Sundays, an update, and frasier

:: homemade pizza night, every other Sunday

One of our numerous new year’s resolutions was to invite people over more often.  We have been practicing hospitality faithfully since the start of this year.  Every other Sunday seems to be about right for us, manageable.

Technically, Sunday is our Home day – the day to take care of those honey-do tasks, work on home projects, work in the garden, veg a little.  On weeks when we are having guests for supper, we clean the house.  A decent cleaning every two weeks is just about right, in my book.  On the in-between weeks, we do larger house projects (next up: the garage, ew) and then my sister Liana babysits in the evening while we go out (or sit in the car).

We have so enjoyed having our friends over.  With having five pregnancies and four babies over the last nine years, there have only been a few months here and there where we’ve felt ‘with it’ enough to entertain.  Now we’re really getting into the groove.  Our biggest problem is that there are so very many people we want to have over.  Too many friends, a good problem to have.

:: voice lesson update

After a three month hiatus from lessons (not my choice, teacher’s schedule), I had my first lesson this last Sunday.  Right in time for another hiatus due to Spring Break.  (Well, at least I’m not being tempted to drain the family money pot with lessons right and left.)

My teacher’s name is Aram – he’s Bulgarian.  I love him.  One of the many many things I love about him is that he lavishes praise and affirmation.  Even his suggestions and solutions are bookended in positive things.  “Beautiful, just beautiful.  Now this time, I want  you to…”  “You could never make a sound that is anything less than beautiful, it can only have varying degrees of beauty.”

I bask.

And I laugh at myself, because I am so aware of how those compliments and affirmations buoy me up, build me up.  Maybe I laugh because we get the message that we are supposed to be impervious to compliments and impervious to criticism, and I realize that I am flying in the face of that.  But in the words of Jewel, I’m sensitive and I’d like to stay that way.  I’m like a little flower, soaking in the sunshine.

There is a theme in these lessons that wasn’t present in my early twenties.  Warmth of the 30s coming in to your tone.  Now you sound like a woman in her 30s, not a junior in college.  Your true voice.  

Your true voice.  I’ve been mulling over vocation and the concept of becoming our truest and fullest selves, and all the hindrances we work with.  It seems as though my vocal development is just another manifestation of this journey.

:: guilty pleasure

I’ve been watching reruns of Frasier in the evenings.  I must admit how comforting those 90s styles are to me.  Baggy pants, short shirts, short skirts.  Nostalgia.  I’ve been surprised at how much I am enjoying it.  I find myself laughing out loud, all by myself.

I still have not been able to bring myself to watch the last episode of Downton Abbey.  I know something terrible happens.  Sheesh, I know what the terrible thing is that happens!  But for Pete’s sake, it’s TV, can’t I just never watch it and start again next season and spare myself the anguish?

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tracing a vocation

aphrodite

Aphrodite, goddess of love.  Not that it has anything to do with this post.

I’m still not sure how I ended up with voice as my main emphasis for my music education degree.  It was a toss up between piano, voice, and flute.

Flute was first to go.  TMJ problems.

It would have made sense to choose piano.  I mean, if I look back at my childhood and where I had invested my time and energy, where I had worked out my growing-up angst, it was at the piano.  I was drawn to the piano.   If there was a piano, I was playing it.  I remember visits to relatives according to what kind of keyboard they have, what kind of music was in their piano bench.

But as much as I played the piano, I loved singers.  I loved soulful singers.  I loved Toni Braxton unbreak my heart and Whitney Houston And I will always love youuuuu and Mariah Carey and then a hero comes along.  (That dates me, doesn’t it.)

I loved my eighth grade choir teacher.  She couldn’t read a whit of music, but she was black and she could sing and she could make us sing.

Good pianists impressed me.  Good singers touched me.

I realize this only looking back now.  When I was making the momentous decision, somewhere back in 1998, I was coming off of high school years where I had quit piano lessons and spent hours in choir.

Was there a guiding star?  I think not.  Flip a coin, see how it lands.

Somehow I decided on voice, and I never looked back.  It has never let me go.

Years later, I’m trying to make sense of a passion, a calling, that only showed up when I was 17 or 18.  I believe that a person’s vocation is evidenced throughout their lives, if only we have eyes to see it, to connect the dots.

