Thursday, July 21, 2005

Nashville - Day 4

I'm so tired I think I may actually be asleep right now! But I still can't stop singing and clapping and enjoying myself.

The schedule is just so intense, and then I stayed up til midnight with my songwriting assignment. Midnight is usually early for me, but not when I need to get up at 6:30. However, the late night was worth it. I was finally able to find a quiet moment for writing, and some good stuff came. My teacher is very impressed! He said he usually puts beginners on to a second assignment at this point, but he likes my idea so much that he wants me to continue with this and finish the whole song by the end of school. It's very encouraging! You should google him - Daryl Williams - and check out some of his songs. Really good.

Tonight's concert was a real Southern gospel quartet called The Premiers. They have great individual voices, but their blend was so smooth and rich. The piano player is my theory teacher, Jack Clark. Every day in theory class, Jack gives us a history lesson. We hear a vintage recording of someone important in Southern gospel history. And usually, Jack has an anecdote that starts, "When I knew these guys...". That will give an idea of the span of his career.

Oh, and one more thing to add to yesterday's definition of 'convention' music. It's usually just four voices and piano. Adding other instruments was not traditionally done.

Just a note on the theory classes too. There are 10 theory levels taught here - everything from absolute beginner to advanced. At registration, we were given a written test so they'd know where to place us. You are placed by ability and age, so the kids are in a separate class. We all learn basic music theory, sight-singing, ear-training, and shape-notes. I think we're the only class that does history.

We have a guest conductor right now for some of our group singing - Mike Speck. He's a composer and arranger, and he travels all over the country leading and teaching music at churches and schools. He also visits the People's Church in Toronto. He's just awesome! So full of the Spirit of God, and encouraging us to seek that same Spirit through music. Tonight, he encouraged us to look for God in all kinds of music, not just the ones we grew up with or the ones we like. I couldn't agree more!

I also attended a song-writing workshop today with Dave Clark. It was so inspiring! He taught a lot of technical things, which I really need to learn. But above all technique, he told us to write from our passion, and to always strive for great songs, not just good songs.

I also want to share a lovely moment I had today. A man came up and, remembering my performance from Day 1, asked if I always sing Peace in the Valley acapella {without instrumental accompaniment}. I said that I usually do it with piano or guitar. He asked if I would mind singing it while he played. So we grabbed a quiet piano, and we played through it. He was a great player. When we were done, he told me he had never played the song before! But he really loves it and loves the way I sing it. We played through it once more. It just felt wonderful. Then he thanked ME for singing for him. I was the one who felt thankful and honoured.

This morning I was putting on my make-up and I started to hum He Touched Me. My room-mate, Michaela, started to hum harmonies. There are so many magical musical moments like that around here. What a blessing this place is to me!

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