Monday, August 30, 2010

Singing in a Choir

I sing in a woman’s choir. Every other Monday night I ride my bike down to the community centre to join about 35 other women who also love to sing. There is no auditioning for this choir. The only pre-requisite to membership is a desire to sing, an ability to (at least) try to stay on key and enough adventure in musical skill to harmonize with the rest of the group. I learn a lot about music by being a member of the choir.

I listen carefully to the other people surrounding me so I fit myself in harmonically. That takes careful listening skills. It’s about listening with an open heart. No judgement. I just want to fill in where everybody is.

In June we had our end of the year performance. Our choir had 7 selections that our choir leader, Gillian had chosen. It was the first time we had two nights of performance instead of one. And both nights were completely sold out!

My husband, Paul, loves to come to see me perform in the choir. He says I beam up there on the stage. I’m not sure what he means by that! He says it looks like I’m having such a good time. I do have such a good time. And I feel glowing and energetic with the other women on stage. It reminds me a little of Canada geese. Their flying formation suggests the perfect support system. They fly in a V formation and rotate leadership simply by sharing the responsibilities of the front flyers.

Singing is like that too. I maintain my pace based on the energy and skill of my co singers. We have an amazing group of singers!

This year I reflected on the performance process. I was thinking about my connection to the audience, and, before the second night of performance I asked Gillian

“Should I be looking at the audience to connect with them? Or should I be reading my music, neatly piled in my black binder? Or should I be watching you?”

“All of them,” she replied,” If you want to maximize performance possibilities.”

I got it, I thought. It is just like learning! The best learning happens when we are able to help our students connect 1) to themselves, 2) to their immediate world, and 3) to the content we share with them.

Welcome back to school 2010-2011

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sharing Space in Nature

Our outside living situation on Gabriola happens only during the summer. Paul and I decided that we would hold off building a house, because, quite honestly, if we built a house, we would probably live in it. And we really like living outside!

So we have a beautiful tent and we put a firm foamy mattress inside. We cover the mattress with clean sheets and warm blankets. And we’re happy each night looking out of the top of the tent, becoming familiar with the star formation that design in the sky above our bed. The moon becomes memorable as the season progresses and her position swings further and further west as the summer continues.

I usually sleep well in our tent. And if I’m not sleeping well, I still appreciate being awake and aware of the outside. Last night there was a mouse in our kitchen and I could hear the little critter gnawing away at the paper towel that I inadvertently left out on the counter top. Every few minutes there would be a scurrying of mouse feet running past our tent. The straight pathway from kitchen to woods was repeated several times. It sounded as if there was a shuttle party running back and forth. I could almost hear the shrieks of joy from the mice as they carried the bits of treasure from source to home. I Think I lay awake for a long time, a gentle smile on my face, listening to the action.

I was thinking about what it would be like for me if this were in my kitchen in Toronto. A mouse in my kitchen would completely freak me out. I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I would be investigating the nearest and greatest rodent removal company. There is no way I would be able to withstand the idea of mice running around my house and infiltrating my kitchen.

I realized how, here, I gratefully share the environment with the mice.It is, after all, their space too. I have no fear. I experience no sense of disgust. I simply enjoy listening to the commotion and welcoming the presence in our home. I feel a true sense of co habitation and I love the idea of being a part of this natural world! And I am humbled.