Where is the evidence through my life that singing might be part of my unique vocation, my calling?  This baffled me for a long, long time.  I’ve only figured it out in the last year or so, after much deliberation, and it makes so much sense.

Looking back on my childhood, there are two things that I did constantly and consistently.  One is to play the piano, the other is to read.

Piano and reading.  Music and words.

Put music and words together, add heart and soul, and you’ve got singing.

Music that comes from the soul, through the body.  Words full of meaning that you can mine and wrestle with, linger over, interpret and communicate.

I guess it does all make sense.  The clues were all there.

On top of that, I have an unwieldy and unruly voice that refuses to belt like my beloved Whitney.  That makes a mockery of Christian contemporary singing and Disney princess songs (I can fake it, but it’s definitely fake.)  That wobbles and is unsteady when singing simple ditties for my children’s choir.

My voice is built for classical singing, for opera and art song, for lieder and melodie.  It’s constructed that way.

Add it all together and it explains, I guess, is how I came to be here.

That is why singing has not let me go, even through the baby years where most unimportant things were weeded out through necessity.  That’s why I practice with a baby sitting on my hip, do exercises while washing dishes (“Mom, it’s so loud!”), and ponder texts and translations in the evenings.

Apparently, this is one of the things I am called to do.  The signs are all there.

Signs and wonders.

I do wonder a lot about it, about what it means beyond practicing and now being brave enough to take lessons again.  I hardly want to think about it, really, it seems scary and far off.  I’m scared of being pushed too fast, I’m scared of fear and stage fright (!!!!), I’m scared of having to start all over again, I’m scared of failure.

But I suppose those are another day’s (another year’s?) worries.

For now, I suppose the next step is figuring out how on earth the Shepherd on the Rock can be so heartbroken one moment and greet the spring so blithely the next.  What’s the subtext here?

Have you discovered how your vocation can be traced to your childhood?  Not sure what your passion might be?  Check out wishcraft, it’s cool.

 

 

 

singing

I cut short my happy after-children-are-sleeping practice time this evening.  Tonight, the girls were not lulled to sleep, nor did the baby sleep “like a baby” (whoever came up with that one?).  But I am taking a moment to marvel that usually everyone sleeps right through opera arias and art songs literally reverberating through the house.

That’s yet another thing I love about our new home.  With the open spaces, minimal furnishings, and wood floors, there is no better place to practice.  Great acoustics for singers.  Sometimes I wonder if people walking by can hear me, but I don’t really want to know.

Which is all to say that I have started taking lessons again.  And, oh, thank God, I am still a singer.

 

 

New Music

After holding onto an itunes gift card for two and a half years, today I went wild and bought two albums.  (This seems to be a recent trend in my life – blooming deserts everywhere).

The first was Pirates of Penzance for my girls.  They have a great deal of it learned already from watching the DVD, but I’m aiming for memorization, baby.  Lia and I spent a happy half hour at the piano with the score on Sunday, being pirates or girls or leading sopranos by turn.  I’m going to work on Levi learning a few lines of “I am the Pirate King!”, I’ll be Mabel and Devo can be Frederic, and the little girls can be the sisters.

Me as Edith in a Pirates dress rehearsal, years ago.  

The second was Anna Netrebko’s Souvenirs.  I looove Anna Netrebko.  I’ve sworn off listening to sopranos with pretty little voices, it’s all about big and full and verve now.

I swear, I tear up every time I watch this video.  I can watch it over and over and over.  And over.

Singing Rounds with Children, Part Two

Confession :: Ever since reading The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, I’ve wanted to, you know, be the Trapp Family Singers.

A passel of kids.  Adventure.  Singing.

And the real von Trapps didn’t sing Do, Re, Mi, they sang Bach, Palestrina, des Prez. Real stuff.

And they had a farm.

So we have our passel of kids and a widening sense of adventure.  Now for the singing.  (Apparently the farm will have to wait).

We like to sing.  I was a vocal major, for pete’s sake.  Devo sang in a quartet/quintet through college.  In fact, my husband likes to sing so much that I’ve almost lost my ability to sing harmony.  Being a baritone (neither tenor, nor bass), he likes to sing a little of the alto line and a little of the tenor line.  And besides, someone has to sing the melody.

And our kids like to sing.  In fact, we often drive down the road with three children singing three different songs.  I should say four children, being that Kiri can drown us out with her own singing when she feels inspired.  (Baby singing, so darling.  So loud.)

