Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer of Art

I have been working on Part 2 of my social justice series, but today I'm going to take a break from it and talk about my summer of art.

Before I do that, I want to backtrack and talk a little bit about my grandmother.  See, her mother died when she was only a week old, so my grandmother didn't really know her mom.  Into her 80's, she could be heard saying "My mother never taught me...".

Now... I love my grandmother, and I am sorry that she lost her mom.  But I figure, that's something that dominated the first 20, perhaps 30 years of her life.  I'd accept that excuse from a youngster.

Eventually?  Somewhere in the 20s or 30s, I would hope, I figure that I am responsible for my own life.  Whatever happened in my childhood that held me back then... well, now I'm a grownup, and responsible for my own learning.  If I want to learn something, I'm going to set out to do it.  Even old-school, I could always go to the library and find books with ideas, read the newspaper for classes and seminars, check the phone book for schools.  New-school, it can start with Google.

In the past, I have written about the hangups and holdups that I had with my music and art.  As an undergrad, while I did participate in the bands, I focused my non-class activities on engineering homework and other things, rather than music practice.

Well, now I have an established career, the B.S.E.E., and degrees on top of that.  While I definitely need to keep my full-time job close to the top of the priority list... this summer I have made time for ART.

It started in May.  Well, it started a year ago, when I signed up to take Adult Jazz at The Dance Company.  At my age, my focus is on staying active and continuous learning.  Still, I took the opportunity to perform at the Recital (#TDCHeroes2014) last May.  Thirty-mumble years old, and I danced my first recital.  I'm proud that I did it, I had fun, and I'm going to do it again.

For summer classes, I added Adult Ballet to the Adult Jazz routine.  That's been even more of a challenge.  I love challenges.

Also in May, I signed up for the Songwriting class on Coursera, offered by Pat Pattison of Berklee College of Music.  I did not, alas, complete the course, but it has gotten me thinking.  I plan to finish watching the videos, and work from some of the books as we settle into our routines.

Then, I joined my husband in the Community Band, playing my clarinet again.

Well, to be honest, I did play a small intro to one of the Huntsville Feminist Chorus songs at the Winter Solstice concert last December.  It seemed easy enough when I volunteered.  It wasn't until the week of the performance that I realized that I had signed myself up for a solo (we have traditionally sung a capella or with percussion, not melodic instruments).  But it went fine.

It was nice to be able to play melody, with a band.  They do a Phantom of the Opera medley that... while I might sing it in the shower or the car, I don't have the proper training to truly pull it off, singing... but I can PLAY the melody just fine.

I didn't stop singing, either.  I joined my church choir, for the first time in years and years.

Well, that led to the end-of-summer first.  My first prepared vocal solo for an audience, which I sang this morning.  There are two more songs in the book that I would like to do when the occasion is right.

Also this weekend, the Huntsville Feminist Chorus kicked off our 22nd season with our annual retreat.  It was an incredible weekend of song, fellowship, more song, and getting to know each other better.  I brought my clarinet along, and would like to be able to play more songs next year.

Which is how I've found myself inventorying my sheet music today.  I've already marked over 100 songs as "to practice"... I think that will keep me busy for a while.

School is starting soon.  Not for me, this year, but for my kid.  That will help us all get into a new routine.    My intent is to incorporate the things I want to practice (voice, keyboard, clarinet, writing, and exercise) into that routine.  Having a practice plan will help.  This fall, I'll be focusing most on the holiday music for December.  Come January, I'll emphasize everything else.

Would I ever go Pro on any of it?  Not at this time.  I have too far to go (too much practicing to do) to consider it now.

  • In dance, my thought is that choreography is more viable than performance... IF I study it, work on it.  Right now, I need to lay my own dance foundation, learn the vocabulary and the steps.  
  • In music?  I have a foundation, that's becoming more solid as we go along.  I'm starting to build on that foundation.