Friday, May 3, 2013

How Can I Keep from Singing?

"My life flows on in endless song above earth's lamentation..." These words speak so personally to me.

Regularly called on to work with adolescents, I ask them to collaborate, to think, to feel deeply and to create something with their time and the music we sing together.  Today's culture does not always expect this of young people.  Robert Lowry writes in the last verse, "I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin; I see the blue above it. And day by day this pathway smooths since first I learned to love it." This text speaks so simply of those early days and this new arrangement is for these singers. 

I dedicated this piece to Dione Peterson, my high school choir director from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who now lives a few miles down the road. She has inspired generations of young people to sing for theirwhole lives and gave them the tools to do it. She helped us learn to love it.

Dione also taught me one of the most powerful lessons about choir that took me a while to learn: the most important part about singing together is the together part. As a high school student, I could never figure out why some others were in choir--they just goofed around and got in trouble. Dione helped me understand that choir was the one place that all of the tumult and strife in the rest of their their lives was silent. It was a place where everyone could belong.

One of my graduating college seniors who did not sing in her junior year sent these words to me yesterday: "What I realized was that I missed the honest community of choir, the openness of the members, the daily spiritual moments, the fulfillment I only receive from making music.  Chapel Choir is a time and space where I know our walls are stripped down, moving music will be made, and we will come together as one."

Thank you Dione.  How can I keep from singing?

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