Over Christmas, my Trapp Family Singer Dream suddenly came to life.  Suddenly we had three children who all loved to sing.  So we began to expand our Christmas repertoire, and for the first time our Advent tradition of singing O Come, O Come, Immanuel didn’t consist of two parents singing with several children looking on.

Last Christmas, two voices.  This Christmas, five.

Our time has come.

Time to get out the rounds again.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about Singing Rounds with Children.  It is one of my most popular posts.  And you can see from the publish date (April 2008) that we’ve been singing for years.

This spring, however, brought a magical leap in interest and ability and now we are on a higher plane in the Quest for Harmony.

For a couple of weeks, we spent hours singing rounds.  Hours.

The little girls would lie in bed and practice Jubilate Deo (often while Levi was singing something else entirely), until they could each sing their own part.

Meal times we would sing “For health and strength and daily bread…”, two to a part.

Every few days we would learn a new round, and then have the fun of trying to piece it together.  Amelie starts, then Lia, then Levi and I together.

Driving, waiting for friends to show up, any time that wasn’t filled with something else, we would sing.  Each person gets to pick which round they want to sing, until we’ve sung all we know.

Bach and Palestrina got a whole lot closer.

It really is magic to hear the voices of small children singing rounds, one to a part.  Not only the knowledge of the skill that takes, but also the beauty of hearing the individual voices inside the harmonies.

Rounds are the best way to learn the skills needed to sing harmony: singing your own part when everyone else is singing something different.  But because you’re singing a “song” (vs. a kind of tuneless “harmony”), it is easier to get the hang of holding your own.

Another favorite literary mention of round singing is in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Happy Golden Years where she and Almanzo go to singing school.  Laura could sing Three Blind Mice the longest because she had grown up singing it with Pa and Carrie and Grace.  {smile}

I wanted to update my list of Round Resources, namely adding the two books we love the most.

The Round Book: Rounds Kids Love to Sing.  We got this from our local library (it’s on my must-own list).  The title is not misleading: kids love to sing the rounds in this book.  I think we had this book checked out for three months out of the last twelve.  Lia will sit and sing through the book (making her own melodies for the ones she doesn’t know).  Amelie and Levi love the little pictures.  And the selection of rounds is just fantastic.  Get this one first.

The King’s Singers Book of Rounds, Canons, and Partsongs.  This book has many of the rounds featured in The Round Book.  It also has more difficult partsongs and songs that lean more heavily on the ‘classical’ side.  I own this one (the library didn’t have it).  This is the book that is going to carry us into the future.  But in the meantime, it also has many of the simpler songs we already know and love.  If you are only going to get one book for the duration, get this one.

And now for a list of the rounds we currently know (that I can remember).

  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • Are You Sleeping?
  • For Health and Strength and Daily Bread
  • Sing, Sing Together
  • I Love the Flowers (this is a favorite)
  • White Coral Bells
  • Sweetly Sings the Donkey
  • Make New Friends
  • Kookaburra (another favorite)
  • Three Blind Mice
  • Jubilate Deo
  • There Was a Little Girl Who Had a Little Curl
  • Father, I Adore You
  • Come Into His Presence Singing Alleluia
  • Gaudeamus Hodie (Natalie Sleeth)
The intense learning period has ended and our new ability has become part of the normal. I tried to teach them a new round the other day, but Kiri was so inspired by the singing that no one could hear the melody over her voice.
We’ll keep singing and adding to our repertoire for the sheer joy and satisfaction of it.  Maria von Trapp paints lovely pictures of a family singing together and we’d like to create our own lovely pictures.
Next up :: Sight singing.  Some time next school year.

Children’s Choir

:: catching up, post #5…see, I told you I was busy ::

December 4 was the Ordination/Commissioning Service for my good friend (and Devo’s pastoral colleague) Janeen.  She’s been Children’s Pastor here since Lia was 6 months old…so she IS our children’s pastor.  Ordaining women in ministry is not something that is common in our denomination, so I am so proud to be a part of a community that acknowledges the work of God through women.

She requested that my Children’s Choir participate in the service.  We hadn’t done anything since the Easter Messiah last year, so I was glad to get it going.  Janeen requested You are the Shepherd.  A beautiful, beautiful song to follow her ‘response’ at the end of the service.

