Friday, July 17, 2009

Stamps-Baxter - Day 5

(Posting this the next day. Way too tired to write last night, and when I got home, Gerald had a movie ready for us. I got me a good husband!)

It's been a great week at Stamps-Baxter. I can see good friendships building between new and returning students. People are taking risks and landing on their feet. The concerts are a success, and students seem to be in all the right places at all the right times. And, of course, everyone is complaining that it's all going by too fast.

This afternoon, I was sitting in our 'office' trying to get ready for the arrival of our second week students. Rebekah pulled out her guitar and started serenading us all with bluegrass songs. Very distracting, but the best kind of distracting. These are the little things I'll miss when I go home.

At 3:30, I took on my challenge for the day - I taught Allison Durham Speer's Performance Training class. Yes, of course I was nervous! Allison sets the bar very high. I really wanted to be encouraging, but I also wanted to be honest and provide some practical, constructive criticism.

I opened the class with an open forum discussion on nervousness (seemed like a good way to deal with my own nerves.) With all that talent and experience in the room, I knew the students would have some tremendous advice to offer each other. I think it was very successful and helpful. There were some good questions raised, and lots and lots of good advice was put on the table.

Oh, and funny thing, once it all started, my nerves disappeared. I felt very calm and confident. Yay!

Then, we got people singing. I knew I wanted to do some lyrical analysis with at least one student, and my first soloist, Susan, brought up the perfect song with which to try it. She sang it nicely, but the song had a deeper message that we, the audience, just weren't getting. We worked through the first verse of the song, line by line, investigating what each line meant to her. The song was intensely personal to her, and as she looked at each line individually, she was able to add her story to the meaning of the lyric.

I then got her to sing the first verse and chorus again. Wow! What a difference! All the technical issues of pitch and posture fell into place, which was great, but the message was entirely different! Every word, every intention became so clear, and you couldn't help but be swept up in the meaning of the song. I was so proud of her! When I spoke to her after class, she told me she now wants to go through all her songs and apply that same kind of detailed work to them. Yay!

Throughout the class, I got to work with several soloists and one family group. We had some wonderful successes. There is so much talent in this school, and with just a little coaching, the singers were really able to open up and share their hearts with the audience. It was beautiful and inspiring.

I spent the rest of the day getting ready for our second week students, but I managed to get in to see a little of tonight's concert - Priority Quartet (formerly Mike LeFevre Quartet.) I had to also leave before the end (it's a 60-minute commute for me), but the show was fantastic. They have a great sound, and their arrangements are terrific. They did a quartet version of "Days of Elijah" which took the roof off the place!

Looking forward to a bit of down time this weekend. Including last week's studio days, I haven't had a day off in 12 days. Going to rest, enjoy family time, and get ready for Gerald's Sunday night Bluebird gig!


Anonymous said...

Sounds yesterday was a great day and you did well!
Good luck to Gerald, and pullease, have some Bluebird sweet potato fries for me!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Allison, for sharing Susan's story. What great advice. I'll be working on my own songs like that too. It really works to make the meaning of the song come alive, as well as make it more personal for the person singing it. You're doing a great thing there, don't stop!