Unitarian Hymnal Sing-along

In which Kathryn attempts to sing a different song everyday from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, 'Singing the Living Tradition'. Earlier posts are based on songs from the Reader's Digest songbooks she found at yard sales as a child, including: 'Reader's Digest Treasury of Best Loved Songs', 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook', and 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook of Faith and Joy'. Bonus Folk song material from: 'Folk Song USA', by John and Alan Lomax.

09 November 2005

"Dancing in the Dark"

A classic song, and one that's somehow quite different from what I thought it was. The basic elements I remember are here, yes, but there's more to it, or something. Not a favorite, but I would sing this again. I am still looking forward to going back and singing a lot of these. I’m trying to not think about the text of this one, I realize, since it reminds me of sad memories of school dances, ugh.

In my voice lesson today I realized, again, that I mistrust what seems too easy. It turns out that I developed some not very useful habits during my classical vocal training. I'm still very grateful for that training, not just for the knowledge of what it is, but because it fixed even worse habits that I had developed with no training. But now I'm learning singing for the masses, as it were; my husband says that it's learning how to sing songs that people actually sing to each other. I will always love large parts of the classical repertoire, but considering that I'm not one of the very few planning a career in it, this is just way more fun because it's more portable and transferable. I feel as if yet again, I've stumbled into the best place I could choose to be.

For the most part, when my voice comes out clear and strong, with no tension getting in the way, it feels relatively effortless. I know how to breathe and support, at least the basics, and since I'm accustomed to that part of things to some degree, that doesn't feel like a miracle. But singing without stress in my throat does. And what an interesting metaphor to apply to my life: thing don't have to feel effort-driven to be good. It's a real revelation for me, a light bulb over the head. Not applicable to everything, I'm sure, but that fact that's it's true here makes it a tool for the tool box of life, and I suspect I will find other places where this is true.

There is something here I can’t articulate completely quite yet: about what it is to be efficiently creating with skill and knowledge that comes from a deeper, less detail-driven place, because the good habits of creation have now been formed. From my piano lessons, for one, I know that that’s no ‘guarantee of continued perfection’ since when things get taken for granted they often crash and burn, but it’s an important starting place, to have the knowledge of what it is to do this thing as it should be done. It is a solid ground from which to step, or leap, forward.


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