I've had three rehearsals now with the Youth Choir at First Pres, but this last one was quite different. During the week I was able to spend a good hour and a half on the phone with Linda Beaupré, my friend and mentor (I hope she won't mind me calling her either of those things!) After two practices I was really feeling my lack of knowledge in the area of coaching young guys whose voices are in transition. Aside from wanting to be able to really help them with the quality of their sound, I really didn't have a great idea of what range to put them in (since most of my knowledge comes from how I sing myself, and I've never been an adolescent guy). So, if I asked them to sing a particular melody line and they faltered on it or were very soft and tentative, I didn't know if it was just them being uncertain of the line, or if I was asking them to sing something way not in their range. Linda was a huge help in giving me tips on how to help them, and reminding me of how to foster good singing technique for the girls as well as guys.
Ken and I have decided to take a chunk of time in practice for the next few weeks to split the sections up, so the guys and girls get to work separately part of the time. Ken took the guys this past week, but I think I'll be confident to take them myself in the future. It was great to get to work with the girls, helping them to find their head tone and support the sound. Sometimes they shied away and laughed, especially if they thought something was high, but we did make some progress and I thought they were sounding pretty great afterwards. Music is so exciting in that you never stop learning. I am so grateful to Linda for all she has helped me with. (It's almost a year since she led the BCC so beautifully at our wedding!)
In other news, I'm going to Tulsa! In November the Youth Choir is taking a trip to visit a university and sing in worship on Sunday morning. They do this each fall, picking a city with a university where a Youth Choir alumnus or alumna is attending, so they get the chance to show their friends around. So, I get to go along and make my Oklahoma conducting debut. How much Andrew Donaldson can we learn in the next six weeks...? ;)