Lauren Carley — Joy of Singing (Fall 2018)


Greetings everybody on a dreary morning; so glad you turned up. Could I see how many people are new to OLLI this session? Great; a few of us. I know you’ve heard my pitch for the most part, but I want to let everybody that’s new know that we do meet on Monday mornings at 10 o’clock with about 45 to 50 people to learn more about letting sound out of our body and participating in what that feels like, sounds like, especially when we make sounds together. The people that have come and joined us over the years have always asked me questions and I was wondering… I’m gonna list some of those and ask you to raise your hand if this might be hiding in your brain someplace. “Can I hide among others so I won’t be embarrassed by my voice?” Yeah, there’s somebody. “My respiratory system seems blocked; will singing help me to learn to breathe better?” Nobody for that; everybody breathes good. “I want to learn how to sing so I can play my cello or my piano better or my banjo better.” Anybody with that? “I only sing in my car because I’m afraid everybody would leave the room if I ever sang.” Anybody have that problem? Great. “I want to lead family singing at my holiday dinner but I’m totally scared that I can’t start on a pitch.” Okay. Well I just thought I’d add those because I want everyone to know that it’s called a chorus and we do make an instant chorus of part songs, unison singing, and they’re Arabic, Hebrew, Swedish Ukrainian, as well as English and American. You know: chant, part songs, fun things, some of which you might know… For example I mean we do start out just very simply. Would you mind standing if you can? We start out quite simply by making a joyful noise to greet the room it looks like this *loud music note* Can you do that? *repeat note* Great. So we just let our voice out. That embarrassing thing is over, right? And then we take a big breath and let it out let’s say by… let’s purse our lips a little bit like a boy soprano in the Oxford chorus… okay… and then let out air. Breathe in… great… and then let’s let out air on like a pitch like this *sung note* And then let’s put an M at the end of that so it sounds like home so *hooommee* A little bit like chanting. So we start easy, right? And everybody can let out their voice, and then we might add some other pitches to it like this *home home on the range* Let’s try that *home home on the range* and then it goes “where the deer and the antelope play” *where the deer and the antelope play* and then *where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day* With the easy songs that we might remember — you know you are one of the last generations that even had music that learned songs on the regular… you know every week or something in school, except when you have one of those fancy-schmancy schools — but we sing a lot of the old tunes and then we add them from around the world. We move our bodies so that we get some action going here in It’s a participatory involvement and in the aging conference that Susan mentioned the science is beginning to prove what all of us choral directors and teachers have known anecdotally forever: that singing and the sound waves and the vibration in the body lifts the spirits and creates a sense of emotional engagement. And indeed over the 12 years that we’ve been singing together we have created a subset of community that is here in OLLI in the larger community. And I want you to know that people have gone on… Time’s up but I will say this last thing: some people just stay and come back every term over the years, which is fabulous, and certain people have gone on to sing festivals in the United Kingdom, at Carnegie Hall, in Ireland, in Paris, and sing here with local choirs. So I want to invite you, no matter what your experience, to please come and join us on Monday mornings.

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