And then we thought that the children could lead the opening hymn, so I chose the perennial success To God Be the Glory.  Because no matter what happens, everybody can sing “praise the Lord!  praise the Lord!”

Three weeks of rehearsals, through Thanksgiving weekend, no less.  I opened up the choir to the ‘younger than 6 year olds’ for the first time and we had a whole row of 3 year olds.  It was a lot of fun.  We spent a lot of time working on the three verses of To God be the Glory and I am proud and gratified to say that they knew the second verse really, really well.  O perfect redemption, the purchase of God… If anybody ever needs ideas on how to teach this hymn, I have many.

We ended up choosing Gracie as our soloist for You are the Shepherd.  Gracie is four, and I’ve been sitting in Sabbath School with her for two years at least.  She was just. darling.  It was unbearably sweet.

It was such a great group of kids, I’ve started thinking about what we should do next year.  So many of my kids are getting almost too old (or so they think), so I’d like to do another something before they outgrow Children’s Choir.

And then we dashed out the door, I dropped the family off at home, and sped off for my choir concert.

edited to add :: I just realized that I don’t know who took the pictures that my husband acquired.  Let me know who you are and thank you!

Singing in a Choir

:: what I’ve been up to in the last month, post #4 ::

After six and a half long years, I returned to the world of choral singing.

My favorite college choral director has spent the last five or more years cultivating his Men’s Chorus.  No mixed chorus a’tall.  Much to my chagrin.  So when he mentioned early this year that he was planning a mixed chorus Christmas concert, my ears perked up and my heart filled with hope.

And Devo immediately promised and committed to making it happen, no matter what. Which I thought was sweet…I hadn’t started thinking of logistics…I was still in the burgeoning hope stage.

And basically he ended up pushing me out the door, arranging babysitters, hosting church meetings at the house, rearranging schedules and skipping some things altogether….just so that I could sing in this choir.  If a choral performance was like a book with a list of acknowledgments, the whole page would be dedicated to him. ❤  (My first use of the heart symbol…which always looks a little to me like an icecream cone…but hey, heart, ice cream cone, it’s all good and all love).

So for Tuesday and some Thursday nights, I was suddenly out on my own, minus children.  In the evenings.  For several hours.  Singing.

I would look around me in the choir at all the people.  Especially those lucky men’s chorus men who do this every week.  And I’d think about how to other people this is just a choir rehearsal.  But to me, oh to me!, it was … glorious.  Or if I was too tired to beam with the glory, it was deeply satisfying.

I rode to and fro with a good college friend, Jenn.  We haven’t talked this much since college.  And maybe not even then.  And another college love, Jen, (don’t get confused now) and I were reunited in the Second Soprano section as though no time had passed.  Although I’d like to think we’re not as obnoxious now as we might have been before.  I mean, we thought it was fun to sing through opera librettos making up our own melodies…but I can totally understand why the dean in the dorm called and asked us to tone it down.

Me, Jenn, and Jen – blurry but so happy togetherrrrrr

The little girls loved listening to the music…especially the fun ones like Deck the Hall.  I was sad that they didn’t get to go to the concert…firstly it was a highbrow audience, secondly it only started at 8pm, and thirdly it was over an hour away.

Actually, I went to the concert all on my own.  Original plan from back in May was for Devo to come with me, like a date where we sit separated for two hours.  But for a variety of reasons it didn’t happen that way.  And I was a little sorry because he had worked so hard to make it happen.  But there will be more choir concerts.  Hopefully before another 6 and a half years pass.

The concert itself went beautifully.  I wasn’t too nervous (biggest worry after such a long hiatus from performing) and we sang well.  The music was fun and challenging and it was a delight to sing with people who SING.

Just in case you want to know, I’m in the second row from the back, second person from the right.

I wish I could upload the music files, they turned out so beautifully.  If we’re friends on facebook, you can see a video on my wall.  But the sound quality isn’t as good.

And now I’m returning to real and normal life where I’m not flitting off on these excursions so completely removed from my usual familial existence.  And I’m relieved to find that I’m not chafing…give her an inch, she’ll take a mile…none of that.  More like it was fun while it lasted.

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I’m sorry I missed your call the other day.  I’m surprised I could even find the message, it was sandwiched in between about thirty five campaign calls.  I don’t know who they think they’re going to convince to vote for them by leaving those annoying messages.  I don’t think it shows good fiscal management to spend that much money to call people up, irritate them, and leave a recorded message.

