Another day at the UUMN conference in Dallas. I continue to learn a lot – much more than I could possibly process. I'm glad I'm taking notes! I also learned that handouts from the sessions will eventually be available on the UUMN website, so that'll be helpful.
We started with another service, and then we had an excellent plenary session. By the way, I had to look up "plenary" to learn that a plenary session is a session that everyone can attend. There typically four or five things happening during any given time slot, but nothing else is scheduled during the plenary session. If I learned nothing else today, I know what a plenary session is. Anyway, the plenary session was a good one. The focus was how to use technology to enhance a service rather than just using technology for the sake of using it.
After the plenary session, we had another good choir rehearsal. I am a conductor who stops and starts frequently, which I'm sure exasperates my choir. This conductor does the same thing. Now I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end. That doesn't mean I'll change! It just means that now I know how it feels. (I'm sure my choir members will be amused to read this.)
One of the choir pieces is in German. I can fake my way through Spanish, Latin, and Italian fairly well, but not German! The conductor talked us through it. I made notes as quickly as I could, but I wasn't able to keep up. Fortunately, my roommate is an opera singer who is used to singing in German, and he's agreed to help me with my pronunciation.
I brought my guitar and managed to fit in an hour of practice during lunch. I noticed yesterday that a few others brought instruments and managed to find rooms to hide away to practice a little. (It's a big church.) I followed suit and did the same today. I'm enjoying the conference, but it was nice to have a quiet moment with my guitar. I don't think I'll be practicing on my own tomorrow, though. A piano player spotted me today and remembered from the newcomer introductions that I was a jazz guitarist. He invited me to a jam session tomorrow during lunch. How can I say no to a jam session?
Following lunch, I attended a piano literature workshop. From this workshop, I received information about collections of piano music that work well for services. I'll take that list home and give it to NWUUC's accompanist and to the piano players in the congregation.
After the piano literature workshop, I attended a session by Paul Tucker, our choir director. His talk was about unifying a choir with vowels and relative volume. Frankly, I was out of my depth in this session, but maybe what he told us will make sense after I've had more experience as a choir director. I did pick up a few good tips, but I honestly found myself wishing that I had attended the workshop in creating a musical meditation service, which was going on at the same time. This is why I'm glad that each workshop's handouts will be made available on the UUMN website.
We ended the day with another choir repertoire reading session. We read through a lot of music for advanced choir. There was some challenging music in that batch! It was beyond what our choir can currently handle, but we did read through one piece that I think would be within our reach. Also, I had engraved three of the pieces that we read today. Again, I had to resist the urge to elbow the person next to me and let him know whenever we sang a piece that I engraved.
There is a banquet tonight, but I am just too tired to go. I am absolutely wiped out. I'm going to grab a bite and then turn in early. Tomorrow is a longer day, and I need to rest up.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.