Thursday, December 11, 2008

New photo

Don't give me any grief about this; I'm posting it because I like it and I want to. :)

It's a picture of me that was taken last month by a photographer at a convention I attended. GOOD photographer, I say.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thoughts on my hobby - a chapter in transition

My chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society is going through transition. After 9 years as Northeast District Champions and representatives of the District at International, many are burned out, and others are frankly tired of the eternal tension that exists in many hobby chapters between those who want to excel (weeding out the members who hold back our quality) and those who either can't or don't want to put in the extra work to achieve the quality.

In the past year or so, "the handlebars have come off the bicycle," in a sense – our previous responsiveness to our director and music team's pull has not been what it once was. So we're going through a process of recreating ourselves. We'll have a new director and before we can hire one we need to decide what kind of chapter we want to be. Some dedicated members have worked on detailed proposals of several different models. And we're near the final stages of that process.

Today in our email group, branching off a different discussion, I posted the note below, which expresses what I feel about all this. Those of you who know me well know how much it's meant to me to sing in this chorus in recent years. Who knows what the future holds, but I wanted to express this.

I share this with you partly because I have a sense that there's something in this for all of us, all of America, even all of humanity, not just my chapter of the barbershop society.


You know, gents, for a variety of reasons I don't know if I'll be on the risers after 1/1/09, for a while at least. But none of it depends on what the chorus's standards will be.

I'm going to stick my neck out for a minute and maybe embarrass myself a little, and because of that, I presume nobody else will take offense at what I say.

I started in 2002 pretty much at rock bottom level. At my first audition, one of the guys who was hearing me literally fell backward when I let loose with my very sincere bellow. :) And there was a time when I handed in a tape to David Patterson and he came back to me with the gentlest look on his face as he asked me some delicate question about it, only to discover it was NOT the tape I'd meant him to listen to - after my take, he'd continued listening to some old junk I'd not recorded over, which was the grossest squawks. Yet he was gentle about it; I was aghast later when I listened to what HE'd listened to.

Over the years I learned to hear overtones (now I can hear about half of what Boot and Steve hear), which makes it infinitely easier to fit into the sound. I'm still not instinctively good at flatting the thirds and adjusting volume based on where I am in the chord - that's all filtering in slowly.My breath and vocal production are much better than they were. And through the incessant training, I've learned something about interpretation.

Ironically, recently I've been thinking that in six years what I've really learned is to understand how good my voice is NOT. :) But I sure have fun.

Here's where I'm going to get dicey: [Recently at an event] I heard some truly bad singing. Even by my standards. I heard some choruses galoomphing along, with the chorus moving from note to note more or less like an amoeba, galoomph galoomph, not like a unit. And yet as I heard it, I found myself thinking "That must be what I have sounded like to others, and what I probably still sound like to some." And perhaps what Nashua sounds like to some, today.

So as I found myself thinking "Don't they know how bad they sound? How can they be enjoying that?", I was at the same time thinking "Without people in our chapter who were willing to suck it up and TEACH ME, I wouldn't be one bit better today than I was six years ago. I improved by better singers sucking it up and being generous with me."

I have to say this was not an easy thing to realize. But for the first time, I felt that if I knew how to teach, I'd be willing to.

I fully understand the guys who want to excel and don't want to be held back. God bless 'em, I say, personally. And at the same time, I hope everyone who has it in 'em will continue teaching. I am so, so grateful to those people, for it's they who have given me my hobby. They helped me, literally, give voice to what I love to do.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Shrimp on a treadmill

Shrimp on a treadmill:

If HE can do it, I can do it!

~ Rhonda