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Speaking of Voice: “Inspired Connections” by Mary Lynn Doherty

INSPIRED CONNECTIONS by Mary Lynn Doherty
 
       When was the last time you were truly moved by a musical experience?  This past week, I had the distinct honor of hosting Nick Page for a three day residency with my college students and children’s choir.   Nick is one of those rare individuals who are extremely talented but totally accessible at the same time.  He uses music and humor to cultivate joy and harmony in people.  The culminating event of the residency was a Community Sing where, for an hour and a half, people of different ages, backgrounds and experience levels sang together.  Everyone was asked to make a real connection to each other, through music.   The ensemble feeling that was created made the experience mean so much.
       As I reflect on the residency, I am thinking about my most meaningful choral experiences and they have all involved conductors who cultivated close relationships within the ensemble.   In terms of singing, these ensembles were also the most satisfying.  When our singers feel most comfortable, they probably sing more naturally and freely. There are so many phenomenal musical experiences to be had, but it cannot just be about the repertoire.  While I would like to think my singers remain my priority at all times, I know that sometimes the music takes over.  We never have one without the other, but fostering connections with and among my singers at every rehearsal should be the first priority.
       I read the following last year and it has stuck with me – this was written by a student at Macalaster College:
Music reminds us that in the end, our pursuits to be active, helpful members of society are about people. In our classrooms, we discover wonderful strategies for improving the world, but they will get us nowhere without compassion.   ~Andrea Wilhelmi