Friday, July 21, 2006

Stamps-Baxter - Day 4

Thursday! Where did this week go? I can't believe it's almost the weekend! I still have so much I want to do!!!

The days are so long and full that I need to look at my schedule as I write so I can keep track of what actually happened today. Each day feels about 3 days long! But trust me, I have no complaints about it. *bliss*

I have finally made a move with my theory class. I really thought I'd work at it and stick it out, but today it just got to be too much for me. I spoke to Shawn about it and he was awesome and offered to review some of the concepts. The problem is that we're 'reviewing' stuff that I've never actually learned. The sight-reading and ear-training is all fine. I'm strong in that stuff. And some of the part-writing exercises are fine. And Shawn is fantastic and the whole class is full of great people. But when they slip into figured bass and the Nashville number system and the circle of fifths, I'm just lost.

Here's my metaphor: Steve was Serbian, and when I first started to spend time with his family, they would speak English, but occasionally slip in a Serbian word or expression. I would gradually pick up phrases, and eventually (little known fact!) I was able to have a short conversation in Serbian. But, when family from the old country would come, it would be all Serbian, and it was too fast and too intense for me to catch up.

This is what theory class was becoming for me. I was the only non-keyboard player, and all these people spoke a language that I've just never learned. I spoke to Tracey, who organizes all the classes, and when I told her this fact, she gave me the understanding look I needed to see. Tomorrow I'll start in her class. Wish me luck!

Group singing was awesome again today. We have three conductors, and having the mix of conducting styles keeps things really interesting. When Glenn conducts, he does these great exercises for blend. He starts us ooohing on a major chord. (For the non-music people, this is just a 'happy' sounding chord.) He then starts to move us around. For example, the tenors will go up a half-step, and then the altos will go down a half-step, and the sopranos will go up a step, and so on and so on. Each time he moves a section up or down a note, it makes a brand new chord. The idea is to train your ear for chords, to listen to the other parts, and to create blend in the group. It's a great exercise, but the side-effect is that it sounds gorgeous! You could record it and sell it in the New Age section.

Today we were served meat that was NOT deep-fried. I received several complaints and was told it was my fault for complaining about all the deep-fried food. Funny southerners. By the way, I can't even tell you the number of Canadian jokes I'm getting this year. None of them are funny, but I'm still getting them every day!

For today's Vocal Technique, Allison brought in an ear-nose-and-throat specialist to talk about vocal health. Very useful, but to be honest, most of it I've already studied. But I forgot to write about yesterday's awesome topic: Building your breathing muscles. Lots of great stuff was discussed, but here's my favourite. To build up your breath support, lie on the floor and put a 5-pound bag of flour on your stomach. Now sing. Apparently, the extra resistance makes you work harder and builds up all the singing muscles, the same way weights work for your other muscles in the gym. For those who go to the gym ...

This afternoon I continued attending Career Development with Nick Bruno. Today we talked about how to book gigs, the non/benefits of having an artist demo, using a booking agent, how to ask for a fee, and growing in your career. Very practical and useful.

My 'free time' today became a rehearsal for "I've Just Seen Jesus". I'm still learning a few of the parts, but it's starting to take shape. I think we'll present it in Allison's class after the weekend.

Tonight in group singing, we sang a new song by Charles Towler called "His Blood Has Made Us One". It says that even though we all come different churches, homes, and backgrounds, we are all united in Jesus Christ. What a powerful message! And set in a gorgeous tune. The church likes to fracture itself so much, when the Bible actually calls us to unite. This is definitely a song that needs to be sung!

Well, I've been waiting for tonight's concert all week: Gordon Mote! I've been such a fan since the Gaither concert in London, ON, this spring. I was so excited when I saw his name on the schedule, and I even talked about it in my improvised intro on Sunday. And I was not disappointed. He played and sang for an hour. He's incredibly funny, so he does some great patter, and even did a little demonstration on how the different churches would interpret that classic hymntune, "Mary Had A Little Lamb". Sooo funny! But his music is just the best. He makes incredible song choices, and does great interpretations of classic songs. He sings right in the pocket, and every note is pure soul. Such a great night! He even invited Ben up to sing "Til the Storm Passes By", and Ben just tore it up! I bought Gordon's solo piano cds to add to my collection, and then had a little chat and told him I saw him in Canada. Well, they're coming to Toronto in September, and he's asked me to work his product table! I gave my card to his manager, so let's hope it all works out.

I'm trying to head back to my room early so I can work on my song for Daryl's lesson tomorrow. I don't mind sacrificing a little sleep tonight. Tomorrow, my room-mate, Debbie, arrives, and then it's the weekend and I can sleep and spend some serious time soaking in the tub. Oh, Happy Day!


Anonymous said...

Hey Allison,

I have your blog bookmarked and love reading it every day. It's cool to read such detail about someone else's experience.

You, my darling, are marked for success.

xo Lisa

Allison Lynn said...

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for reading, and thank you so much for you support!

Allison xo