Cute is as cute does
I hesitate to call my elder singers “cute.” But that keeps coming to mind. My mom used that word plenty and I’ve used it from everything to describe shoes, food, people and especially animals. Can’t help it. But what is NOT cute about:
- folks who have already proven themselves as capable, competent, distinguished and all the other adjectives that describe adult behavior AND
- are willing to be silly and playful in order to find creative expression.
It’s not that we try to act silly in class or onstage. It’s just that we are willing to let go of those carefully crafted personas we developed as we grew into adulthood. We let go of having to be in charge and set an example to the kids, the bosses, the clients.
I teach all ages and learn from them all. That’s the fun of teaching, continuing to learn. What I notice is how LITTLE my older students complain about what they cannot do or what ails them. They go on, move forward and keep growing. It inspires me to be a better conductor and pianist. So, come to one of the class concerts I’m conducting in the next few weeks. JP Jubilee is the new name for Singing for Seniors at The Boston Public Library. Our concert will be short, free and full of fun. Thursday December 5 at 7:30 pm in Jamaica Plain, see full info below.
…And The Platinum Singers are performing at the Harriet Tubman House on Wednesday, December 18 at 2:30 in the afternoon. An in-house concert of an hour with these sweeties. We just had a grand pre-Thanksgiving lunch with a terrific group called “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren”. They sang along with us and told us their stories (if we asked). Directions to the Tubman House: www.uses.org Flyer to follow shortly…
So, is there a better word than cute? Let me know and I’ll try to incorporate it…
Ah, New England in the Fall…
The Platinum Singers sang at the International Day of Peace gathering on Boston Common, September 21, 2013. I conduct/direct this fabulous group, and we had some guest singers from the Singing for Seniors at our neighborhood branch library. There were liturgical dancers, the Raging Grannies and speakers at this beautiful event. Thanks to Ghanda DiFiglia who invited us to sing here.
I learned a lot, and especially about leaning on a portable keyboard–sometimes a drum set starts up at the oddest times! And I am also learning about placing singers in front of microphones. Okay! Some of us are pretty shy about those mics.
Last night I sang at a retirement party for a faculty member at Tufts–John McDonald asked if I’d sing “Death and the Maiden”, a famous Schubert song, before a string quartet played the movement of the same name. What a great, intense and dramatic piece, all rolled into 1 1/2 minutes! I should make a career of these memorable cameos. Very satisfying. Singing about death is nothing new to this contralto. We get the sad songs all the time. Next month, I’ll be singing Bach’s take on welcoming death, Schlummert Ein (from Cantata #82, Ich Habe Genug) at a benefit for MS research. http://singtocurems.org/support/poster11-2013Q.pdf
I have a lot to be thankful for these days.
photo credit (c) Charlotte Fiorito Photography 2012, All Rights Reserved
In no particular order:
I recently sang and taught at an amazing event in San Jose, CA. The Tech Awards give innovative folks who are doing great works to benefit humanity a chance to be seen and heard and to get monetary awards. I got to give a workshop for these engineers and scientists, to aid them in presenting their projects in public.
From a Distance, video of The Tech Awards ceremony with my new friend Dolores
Bonus: Did you hear the embedded melody in the piano? Our arrangement.
That weekend I also had a visit with my wonderful 89-year old voice teacher in Berkeley, Lilian Loran. She gave me the confidence to pursue solo singing and to “sing classical music the way you sing your Carole King songs.” Well, I now give the same advice to my students. I met my colleague from long ago, Susie Morris, at Lilian’s, and we sang “Sound the Trumpets” of Purcell for her. I believe we last sang that duet in 1979, and it was like we had never parted!
Eleanor Cohen and I visited that weekend. Although she was never my piano nor voice teacher, she was a mentor to me: she told my dad I had one of the few true contralto voices and he should stop bugging me to stop doing music and try for medical school. She’s “only” 86 and still stands on her head every day. Thanks, Ellie!
We’ll be recording John McDonald’s The Budbill Seasons in December, Elizabeth Bennett and I. Elizabeth is a Shakuhashi player, and the poet, David Budbill was a student of hers. In Winter: Tonight: Sunset, the speaker expresses appreciation:
“…I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening…”
Once home in Boston, I saw Ann Moss, a delightful colleague who took my graduate level classes once upon a time at Longy. She is launching her own solo CD project and we were there to encourage her. You can check out her project of new works (and Joni Mitchell songs–I’m glad she learned that lesson well to combine art songs of all genres) at http://annmosssoprano.tumblr.com/currents
Dana Maiben is writing a piece for our Mockingbird Trio, The Green House, to be premiered on February 3 at Brandeis University, and the early drafts look wonderful. Story by Martha Collins.
We have been awarded another grant to teach Singing to senior citizens–in my home branch of the Boston Public Library. It will begin on Fridays in March.
Hooray for MetLife and Creative Aging! Platinum Singers continue as well…
And finally, I’ll be performing a set at the Lily Pad in Cambridge, MA on Sunday February 24. Special guests to be announced. Improvisation and original songs are sure to be part of this mix.