Yesterday’s workshop went well. It was fun. The Computer Guy stayed safely at the PowerPoint podium and showed off the Sketchup and I crept around helping people . I think that it is hugely easier to learn a new computer application if there is somebody like me right there to say, “It’s okay, you’ve just zoomed in so much that you can’t see the shape any more” and help fix it. It might have been the first time The Computer Guy has ever had applause for building something onscreen — there was a spontaneous outburst of admiration for his pioneer cabin.
I raced right off to do some vocal coaching for this week’s church soloist.
I was expecting someone with pitch problems. I figured we’d work on breath support and help her get the notes, and come up with a nice little solo.
This woman can really sing. If she had a CD out, I’d buy it.
She kept saying, “Am I off? I feel like I’m off there.”
I said, “You have a wonderful, special sound.”
“That means I’m off pitch, right?”
Finally I had to say, “You are on pitch all the time. You don’t have to think about that any more. Forget that.”
Not only did she sing on pitch, which is usually as far as you can expect to get with someone who asks for help with her solo, but she is a stylish singer.
“Are you nervous?” I asked her.
Her face crumpled.
“I don’t get why you’re nervous. Someone who sounds like you has no reason to be nervous. Not only is it beautiful, but if someone who had heard you before were walking in the hallway, they’d know it was you. You have a really special sound. But when you’re thinking, ‘Am I off pitch? Am I singing it wrong?’ I can hear that you’re thinking about that.”
She said she didn’t like to cause people trouble by making mistakes.
“That can matter in some cases,” I tried to agree, “but in this case, CD is the accompanist and you’re the soloist. It’s her job to keep up with you. It’s your job to sing. You can do whatever you want.”
We talked about creating some space for her voice and not squishing the high notes, and she sang through her song a few more times. She began to feel more comfortable.
“I need to try out the microphone,” she said.
“Why? You don’t need a microphone.”
“I’m a loud person,” she said ruefully.
I’ve never before run into anyone who could take all compliments and turn them into criticisms.
“Listen,” I said, because after all she had asked me to help, “when you’re singing this song, you shouldn’t be thinking about yourself. You know the song, you don’t have any trouble with pitch, you sound great, so you don’t have to think about those things. There might be someone in the church that morning who really needs the message you’re singing. There might be people for whom this song is what they need to experience worship fully that day. Think about them, not about yourself. Then you won’t be nervous.”
You might not think it, but I have a pretty good line in the Impassioned Speech department.
I asked if she would honor me by allowing me to sing with her sometime.
She said she couldn’t plan past this one song.
“You have to. Otherwise, you’ll get through this one song and thank God for letting you survive and never do it again. And I’m standing here thinking I can’t believe we had someone like you in the congregation and never got you up to sing.”
We ran into Janalisa in the hall and I informed her that she would have to do a trio with us. She has the highest voice of the three, then the new singer, and I’m the lowest. I have a plot for us to sing Anonymous 4’s arrangement of “Noah’s Weary Dove.” I don’t intend to allow either of them to escape.
Now, I don’t know whether I have mentioned in these pages the problem with the church’s web site. There is one. And it is largely the fault of one person. He’s an IT guy, so The Computer Guy checked out the situation for me.
“He’s very insecure,” he said.
So when CD and I went out for coffee following the wonderful coaching session, I asked her what might be the best way to approach this insecure person.
CD is a counselor. I expect her to know these things.
I pointed out that she had already seen my technique with the insecure in our vocal coaching session: I tell them to buck up and quit thinking about themselves so much.
While I do believe that insecure people think about themselves too much, and indeed that thinking about oneself too much is the source of lots of unhappiness, I don’t feel sure that this approach will work with the IT guy. And we want him to do a couple of specific things. And also he and I are on a committee together and I went to be able to get along with him.
CD didn’t actually have a solution. I had thought she could say, “Here’s what you do with insecure people” but apparently it doesn’t work that way.
CD offered to drive with me to my appointment in the Next County to the North today. Being a counselor, she understands agoraphobia and recognizes that having someone else in the car makes all the difference.
“You didn’t think I was going to drive on the freeway, did you? You have way too high an opinion of me.”
Nope. I am going to leave way early and take the surface roads. If I get there too early, I can stop for coffee. I’m going to take my sketch block, so I can work on web sites.
If they can offer me just Tuesday and Thursday morning classes, and if they pay a reasonable amount, I’ll do it. Otherwise, I am feeling confident enough of having enough work to do that I will feel fine about saying, “Call me when you need people in my county.”
This school actually has a corporate branch about four minutes from my house. I could teach The Dark Art there. How fun would that be? This is my eventual goal, in fact, though I do like teaching Freshman Comp and will be happy to be back to doing that if they can give me a schedule with minimal driving.
After that appointment I have to go pick up #2 son’s bleaching trays and then get back here and finish those web sites. I realize that I have been saying all week that I was going to do that, and here they are not finished yet. If I don’t get them done today, I’ll have to do them tomorrow. Otherwise, I plan a PSD (Personal Sewing Day).