Sandy’s Thoughts: Starting the Summer

As Jonathan and I prepare to begin our summer sessions of Encore “Rocks”, and look ahead at both the challenge and excitement of creating the musical experience, it’s easy to get caught up in the details:

  • do we need to make a seating chart, now that the Clare choir has 75 people?
  • what if the 25 extra copies of “Beach Boys” that are on backorder don’t get here in time?
  • are we going to do lanyard name tags or stickers?

And all of those details are important―critical, even.  Insufficient attention to those can have a negative effect on everyone’s experience, and can certainly distract from what we come together to do.  So lots of our time in these weeks before the first rehearsal is at the service of making the rehearsals go smoothly, anticipating potential problems and assuring that they don’t happen, and figuring out how the “housekeeping” part of rehearsal can be quick and efficient―we want to get to the fun and singing!

But details can get a little tedious.  So I’ve been paying attention to how Jon and I handle that.  I’m, by nature, more of the detail-person―I derive far more satisfaction than Jon does in crossing things off my to-do list, in seeing the tidy stack of 100 music packets tucked in their box, in putting the 50th (and final) Tenor/Bass practice CD in the burner.  Jonathan’s creative spirit is quickly bogged-down with checklists and invoices.  He escapes into the music.  His hands may be dutifully putting CD’s in sleeves, or typing a concert schedule, but the whole time, he’s humming, “It’s My Party”.  His mind is far away from the details―he’s already at our final concert at Fourth Presbyterian, rock band and all!

And my mind?  I’m thinking about what it is that we’re doing―not the music part (thankfully, Jon’s got that covered!) ―but the people part.  I’m thinking back to the end of one of our Hinsdale rehearsals, last April.  As singers left Rotary North, I was standing at the back of the room, dealing with a couple of questions, and I watched four of our singers gather at the door.  They were waiting for a fifth singer, and were heading out to have lunch together.  They chatted happily as they walked out, and I realized that until Encore brought them together in January, only two of them knew each other.  The experience of coming together to sing and their wish to be part of a choir, had created some new friendships.  How cool!

Encore is about great singing, for sure.  Jonathan puts his heart and talents into making a quality rehearsal that’s also fun.  He’s committed to teaching and helping everyone to grow as singers.  The creative process, as expressed in the arts, is his passion. That’s certainly what Encore is about.  And at the same time, it’s also about another kind of creating―the creation of community.  We start out as (mostly) strangers; we come together every week with a goal of making music together; we share the hard work of hitting the right notes and blending our voices; we make mistakes and share in our mastery; we laugh together and give ourselves a “high five” after we finally conquer those tricky measures.  And all the while, a connection is being woven, a bond is being formed.  As we stand together week after week, literally sharing vibrations as well as sharing bits of our lives, we become knitted together.  As you probably already know, much is written about the health benefits of choral singing, both physical health and mental health.  Certainly much of that is a result of singing itself; breathing deeply, the good posture it encourages, the stretching we do in warm-up, etc.

And although less is written about it, and it’s certainly harder to document in a research study, the creation of community and the relationships that are made enhance our health as well.  We humans are social beings; we depend on, and thrive on, our connections to each other.  Last winter I heard a singer comment to her fellow soprano that coming to the 10:00 rehearsal was the first time she’d spoken with anyone that day.  We need connection.  We need to feel that we are not alone.  So when I hear singers talking at our mid-rehearsal break, and they’re sharing photos of a new grandson, or asking how it went at the doctor’s appointment last week, or asking if someone has time to grab a cup of coffee after rehearsal, I am filled with joy.  We’re creating many things, music for sure―and also joy and health and connections.  So as I print out the 93rd name tag, my heart is full.  That’s what this is all about.

 

16 thoughts on “Sandy’s Thoughts: Starting the Summer

  1. Beautifully said Sandy. We are all so grateful that you and Jonathan have chosen to share your gifts, talents and hearts with all of us. Xo

  2. Thanks for all you do, Sandy. Hope you and Jonathan get at least a little time to kick back this summer. mk

  3. You two are incredible. I am so happy to have been brought into your world. I will miss the summer program but look forward to seeing the finished product at First Pres!
    Pat Albu

  4. To my family and everyone who has asked me I reply, “Joining Encore was the very best thing I’ve done since I retired!”
    Since January Tuesdays were my favorite day of the week. After rehearsal I was so energized I didn’t know what to do first. The people I’ve met are terrific! and its great to have made new friends. It really was a spiritual experience.

    Thanks to Linda for absolutely everything. And thanks to all of you for making me feel welcome when I arrived in January. Look forward to all of us being together in September.

    WOW! Concordia was really something!

