Thursday night is our Sanctuary Choir rehearsal. The 150 members, who are either music educators, music artists, former ministers of music, or members of the Los Angeles Opera Chorus, and a few, like me, ordinary singers, sang their hearts out as they learned 10 songs, from classics to Oratorio, from old hymns to contemporaries, and from English to German and Spanish.
You're asking for my qualifications for joining this group of professionals? Well, let me put it this way. I and a few others are the thorns in the bush. hehehe... Unfortunately, with my height, I have been assigned in the first center row...so conspicuous to thousands of church goers even with the presence of the church symphony orchestra; hence, I have to fake sometimes. When there's a grave at the very end of our song and I already run out of gas, I would just open my mouth as wide and beautiful, shape as precise as possible to the sound of the word, voiceless, just waiting for that kettle drum to be struck, so that I could change the placement of my lips to produce the last phone.
I actually know how to "sight read"; I know all those musical notations. Besides of my mom's guidance, while I still have runny nose, I attended a Bible College in the Philippines for a year, where I formally learned how to sing well. Now don't ask for more; otherwise, I would be telling you that I am a videoke addict and the neighbors' "grammy awardee". Honestly, I am just waiting for some rocks to rain over our rooftop. Those rocks would indicate that my neighbors are bestowing that laurel to another competing neighbor in our ghetto. hahaha..
Anyways, during rehearsals, the music director always reminds us on basic things so that we can effectively convey God's message through our songs.
Last week, our music director reminded us that an expert singer must have the following:
1) Clear diction
2) Beautiful Tone
3) Good Posture
4) Markings on his musical scores
5) Watches the conductor's directives
He reminded us that as singers, we are setting a tone, conveying a message, and expressing a feeling that would prepare the hearts and minds of the congregation to listen to the Word of God.
Now, what's this got to do with effective communication in a regular setting?
I just would like to emphasize that, if in a choir a clear diction, beautiful tone, and paying attention are very essential, it is far more important to apply these daily at our workplace.
The message, when talking over the phone, may be misconstrued if we don't have a clear diction. We have to pronounce those letters well, so as not to be misunderstood. Most of our church choir members are native English speakers and music professionals, and yet our music director cannot just have enough to pound our head to enunciate the words clearly. This Sunday, our song has a phrase, "All Christ is, He is within us". We were reminded, time and again, to produce the sound of /t/ final in "Christ", because we don't want to convey the message that "All cries is He is within us". See the difference? Omitting the /t/ final would completely send a wrong message. With a 50-man symphony orchestra providing the accompaniment, we have to produce /t/ as loud as we could. In fact, I am a little nervous on Sundays. I'm afraid that my denture would fall off and it would hit either one of the violinists or the pianist who are sitting and playing right in front of me. It would be a disaster. hehehe.
Beautiful tone must be emphasized even in our daily conversation. Definitely, the tone has something to do with ones culture. That's why we hear some people commenting that 'he/she talks like a chirping bird', or 'he/she talks like a drum'. Others are turn off immediately even before someone opens his/her mouth, because the tone of his/her voice doesn't appeal to them. We sometimes say that a person is mad, even if he/she is really not, just because he/she drops his/her words like a bomb, or he/she shouts every time he/she talks. Honestly, I often times have to remind myself to tone down my voice when talking. Sorry, it is cultural for me to talk loud. Consequently, I sometimes forget that in some societies, the tone will either give a "green or red signal". Am I a good person? Absolutely; however, those who are not used to my culture would think otherwise.
I know... I know...it's a little difficult to polish the manner of speaking that has been ingrained in our psyche since birth, but constant practice has been a big help to me. Why not try it? You would see the difference.
For those who already have bought my gift book, PRAISING ALL SEASONS LONG: Haiku Verses, I thank you very much.
Also, I found out that Barnes & Noble has posted that they're now out of stock. I believe you could still place a pre-order with them. However, if you would like to have your copy very soon, you could place your order on Amazon.com, Target.com, and to the publisher, Comfort Publishing online store. Those who are considering to get their copy, I thank you very much. "PRAISING..." is only $9.99, "KOILAWAN" is $ 13.99, but you can get a discounted price in some online outlets.