Sunday, October 28, 2012

Long Hiatus and Choir Heartaches

It's been several months since I've posted last, which is strange for me.  I felt for awhile that since I write a pretty detailed "family letter" to my closest family members about once a month, that that should cover things pretty well.  And lately, I've been posting more pictures on Facebook.

So the blog went by the wayside.  But I've realized something recently.  I like keeping a journal. It's kind of crucial for me.  My whole life I've kept extensive journals.  You can see the entire bottom shelf of a large bookshelf in my bedroom to prove it.  But writing by hand is just kind of stinky nowadays.  I mean, who does that anymore?  Okay, honestly, I still DO keep a journal that I hand write and once every 2 or 3 months I pull it out and update any major changes or big milestones that have happened in those few months.  But writing down your thoughts that sparingly just doesn't heal my soul the way that writing in a weekly journal used to.  I've got too many things swimming around in my brain, and it will make me so much happier when I get things off my chest regularly. 

So I have to post today about how my ward calling is slowly making me crazy.  I've heard it said that if you're not enjoying you're ward calling, you're doing it wrong.    So, I admit it, I'm probably doing it all wrong.  Maybe by writing my feelings out, I'll be able to discover what I'm doing wrong.  I'm not worried about people even reading this blog (especially in my ward) because I don't advertise too much when I post things, nor have I told many people that I even have this blog.

So what is "it"?  I'm the ward choir director.  It's the only calling I can think of that you are abosolutely, 100% up to the mercy of others for it to even remotely go smoothly.  (Notice I said smoothly, not perfectly, or great, etc.)    With other callings in the church, you are not put up on the stand monthly in front of the entire ward, and expected to perform a spiritual, musically-uplifting, wonderful song.  And all this at the mercy of others.  It does not matter how much I practice.  Or if I've honed my conducting skills, or even if I can sing or not.  Not of that matters.  All that matters is how many people actually attend practices to support you.  Lately, I have had very few people attending ward choir practice.  I don't see how this is supposed to fulfill the previously-mentioned requirements.    Now here is my point of perhaps I am doing my calling all wrong.  I am somewhat of a musical perfectionist and want our stuff to actually sound good.  Like, really good.  I don't want people to think, "oh, okay, here's comes another ward choir performance.  Yea."  I think it's really okay to try and excel and make people say, "wow, that was a really great performance today!"   Other things we do in the church, we are told to do our best and excel at our callings--do everything possible to make it your best.  So, why, when it comes to ward choirs, are we sometimes told to "dumb it down" for the choir or to do songs that won't take too much work?  Do we "dumb down" our RS Lessons?  Do we "dumb down" our Ward activities or RS Meetings?  Heavens, no.  Imagine the critique you would receive.

And to put it in perspective of how stressful it is to completely rely on others to make your calling work, think of what it would mean if you were trying to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting or give a lesson to a bunch of kids, and the only way it would be a success is if you had to ask 10-15 people to come up and say a few sentences each and that would be your talk or lesson.   No matter how much preparation or prayers you put into it.  Now I'm sure you might be thinking, well what about service activities or set-up committees.  You have to rely on others for those things!  Sure, BUT (and this is a BIG BUT), if no one shows up, guess what!!  You can still do it!  You can clean the whole church.  You can plan the whole activity. You can bake all the treats for Scouts.  Sure, you'll probably be pretty upset about it, but you can still just do it all yourself!  With choir, there is NO WAY I can sing soprono, alto, tenor, and bass all alone and make it into a ward choir!!  It doesn't matter.  It's all about those others.  Now one could argue that, "sure, you can do better prep!  Serve breakfast at your choir practices!  Call peoples' houses weekly and peronally invite them!"  "Beg people if you have to!"  Well, I do send personal emails weekly, and when I'm particularly nervous, I do make personal phone calls.  I've personally invited wives to please allow their husbands, who have great voices to come to choir.  I've personally delivered music to peoples' houses the week of a performance because rehearsal attendance has been too sparse. I have begged.  It's actually getting kind of demeaning in a way.  I'm tired of inviting the same people.  I'm tired of feeling like every week I have to beg in the announcement bulletin to get people to come.  I have not served breakfast at my house for choir. Mostly because I have a 1200 square foot house with no room for choir, and 3 young kids, oh yeah, and I don't have a real piano, not to mention I certainly couldn't afford to feed a bunch of people every sinlge week. Trent and I have come to this conclusion:  For 95% of people out there that actually can sing pretty decently, they just plain don't want to spend an hour each week, in addition to church, to come to choir practice.  And no amount of inviting or begging is ever going to change that.  It's like that book that came out a few years ago, "He's Just Not That Into You,"  For choir, it would be, "They're Just Not That Into Choir."  And then there's the blessed regulars that come 75% of the time.  It's those people and only those 6 or 7 that make it work.  Without those blessed souls, I would literally have nothing.  So I guess I should just stop complaining, and praise those very few that come, and not worry that our Christmas program is not going to be a grand, stirring thing because our numbers are so small.  Everyone wants an amazing Christams program with emotional, powerful music about Christ, yet hardly anyone is willing to make it happen.   Please, entertain me!  Make me feel the spirit!  Yes, I love Christmas Music!  Just don't ask me to participate!!  I want to take naps on Sunday afternoon.  I have something else I have to go to that night--I couldn't possibly attend something for an hour in the afternoon, too!   

Okay, just so my whole post isn't so negative, I've included some recent pictures, too!
This one is me with Trent and mom and dad after my San Diego Interfaith Choir and Orchestra Concert.

 This is me (on the right) with two girlfriends in the choir.   These are people that yes, actually really like going to choir practices!!  (And the one next to me is the choir director in her ward.)

 These are pictures from the Miramar Air Show that we attended on October 13 when mom and dad were in town. 

Trent took this "paparazzi" shot after I came out of that airplane with the girls.  Mom's in the background.

 The Blue Angels in flight.  Pretty cool stuff!!

Mom and Dad treated us to Claim Jumper after the air show.    Yum!!

This was one day last week (October 17) when it was 80 degrees at the beach, so I took Sophie to the beach while the kids were in school! 

 She totally did this pose all on her own.  She thought she was pretty hot stuff!!

The girls wanted to be matching witches for Halloween.  Hailey told me they couldn't be princesses or brides anymore because Halloween was suppoed to be scary and they need to be "scary."

 Sophie pretending to be a big kid and go to preschool.  (That only lasted 2 weeks.  Since she's only 3, I pulled her out after 2 weeks because she was having a really hard time going and would cry at night about it, and begged to just "stay home with mommy.")

Hailey lost BOTH her front teeth only a couple weeks after she started kindergarten.

Cory started 3rd Grade and Hailey started Kindergarten.

 Cory in his football uniform after his first game with the Rancho Bernardo Broncos.  They won!

Sophie (and Hailey) with their daddy.