As I was driving home, memories from the conference kept swirling through my brain. Here are some random snapshots.
- The powerful experience of being in a room full of wonderful singers all belting out a hymn for the first time.
- Being around a couple hundred other people who do what I do and knowing that I'm not alone in this profession. It was fun to swap stories and realize that everyone else shares similar experiences and faces similar challenges. Others were able to offer advice in how to solve some of the issues I face, and even though I've only been a music director for two years, I have my own unique set of experiences, and so I was able to offer help to others.
- Being asked to play guitar with the band that played in a workshop on contemporary worship music.
- Being pleasantly surprised to see Don Southworth, who used to be the minister at my own church.
- Getting daily texts from a friend back home who was checking on my progress. It was great to be at this big conference for the first time, learning as much as possible, but it also was nice to share my experiences with someone back home. It helped me feel grounded, and I began looking forward to those check ins.
- Realizing, after the valet handed me the car keys, how nice it was not to not drive for almost a week.
- Hearing everyone in the sanctuary spontaneously sing Sarah Dan's own hymn to her (Meditation on Breathing) after her last speech as outgoing president of the UUMN.
- Missing the children's choir repertoire and techniques workshop after being recruited to play for the contemporary worship music workshop, and then having someone walk up to me and hand me the music and handouts from the children's workshop without me even asking.
- Hearing the children's choir sing their first note when they joined the adult choir.
- Being so tired the last evening that, when I got back to my room, I took one shoe off and then had to take a break before I had the energy to take off the other shoe.
- Having a profound experience attending the musical meditation service, and looking forward to taking that concept back home to my own church.
- Looking at my watch on the ride home after five hours in the car, realizing that I would have just then been leaving Dallas if I had stayed to croak my way through the choir pieces, and realizing I made the correct decision for my health.
- The most profound thing that came out of the conference, at least for me, was a clinician who told us that the secret to good singing is that there is no secret. It is a gradual accumulation of small skills over time.
There's more. It'll all start to sink in after a week or two. I'm looking forward to sharing much of this with Terry Davis, the minister at NWUUC.
Like most introverts, when I experience something new like this conference, I spend most of my time observing rather than jumping in. Next year, I would like to participate more. I would like to be one of the guinea pigs in a conducting masterclass, and I would like to play guitar and sing as much as possible in services and workshops. For the masterclasses, I need to pay attention to the announcements and sign up as soon as possible when there is a call for conductors. To participate as a musician, I need to stay in touch with the people I've met and make myself available.
That's it! That's my first UUMN conference experience. Now it's time to sleep in my own bed and not set the alarm.