When I enter into a relationship with someone, I want it to go both ways, especially with children. Like it or not, we have a tremendous effect on them. They see and hear everything, and especially notice whether they're being excluded or included in our lives and the decisions that affect us all. I had the oportunity to spend ten days with the Virginia Girls Choir in June, and we recorded what's turning out to be a really different and great Christmas CD (Look for it soon: An Unexpected Christmas.)
We met in 2009 at their choir camp and got along well, me trying to remember twenty-plus names in three days, and them trying to have a little more fun than the structure allowed (just like I used to do). I was asked to come back for Christmas, and we had some fun, but Christmas is crazy; plus I was still trying to remember all those names (about which they tested me mercilessly), and recovering from a terrible cold.
Dan called in April (have I mentioned the extremely talented, funny and adorable Dan Moriarty, whom I've known just 18 months, and with whom I am developing a fine friendship? It turns out we work well together, too. Nice. The fact that we're both from Long Island is a plus in this relationship. Who knew? The other, bigger plus is that he's great with the girls and has the patience of a saint (I'm hoping some of it rubs off in my direction). Dan is the fearless, overworked leader of the VA Girls Choir, the organist/choir director at St. Stephen's church in Richmond, VA, and a truly fine guy. He called and asked if I wanted to work on a Christmas CD with the girls. I said yes. That was before I realized it meant recording Christmas carols in late June, with the temperature hitting 104 degrees (I really need to be better about thinking these things through!).
The girls are young (10-14), and the oldest have only been singing together for two years, so some things are just not possible. However, the things that are possible are fun and beautiful, and I like nothing more than to be able to work with young musicians and help them feel good about themselves and their musicianship. This was driven home to me when I borrowed Lorin's folder one day and saw her markings in the music. The skills they learn (both technical and relational) while singing in this choir will serve them and change their lives forever, in a very good way. Being a member of a group like this is a transformative experience. Whether they're introverted, extroverted, immature or not, happy or not, great singers or people who will sing for fun with the car radio when they grow up, they are mostly sweet, and fun to work with, and it's been nice to watch them learning how to be in a group that is always changing. It was incredible to get to know them, learn their strengths and weaknesses, and watch the dynamics of tweens and teens together.
This month I've been sitting in the recording studio trying to turn all of our hard work into something even more beautiful and lasting than it seemed it might be while we were recording. I've heard great singing (That girl gets a sticker!) horrible singing (O.M.G. LMAO), and have done some of each myself. Nobody's perfect. I hope everyone likes it when it's finished, and that it sells a million Little Drummer Boys and Mater Ora's. Mostly, though, I hope you can hear and feel the love and sweetness that's gone into it.
I'm looking forward to Christmas in Richmond, but next year God, I'd really like to confine Christmas to December, okay? Thanks, Ana