We did indeed have piano lessons on Thursday.  And Mrs. Linette said the kindest things about Lia and her progress.  You know we had that Fall Recital on Sunday.  Lia dressed up as the Sugar Plum Fairy and played her little piece.  She didn’t play it as well as she usually did, but that didn’t seem to phase her.  It was a grand social event for her, making friends with the kids she was sitting next to, and then having a glorious post-recital romp with Ali and Micah and Amelie.  She informed me that she talked to her new friends during the whole recital.  At least, until she went to sit with Micah, who was ‘lonely’.

She got two new pieces at her lesson, Jingle Bells and The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.  I’m excited for both.  We’ve been working on her playing less tentatively and deeper in the keys, and I think she’ll get right into the spirit of things with Jingle Bells.  And then the Sugar Plum Fairy is pretty ‘difficult’ – for sure the most difficult piece she’s played yet.  She’s sight-reading so well now that the pieces she is assigned are not challenging…at least to read and get the basic idea.

Lia’s stretched up the last week or so.  Today she went around and showed me how tall she was – she could reach this or that.  Her head touches the roof of the car when she stands (not when she sits, she clarified).

And when she opened her mouth and peered inside this week, she discovered that she is getting molars, too!  Just like Levi!

So now Amelie’s mealtime prayers go thus ::

Dear Jesus, Thank You for the wonderful day!  Thank you for Lia’s teeth and Lia’s molars and Levi’s molars.  Amen.

And Amelie, of course, is sure that she is getting some new teeth, too.  Or perhaps has some wiggly teeth.

The girls have decided to study The Nutcracker Suite (hence the Sugar Plum Fairy stuff).  Interlibrary loans are the bomb.  (Did I just say “the bomb”?  I thought I swore in highschool that I would never say those two words in colloquial usage.  Well, as my Grandma always says, one shouldn’t swear.)  But our library system apparently doesn’t have a recording of the original score.  The closest I’ve found uses synthesizers behind the orchestra.  Very 90s.  Very disturbring.  I’m a purist.

But we also got an album from Beethoven’s Wig. I had seen the group mentioned on some blog some where some time in the recent past and snatched it up when I saw it in the online catalog.  It’s so fun – “sing a long symphonies” and other classics, all with singing words.  We have album 3 and the opening number is Carmen’s Toreador, entitled Bull in a China Shop. Hahahaha.

I finally, finally ordered and received the Math U See.  But Devo keeps thinking we’re talking about Matthew C.  (Who is that? he wonders.) Amelie loves to play with the manipulatives.  But maybe that is because all of their toys have been confiscated.

Yes, our first toy confiscation has occurred.

Friday we were working upstairs in the loft and the girls were playing with the kitchen toys, the dolls, and the doll clothes.  And when it was time to come downstairs, I asked them to clean up.  And then I asked them again.  And then, that was it. That was the end of this era of toy-picking-up-patterns.

Toy clean up has recently gone like this :

Me : Time to clean up the toys.

Me, five minutes later : Girls, it’s time to clean up the toys.

Me : Amelie, you clean up the books.  Lia, you clean up the dolls.

Lia, whining : Amelie isn’t helping.

Me : Amelie, please help.

Amelie : non-verbal declaration that she is NOT going to pick up the toys now.

Me : cajole, cajole

Lia : whine, whine (although, she does pick up the toys)

Amelie : lays on floor, possibly weeping and wailing

So I told them that they needed to clean up their toys without me saying any more about it.  And if they didn’t pick them up, Pappie and I would box up the toys and put them where they were not allowed to play with them.  And then I set a timer … they needed to start picking up before the timer went off.

And they both soberly and deliberately came downstairs, sat on the couch, and read books.  I would love to know if they had a conversation about this, or if it was an unspoken agreement on a selected course of action.

The timer went off, Devo and I picked up all the toys in the house, stowed them in the front room and closed the door.

And they haven’t said a word about it since.

Well, I take that back.  Amelie did mention the next morning that she missed having a snuggie.  And Lia told our friend Marni who came to babysit them Saturday night that their toys had been confiscated because they didn’t pick them up.

But that’s it.

Weird.

