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GUEST BLOG: “Who are Your Feet?” by Lucy Hudson Stembridge

WHO ARE YOUR FEET? by Lucy Hudson Stembridge
 
       We've all heard of the statue of gold, who had the feet of clay. It's supposed to be a heroic figure that we admire, perhaps emulate, but are disappointed in, after finding a serious flaw. No, I'm not about to chastise us for flaws! Almost the opposite...
       Elementary teachers may think, "Middle and high school teachers get those glowing moments - concert applause, contest ratings - but where would they be without the basics we taught?"
       College and community levels feed each other similarly. We are all part or the choral web - not just electronically, but as we teach each other's students and influence each other's communities. And certainly, let's not forget the private-lesson teachers that straightened out our misunderstandings, guided as we built our skills, and gave us inspiring words and stories.
       Little muscle issues, of late, have made me realize how essential strong feet are. When they act up, it can be tricky to move forward with confidence. Who are the people who, early in your career, gave you the confidence to move forward? Patient piano or voice teachers? Teachers and professors who, while you enjoyed a "glory job", happily and patiently worked with your children's and youth choir, despite behavior issues and difficult parents?
       Most of us have found ourselves at all the stages of the Music-Vocal-Choral Body-Web: the amazing network of small and large singer-muscles that, without each other, could not function. If we ponder and remember, we understand how each can feel.
       If your students arrived with low skills in vocal technique or sight-singing, you may have been frustrated with your "feet of clay". That is not always caused by laziness. Perhaps there are nearly-insurmountable difficulties. Try to investigate, and see that your support has supporting feet. Try to be strong feet to those groups that your singers eventually join.
       If your singers arrive excellently-prepared, you can soar to new artistry. As you plan your next concert, speak in appreciation of your "feet" and how they undergird your program. Reward their group with a chance to sing at one of your events, possibly joining in on one number. Do a community project together. Join in on a session with a specialist. Not only is this an excellent recruitment tool, it teaches everyone involved. It strengthens and connects our communities and our world!
       And, who can walk without choral feet ?
on March 4, 2014 6:34am
Excellent article, Lucy!  This is something I think about ALL THE TIME....we ARE a community that builds, one person at a time.  Some of us have students who are well trained, or well experienced in their talents and abilities,
others of us are perhaps opening hearts and minds to musical experiences  that this particular soul has never experienced.  We NEVER KNOW how we touch and help and foster each other's future.  
Thanks for speaking on a bottom-line level....We NEVER stop learning.  
Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 4, 2014 8:27am
A wonderful post on how choral teachers and conductors are all connected as singers develop and bloom.
on March 4, 2014 8:54am
Love this, Lucy!  As one who conducts an adult community group now.....with singers who have 'stepped out' to have children or TEACH children.....I am forever grateful to those worked with my folks before me.  It's a building process....never ending and never knowing where our singers will eventually end.