Thursday, April 1, 2010

Music Memories

I think I sang my first vocal solo at about age 6. I remember standing in front of the Byers United Methodist Church congregation and singing "Jesus Loves Me."

I've sung hundreds of solos since. Beginning second semester at school, I've been helping vocal and instrumental soloists prepare for middle school contest. Yesterday was the day! This accompanist played 22 solos, 1 vocal ensemble and 2 choir pieces. Whew! What a sigh of relief when the day came to a close! I love music festivals. I love music. I love helping students find a way to learn about themselves and reach others through their music.

You wouldn't think that it would be so exhausting to play the piano all day. But switching key signatures and the tension and desire not to mess anyone up is just a little stressful.

And, true confessions: I would much rather sing than play the piano. However, accompanists are a rather rare breed these days. Most kids (including my own) don't take piano lessons long enough to become proficient enough to be an accompanist.

(The piece was called Drifting Moon)

I wonder what Mrs. Lighter would think. Poor Mrs. Lighter suffered through about nine years of lessons with me. My sisters were both much more talented pianists. (I can't say the same for my brother: Sorry Kent!) If given a choice, I would spend more time practicing my voice lesson. I think Mrs. Lighter would be amazed that my playing has actually improved as I've gotten older.

(From our 1965 Christmas card, from left to right: Darci, me and Lisa)

This whole process has led to some reminiscing. That's what we old people do.

I still know the first few phrases of the first vocal solo I ever sang for a festival. It was "The Green Cathedral." I think it was my 7th grade year. After racking my brain to remember the whole song, I couldn't resist finding the words on the internet. (As a side note, I just marvel at the internet. Back in the day, we had to do our research at the library, looking up stuff in the card catalog and then searching the stacks. It is just amazing what you can find by "Googling" something. Now there's a new word that didn't exist back in the day.)

But back to the music: Another song from my middle school music festival days was "Trees." It was a song set to the poetry of Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918). It was another gorgeous song. I don't know why we don't use it anymore.

I love the words of both these songs. The fact that I could remember some of them before I researched speaks volumes.

And as I was reading the words again, I thought about photographs that would illustrate the words. So, I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

The Green Cathedral
by Carl Hahn

I know a green cathedral

A shadowed forest shrine.

Where leaves in love join hands above

And arch your prayer and mine.

Within its cool depths sacred

The priestly cedar sighs

And the fir and pine lift arms divine

Unto the pure blue skies.

In my dear green cathedral there is a sheltered seat.

And choir loft in branched croft,

Where songs of bird hymns sweet

And I like to dream at evening

When the stars its arches light.

That my Lord and God treads in hallowed sod

In the cool calm peace of night.

by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see.
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is present
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast.

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray.

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair.

Upon whose bosom snow has lain
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me.
But only God can make a tree.

Photos were taken at Muir Woods in California, in Nashville's Cheekwood Botantical Gardens, Oklahoma City's Hefner Park and right here on the County Line.

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