  5. Thanks, Sandy…..I enjoyed your musings. I definitely am a combination of both you and Jon. My musical expectations
    are rather high for myself though I have eased up on my Encore expectations. The surprise has been how amazing
    the Encore Chorales have improved since their inception……Now, not only do I enjoy the social aspect of the rehearsals, but now I thoroughly enjoy the musical sounds as well as Jon’s teaching tidbits. What a great teacher Jon
    has become! Best Wishes, Judy

  6. Beautifully said, Sandy. I’m very aware of how much you both work to create that joyful atmosphere, and I’ve watched it thrive, as well as benefiting myself. And more research is coming out about the neurological benefits. The latest had to do with mild hearing impairment and how hearing/matching pitches helps distinguish voices from background noise.
    Just a reminder, I’ll miss 6/14 as it’s our choir gathering, back HOME! Judy, Lynn and I have added Ellie, Doug and Mark for a rendition of “When I’m 64.” We’ll credit you!

  7. Hi Sandy and Jonathan
    These “musings” only reinforce what a great group Encore is. Your talents and concerns surpass expectations and bind the chorus lovingly.
    So sad I’ve been unable to return but there is hope for the future.
    Best wishes
    Diane Panozzo

  8. Sandy, I am so very glad that you and Jonathan complement each other so well and inspire each of your Encore groups to make beautiful music together as well as forming new friendships, One of the very first things I noticed about Jonathan was his passion and his playfulness. You take care of the details and keep us all on the right track. Thank you for being so very welcoming and encouraging.

    See ya’ll next Wednesday. Can hardly wait!

    Betsy B

  9. Dear Sandy,

    Your musings were so enlightening and my spirit soars when I recall all I experienced in the Arlington Heights chorale. I wish I could be part of the summer sessions but traveling to other locations is not
    something I can do easily. So I am looking forward to the first session in the fall to be part of your and
    Jonathan’s wonderful opportunity to continue singing and sharing with new and old friends.

    Ruthanne

  10. Thanks for the friendly thoughts, as well as for all you do, Sandy.

    I am wondering what is the appropriate way to find out whether anyone in the Clare chorus this summer will be driving out to the sight singing class and would be interested in carpooling, or perhaps in chauffeuring for a fee. Might I simply ask the group at the first Encore session Monday, 6/12, and ask them to call me? Might Jonathan be willing to put the question to the group generally that day? (That might sound friendliest, but exchanges that ensue could take time away from our agenda. ) Would it violate confidentiality for you to generate a contact list of sight-singing class members, or just the ones in the Gold Coast chorus, with
    their addresses and phone numbers?

    Here, to expedite whatever strategy you recommend. are mine: Sharon Meltzer, 415 East North Water Street, 312-955-9550.

    Thank you for being detail-oriented on our behalf!

  11. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Thanks for the friendly thoughts, as well as for all you do, Sandy.
    I am wondering what is the appropriate way to find out whether anyone in the Clare chorus this summer will be driving out to the sight singing class and would be interested in carpooling, or perhaps in chauffeuring for a fee. Might I simply ask the group at the first Encore session Monday, 6/12, and ask them to call me? Might Jonathan be willing to put the question to the group generally that day? (That might sound friendliest, but exchanges that ensue could take time away from our agenda. ) Would it violate confidentiality for you to generate a contact list of sight-singing class members, or just the ones in the Gold Coast chorus, with
    their addresses and phone numbers?
    Here, to expedite whatever strategy you recommend. are mine: Sharon Meltzer, 415 East North Water Street, 312-955-9550.
    Thank you for being detail-oriented on our behalf!

    1. Thanks for the friendly thoughts, as well as for all you do, Sandy.
      I am wondering what is the appropriate way to find out whether anyone in the Clare chorus this summer will be driving out to the sight singing class and would be interested in carpooling, or perhaps in chauffeuring for a fee. Might I simply ask the group at the first Encore session Monday, 6/12, and ask them to call me? Might Jonathan be willing to put the question to the group generally that day? (That might sound friendliest, but exchanges that ensue could take time away from our agenda. ) Would it violate confidentiality for you to generate a contact list of sight-singing class members, or just the ones in the Gold Coast chorus, with
      their addresses and phone numbers?
      Here, to expedite whatever strategy you recommend. are mine: Sharon Meltzer, 415 East North Water Street, 312-955-9550.
      Thank you for being detail-oriented on our behalf!

  12. Beautifully said., Sandy. I do feel I’ve grown as a singer through the warm up exercises, all Jonathan’s musical teaching and artistic directing, and I’ve been happy to make new friends.
    The two of you have made the Encore experience a joy. It’s fun, it’s warm, you’ve made us all welcome, it’s educational, interesting, invigorating., inspiring.

  13. Thanks for all that you do! And, for sharing a bit of who you and Jonathan are. Encore has definitely expanded my community. Since singing in the OPRF group, I’ve run into fellow members around the community and number of times. People who I’d not have known if not for Encore. Looking forward to the next Encore experience.

  14. I was drifting deep into thought as I read your musings. You express so well for me what Encore means to me. It brings me hope, joy, fun but mostly the new friendships. Thank you so much.

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