Thursday, February 28, 2008

Music Class

I went to music and—grrrrr! I’ve decided to give my professor a challenge. That wench infuriates me. I got up to sing a song that is easy, the one that she implied is easy and that I sing. I did not get past the first two words notes. For five minutes in front of my class, we worked on that and then—she dismissed me to my seat and to go home and work on my song! Right after me, the three very best singers in the class who are truly talented (one guy is from Jamaica with this baritone voice that you feel more than you can hear) got up and chose to sing it! Why on Earth are they singing what is easy? These singers can sing anything and make it gold. She beams when they sing. They got to sing the entire song and everyone laughed—I enjoyed them, too, but there was no challenge for them. We have a recital coming up-- my husband will see them sing it and compare me to them in the car, “You weren’t like Lisa, Erica or Michael, but you were fine. You did better than I could do!”

After class, I went up to the accompanist and showed him a song that I love, written by Rorem, one of the 20th century’s greatest composers who is still alive. I like the song for the poetry but I knew it wasn’t easy. It almost sounds Jewish. The music is haunting and it never leaves your soul. There are syllables that have two notes to them; "Mike" is hitting eight keys at once in some parts. Mike is an accomplished pianist-- the song is complicated for him. The Professor asked if I wanted to sing the song for the final and I said that I do. She and Mike both told me how hard it is and tried to talk me out of it. I reminded her that she said she would not let us sing anything that wasn’t in the book and that, “this song is in the book, is it not? You said that you’d not tell us what we should sing so that puts me in the driver’s seat.” We made eye contact and I stood up straight—she cackled but said that she will help me. If Barry Gibb could sing all his songs in falsetto with the BeeGees for 20 years, I can croak out my song for three minutes! I am grateful to Dave.

The song that will be central to my life for two months is called I Never Knew. It goes like this: I never knew how much loveliness lives in the bare and leafless trees/ Nor that gold and silver lovingly weave themselves into bronze webbing in which buds dream of coming, spring-drunk exuberance/ I never knew these best gifts strewn before us/ I never had time, could never rest, was always driven like a hunted animal/ But now the hunter is my quarry; I’ve caught what hunted me—Time-- and today upon its wings it have renewed my world.

Doesn’t it almost seem haiku-ish? It doesn’t rhyme and my audience won’t be smiling or laughing with me like I am used to when I mimed and did humorous speaking, but I’ll hit the high notes. I compared the music to a drawing that I am doing and Mike said, “But you are an advanced intermediate artist! This song is a great goal, Tea. . ." I liked watching my professor struggle with the words when she sang it-- the focus was off me screwing up and we got through it, then Mike wanted to go back and play with me singing and just go through it. It put us closer to working together. She didn't care if I got through the easy song, she could get testy over one note. With the complicated one, she was determined to get through it-- I happened to be there so she was working with me. Mike wanted to run through it again, "Tea, sing as best as you can and I'll just play and cue you in." Why didn't they just do that with the easy song?

What does it matter if I don't sing this well? I won't sing the other song well, either and I can't get past the first bar. The more advanced singers should be challenging themselves. I sing before class (I think) just fine. I don't think that my teacher knows me well enough to care much for me or put in energy to not like me. My five year old daughter said that she wants to be a pirate singing cowgirl, where she'd capture people on the ocean, tie them up, then get on her horse who'd be on her ship and she would sing to them. I may need to modify my daughter's ideas to get my teacher to tolerate me singing!

I'm swamped with school work and we have a student show next week for the art classes. I have to burn my pottery tonight.


Steve said...

Well, you are either a stubborn fool, or you're going to have fun. Maybe both.

It's hard, if a teacher sees her job as to push you to be the best you can be in that area and that's not your goal. Teacher and student need to clarify their goals and come to some agreement. You aren't there on your way to the NYOpera. It seems you are there to stretch and have fun.

And because you're stubborn, now you have to prove that you were right. And, because you love the ideas in the song, you'll enjoy singing the words over, and over, and over and over, etc.

Good luck, and wear black gloves if you're going to see people who stress over dirty fingernails.

Tea N. Crumpet said...

My children are learning to handle the clay pretty well. They watch my videos and are getting pretty good with it.

GDad said...

Don't worry that it's not good enough
For anyone else to hear.
Just sing, sing a song.

I admire your tenacity. You go!