At shape note this afternoon I tried leading a song for the first time. All that actually involves is beating time with your hand while everyone sings -- you don't even have to do dynamics.* But that's still pretty intimidating when all my brain cells are tied up just trying to read notes and words (not to mention sing them) all at once. The last thing I wanted on top of all that was to have everyone watching me for the beat. But I kind of felt like I should start learning to do this, rather than always making other people lead my choices for me, so I actually practiced for a while this weekend beforehand. I chose number 430, Arbacoochee (great name, huh?) because it only has one verse, it's in 2, the bass part isn't too hard, and I have it on a CD. Plus I just like it. I practiced the bass part on the piano until I knew it pretty well, then practiced waving my arm with the CD and singing. (This is a when-housemates-are-out type of activity, like practicing guitar.) When it came time to do it for real this afternoon, I managed successfully to screw it up completely right from the start. Major nervous train wreck in my brain. Blah. But several kind souls jumped in and got us back on track and then I handled the rest of it pretty well. So that was good. I am probably proud of it rather out of proportion to its actual importance. Oh well. I'm learning, and that's good.
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* Most shape note songs are written without dynamics, and people just belt them out all the way through. At least one song though has a few markings. There are some staccatos and accents, and then a double forte. Peter's joke on this one is to always remind us to quiet down for that double forte.