Ironically, the house is still the same amount of messy and cluttered.  So I guess I can’t blame it on the toys.  We didn’t give a timeline…I think we’ll wait until they ask for them and then sit down and talk about the privilege of playing with toys.  And the responsibilities that come with the privilege. And the expectations that exist in this home.

And in the meantime, I’m going to work on figuring out what on earth is making the mess if it isn’t the toys, and eliminating it.

Love!

Leilani

 

Song

So I spent some time this evening looking at Spanish song on youtube. I’ve been spending my evenings this week working on French song, but tonight I was ready for something meatier – something to sink my teeth into.  Arrrrrrr.  (Or maybe I should say !Ay!).

Here are my favorites for the week.  First, Faure’s Au bord de l’eau, with Veronique Gens.  After listening to her, I’ve regretted all the energy I wasted in college admiring (and trying to sing like) little lyrical soubrette voices.  Vim! Vigor!  Life!

And here is Teresa Berganza.  Love her dress.  I could sing good Spanish song if I had a dress like that.  Wowee!  Jota by de Falla.

Magic Flute

I shouldn’t be here.  My mouse arm is giving me fits – not helped by over-exuberant 3 hour shoveling session on Sunday.  This right arm is a really useful thing – need it for just about everything.

But I’m here.  I still hear squeaking from Amelie’s room, so I have to delay my evening plans until she goes to sleep.  Downside of napping.

Had a fit of inspiration this week to try and utilize all of the decor/frames that are just sitting around.  Unfortunately a bunch of the frames need some wood glue, and that is a task that takes patience and time.  Patience and time and a sleeping baby.  But I did manage to put up two pictures and create a (rather too crowded) display on the one flat surface that children can’t reach.

Saturday night I took Lia to see the university’s production of the Magic Flute.  We’ve been reading the story and listening to the music since before going to Guam, so I was very excited to find out that this year’s opera was none other than – The Magic Flute.  And, to add to the pleasure, The First Lady was one of my former students…I was her first voice teacher in 7th grade and take a lot of the credit for opening up her world to include classical singing.

But even more than that, way back when – when I was in college here – I was Pamina in The Magic Flute.  My one starring role in an opera.  So it was really neat to take my little girl.

And I’m very proud of myself, I didn’t feel jealous or condescending or critical at all.  I just had a great night and enjoyed everything. I did think, though, that if I had known in college that that was the last/only time I would get to do some of these things, I might have approached it differently.  But, thinking back to how swamped I was with my quarterly load of 22+ credits and working…I probably wouldn’t have – survival was of upmost importance back then.

Still is, come to think of it.  🙂  HAha.

Lia managed to stay awake through the whole thing – all three hours, even with it starting at her bedtime.  She already knew the story and could recognize which aria goes with which character, so there wasn’t half as many questions as I anticipated.  On our way to the car afterwards she said, “It made me sleepy.”

She got to meet Pamina (a friend), First Lady (aforementioned), and (how exciting), Papageno, her favorite character.  Made my evening, too, as Papageno was played by a teacher who had started teaching there right before I graduated.  And he remembered my name.  That really ‘tickled me pink’.  I don’t know why, but it did.

It was the first concert I’ve gone to since Lia was born.  Five years and no live music.  When the overture started, I was just overcome with how different music is when it doesn’t come out of speakers but comes out of people.  And to think that there was a point in life when I took that for granted.

A Soprano of a Mother

Did I ever mention that I’m a soprano.  I mean, I was a soprano.  I mean, I think I’m still a soprano.  I hope I’m still a soprano.  I want to be a soprano.  Still.

Four years of college and fairly regular practice, as well as one year of a master’s in vocal performance at a fairly prestigious music school.  Operas, oratorios, the works.

And then I became a mother and used it as a wonderful excuse to excuse myself from another year of school and another $15K of student loans. It was absolutely the right choice.  On all accounts.

I sang for church a time or two post-baby.  Not the easiest thing maritally when your spouse is paid to show up and work hard on Sabbath morning.  Because three minutes of singing takes several hours of focus and focus doesn’t come easily in the midst of spit up and oopsie diapers.

So when asked when I am going to sing for church again, I say, “Either when our children are older or my husband finds a new job.”  I tell myself that it’s just not the season in my life for singing, and that Sabbath is a time to be together as a family.  One family member otherwise occupied is enough.

