Friday, January 04, 2008

In which My Trusty Violin and I Join the Black History Month Choir

A couple of months ago, I saw an announcement in our lab's online newsletter, that they were seeking singers and musicians for the Black History Month celebration. My new and improved elbow is hurting less and less, so I decided to volunteer to play the violin. It sounded like it could be a really fun way to get back into playing a little bit.

Yesterday was the first rehearsal. I took Violinny to work with me, so that I could take her with me to the rehearsal. The turnout for the first rehearsal was rather low, because a lot of people are not back from vacation yet. But there were four other volunteers there, all of whom were singers, and pasty white just like me.

We are performing two gospel songs and two secular jazz songs. We worked on the gospel songs at this rehearsal. The singers were surprised and apprehensive to learn that there was no sheet music to these songs and that they'd have to pick it up by ear. I was surprised, too, but unlike them, I have extensive experience learning music by ear.

The choir director was surprised by their surprise and apprehension about the lack of sheet music, and, observing their unfamiliarity with this type of music, tried to gauge their feelings and make sure everybody was okay with it. "Well," lamented one man. "It's not like singing Palestrina." But I think it will be good for them to think outside the box.

The challenge for me will be the fact that -- believe it or not -- there's no violin part in gospel songs, so I'm going to have to create one for myself! The choir director gave me a CD of the two gospel songs, and I've been listening to it in the car when I'm driving to and from work. I have a few preliminary ideas of what I can do. I need to try them out before the next rehearsal.

Also, I guess I'll know better at the next rehearsal, but I think that the "orchestra" is going to consist of me, a pianist, and a percussionist. That's kind of an interesting combination, especially for gospel music. All we need is a ukelele and a harmonica, and we should be all set.


Saoirse said...

How cool! I am so glad that you are able to play again and that you are taking part in such an awesome celebration. :)

rachel said...

Go Bec!

Laura said...

That is fantastic that you get to play the violin! And yay for Black History Month. I enjoy gospel music but have never sung any, myself.