Almost 3 years ago, Older Daughter took up the challenge of directing one of our church choirs. Shortly after, I started singing with that choir. It was good to get back to choral singing as I had not sung in a group since high school.
As we had a fledging choir, Older Daughter ended up having to wear many hats: Director, Conductor, Singer, Music Arranger. Apart from singing, I thought maybe I could help out in the arena of conducting. After all, Older Daughter made it look so easy and fun. So, I decided to take a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on the subject through Coursera, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
It was great fun and I enjoyed the 25 hours of watching the videos and working through the assignments. In order to practice what I was learning, Older Daughter gave me the opportunity to work with the choir during practice sessions and actually conduct some of the songs during Mass.
The first time I conducted at Mass remains a complete blur. The second was nerve-wrecking as I was somewhat aware that there were people depending on me set the pace, cue them in & keep time. The third I was better able to watch myself and the reaction I got from the choir. That was when I realised this was not a process I enjoyed.
Firstly, it was difficult for me to use my left & right hands to communicate different ideas: my hands insisted on mirroring each other (read: death knell for a conductor!). Secondly, I found it difficult to communicate musical ideas to the choir in order to help them sing more coherently and to set a certain mood. Finally, I realised that I simply enjoyed singing more than I enjoyed conducting.
So, while I was grateful for the opportunity for the learning through the MOOC, and the hands-0n work with the choir, I think I will stick with singing.
Photo taken from the Choir Pit of the Church of St Ignatius, Singapore, in view of the Conductor’s Stand during a moment of quiet before Mass began.