But as the years (did I say years? am I old enough to say years?) slip by, I am beginning to second-guess myself.  That maybe all the hard work and blood and sweat I put into overcoming my terrible case of stage fright might just fizzle and disappear.  And so I’ll be a 40 year old soprano who can’t be taken out in public.

Which would really be too bad.

I’ve been practicing.  A little.  About once every three months.  On average.  I started working on Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock when I was pregnant with Lia.  Still working on it.  I think that in my heart of hearts I don’t really want to finish it because it would be kind of like being all dressed up with no where to go.

A few months ago I was starting to sink into a perpetual state of glumness regarding the whole thing when, out of the blue, people started asking me when I was going to sing again.  And not just Jim L., who is a professional percussionist who played with an opera company for years (and soothes my soul with his compliments).  But really random people.  Really.  Random.  People.

So I perked up and made a list – a recital program of sorts – of my favorite art songs (read: new repertoire!).  With a few of Lia’s favorite songs.  And made a folder.  And more recently, shelled out the dollars for accompaniment CDs and internet downloads.  And put a copy of all the texts and translations into my notebook that contains all the vital information about my life.  And put all the songs and accompaniments onto Devo’s old iphone, in lieu of my dearly departed ipod.

I got it all ready to go…and promptly got sick.  And lost my voice.  Finally got fed up (I still sound scratchy) and started practicing anyhow.  While I do dishes.  When Devo takes the kids and I’m supposed to be napping.  Or, like tonight, with Levi in our borrowed ergo-carrier after putting the girls in bed.  And as Levi nodded off to sleep, he would jerk his head up and look at me with that what-on-earth-are-you-doing-Mommy-it’s-kind-of-freaking-me-out look whenever I sang anything over an F.

I’m hoping to overcome all the fear and bad habits I’ve accumulated by thinking about singing instead of actually…singing.

After Levi went soundly asleep, I crept into the girls room to see if Lia had gone to sleep.  (She likes to “sleep” with her “eyes open”.)  My Lia who loves Shepherd on the Rock (she should, she’s been hearing it since she was in utero), and Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate.  And who’s newest interest is opera…specifically The Magic Flute (it has a princess – and the Queen of the Night).  She was still awake.  She hummed for me her favorite song from the evening’s concert.  And my little Mommy heart went wooshy gooshy.  And then she asked why there are no songs in English.

I guess I should probably add some songs in English.

I love singing for my children.  They’re so non-judgmental.  Unlike their mother.  But I’m working that.

On my way to blog about this topic, I passed by facebook and saw that my friend Scott had posted a link to a video Laundry and Tosca about a woman (a soprano!) who worked a 9 to 5 for years, while practicing and dreaming her dreams.  How…fitting.

Edited to add:  I just finished watching Laundry and Tosca and it was amazing.  I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  If you have half an hour…

Feng Shui, Labor, and Faure’s Requiem

Maybe the feng shui in my house is holding up the labor energy.  I noticed yesterday that the top of the fridge has quite a collection: makings of granola (just needs the wet ingredients and an hour and a half in the oven), a candelabra with only half the candles, various and sundry plastic containers tossed up recklessly, two boxes of icecream cones, dark chocolate turtles, an abandoned half-eaten See’s candy box, and a pink dancing hippo.  Pink dancing hippo needs to be re-gifted…it’s abominably cute, but hearing “Hot Stuff” over and over again gets really old really fast.  Anybody want a pink hippo?

And there is a box of stuff sitting in the laundry room waiting to be mailed to Guam.  Contents include my Mom’s birthday gift (her birthday was in October).

And while we’re at it, maybe it’s the drawer of hairties and make-up in the bathroom that is the problem.  Hahahaha.

I am slowly but surely exorcising Faure’s Requiem from my internal playlist.  During my <cough> labor (or, as Karen T. put it so sweetly, the “warm-ups”), I had certain phrases going through my head.  Namely, “O Domine, Jesu Christe, O Domine, libera anima…”  And a hint from “Libera me, Domine”.  Which, when I thought about it turned out to be really funny and fitting…  the translation for these phrases are, respectively, “O God, Jesus Christ, O God, liberate the soul…” and “Liberate me, God.”  Hahaha.

Today I’ve moved on to the last movement of the Requiem, “In paradisum” (in paradise).  Which I think it a little premature on the part of my psyche.