Things I learn

Busman’s holiday: I attended a workshop with Bobby McFerrin and Voicestra recently.  I’m pretty good at improvising and was excited about working with my teacher Rhiannon and finally meeting Bobby and the others.

Well, I can still sing pretty good, but I have a lot to learn.  And I learned a lot about how people work together to create from scratch and how beginners must feel when they come to one of my voice classes.  I can’t do all the cool rhythms right off the bat; I have trouble keeping my part going when others are doing something  completely different–just as the beginning choir member has trouble singing a round.  Yes, just like that.  I was so blown away by some of the counter rhythms of the other groups (circle singing is an act of making improvised parts and putting them together on the spot, sometimes someone will solo over them, but it has a lot to do with how things fit to make an interesting whole) that I had to stop and listen.  That’s good, if others are carrying on.   We would lose our beat, we would get bored just “holding an alto part.”  Just like life.  Doing the laundry, holding an alto part.

I met some really talented folks there, not all singers at all–a tap dance teacher, a film composer, drummers and activists.  And we all listened and learned and had a great time, playing.  Like summer camp for adults, with vegetarian food.

Now, school starts up, I get to try out the circle singing with my students (if they don’t know they’re improvising they loosen up more quickly) and go be a cantor for the High Holidays.  Oh yes, and sing the opera about the bunny hoarder again.

Pretty good life, pretty great, actually.

I’ve been hearing from friends and former students this past while, and it is such a delight to hear that folks are continuing to sing and create.  One has had a TV pilot accepted by CBS in Hollywood, another is singing in Germany, others are continuing their pursuits in Tokyo, Cleveland, and the Bay Area.

What a delight to be part of these lives and to remember how my teachers influenced me–all the voice teachers, choir conductors, English teachers and my yoga instructor, who said “You think you know your limitations but I can see your potential.”

I learn so much from my students, sometimes I think I should pay them!

Enjoying the quiet time by exercising while memorizing the Bunnies opera.  Such beautiful music and fun–I so rarely get to be funny onstage.

This character is a hoot and I am having a blast learning about her as I try out her lines on my walks,  It also keeps strangers from approaching me, because I am reacting to the music in my head.

So, our set designer, Lisa French, has asked for help with sewing bunnies.  We don’t need 334 of them but could use some help.  Anyone out there handy with a needle?  I’ll send you a patter and you can have a close-up on some rehearsals and our eternal thanks.

334 Bunnies, the opera

Thursday January 26, 8pm Longy School, Harvard Square

Saturday February 4, 4:00 St. John’s in Jamaica Plain

Today I led  260 Senior Citizens singing  “My Girlin harmony at the Elder Expo in Boston.  Can’t get better than that, or can it?

Upcoming:  Classes start soon at Longy, NEC and the United South End Settlements (where the hip Seniors find me on Wednesday afternoons).

High Holidays on Cape Cod–I am the cantorial soloist and cannot resist this chavurah (not a congregation, but a great group) that does NOT CHARGE ANYTHING for High Holiday seats (or even to belong).  How 60’s is that? http://ahycc.org/

Just finished a wonderful conference for singing teachers–New England NATS–where I learned even more about singing cabaret style and using my “non-legit”  voice.  Even (especially) singing teachers want to be able to be non-legit…

Upcoming:  A new piece by John McDonald on Elizabeth Bennet’s shakuhachi recital at Tufts onOctober 16 (3 PM at Tufts)…come to this free concert and find out what a shakuhachi sounds like.

334 Bunnies in January, February and May (Longy School, JP Concerts and Shirley Meeting House, in that order).  More to come!