I sing as often as possible. A voice teacher back in college labelled me a dramatic soprano, but my range runs from alto on up. In August 2000 I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a workshop called No Wrong Notes led by David Roth at the Omega Institute. It was wonderful, and I was reminded of how much joy I get from making music. I went to Elise Witt’s Singing for Fun workshop more recently, and it was an incredible experience.
As a soprano I’ve been spoiled by usually singing the melody in any choral group. Spoiled or maybe crippled. In any case, in the last year or two I’ve just fallen in love with making harmony, and really prefer to sing harmony parts if I can find the right notes.
I prefer lullabies and bluesy torch songs to most other sorts of music, but will sing anything from gospel to rock to art songs when appropriate. Cole Porter’s Love for Sale (a fairly traditional version, definitely not the one from the Red Hot and Blue album!), Carly Simon’s Holding Me Tonight, and Better Not Tell Her, Bonnie Raitt’s Something to Talk About,
and (as a duet with a friend) Dan Hill’s Sometimes When We Touch (we did the French version, which is Quand Nos Corps Se Touchent–rather more explicit than the English lyrics–I think it was probably an arrangement originally done for Ginette Reno?) are a few of the songs I’ve performed.
I’m leaning more and more to contemporary folk music these days, and our copies of Rise Up Singing are starting to look well-loved, to say the least (yes, as soon as the new volume is out, we’ll own copies of it). I’m rather annoyed that The Prairie Home Companion Folk Song Book is out of print—if anyone knows of a source, please let me know! My next purchase of a music book will likely be Kate Marks’ Circle of Song, although Songs for Earthlings and Libana’s songbook and A Bard’s Book of Pagan Songs : Stories and Music from the Celtic World are very tempting as well.
I was a regular soloist and stalwart choir member before leaving the Southern Baptist church, and I miss that a lot–but not enough to be a hypocrite and go back just for the music. I sang a fair number of older hymns and gospel songs (Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross, and so on) as well as contemporary Christian songs from artists like Sandi Patti, Cynthia Clawson and occasionally Amy Grant. I remember enjoying a group called Truth, but their songs were usually arranged for ensembles–and I listened to Acappella quite a lot. I’ve promised my mother that if I ever find the arrangement Manhattan Transfer used for Operator I will return to her church to sing it with any suitable ensemble (I have the sheet music to the song, but it’s an solo arrangement–and my talents don’t really extend to picking out the harmony from the CD). Our family was involved in a local Unitarian Universalist congregation, and I really enjoyed singing in the choir again—the congregation also had a monthly jam session, and I really enjoyed those. At one time there were three different monthly singing sessions around Atlanta, but at the moment I’m only aware of one, and it happens while I’m working.
I sang with an a cappella vocal band named Trybalaka for a bit. That was a wonderful experience.
My first instrument was the ukulele, way back in second grade. The entire class learned to play. I kept it up for years, probably annoying my family. That ukulele became Katie’s “guitar” but survived the experience, lasting until a move in 2012. I replaced it with a much nicer tenor uke recently, but I haven’t gotten my chops back yet.
I play the piano–but only in private to protect innocent ears these days. I’ve lost the sensation in half of my left hand–but hey, I have an excuse other than being out of practice! I think I could probably get better again with practice, and I’d love to get an electric piano with weighted keys (electric so there’s no need for tuning worries). Years ago I actually played well enough to accompany the senior citizens’ and children’s choirs at church (I have to admit that I was drafted—I was too petrified to have ever volunteered!), but I wouldn’t dare try now without a lot of practice.
I played the flute through middle school and high school, and toyed with several other woodwind and percussion instruments (bassoon, oboe, piccolo). I’ve found that I prefer the sounds of a wood flute I got at a Renaissance Festival a few years ago to the metal flutes more commonly used today. Katie got an ocarina a few years back and both of us played it from time to time.
I would love to learn to play acoustic guitar–but I am an absolute wimp thinking about building up those calluses! I always seemed to end up dating the fellows who played guitar during informal jam sessions after trips in my school days, and to be honest it would be much simpler to be able to play for myself. (But does anyone else remember when every guy on earth seemed to know the entire Eagles repetoire, Wildfire, Dan Fogelberg’s Forever, a couple of John Denver pieces, and Rocky Top? Was that what was in their primer books or what?)
Last updated July 28, 2015