Welcome to Renate's Baton. This blog is mostly for and about my choir, The York Region Community Choir.

But, While I'm holding the baton, I'm in charge. So, if I want to talk about other parts of my life, I will. :)

The choir itself is a community and I'm discovering that we have a lot in common with one another besides our love of music and singing.

When I go off on a tangent, there is always a crowd coming along. Join us!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Contributing to Earth's Harmony: Earth Days and Choir Days

In an old post of mine, on June 12, 2013, I was inspired by this quote:

"When we pay attention to nature's music, we find that everything on Earth contributes to its harmony."

When I started reading this old post of mine, I thought that my focus would have been on the diversity of the choristers, their various contributions, and it was, mostly. But, an important thing that caught my eye today was this:

I hear the choir singing the song together and the result is more than pleasing: it is electrifying and satisfying because I contributed well.

Because I contributed well, I am electrified and satisfied. My attitude and my role are important. I often joke with my choir, that it's all about me. And, I guess if I'm writing about my experience and my point of view, it is. 

I do feel a huge responsibility, and I work hard for the choir, but my voice isn't heard in the songs. My contribution is not obvious, and it's not the thing that I think about in the moment, listening to the choir. It takes some reflection to consider it. And, when I really pay attention, I find that the biggest thing I contribute is not my teaching or conducting, but my love. My huge love for the choir inspires so much of my activity, my thoughts, my contributions.

There are so many lessons to be learned in a choir! This year, Earth Day is Friday, April 22, 2022. This week, we focus on the Earth, on the environment and climate and nature. I want to think again about our contribution to Earth's harmony, to nature's music. 

Each of us contributes to the beauty and harmony of the Earth, whether it's obvious or not, and whether we think about it or not. Earth Day is an opportunity to reflect on what we do and what we can do and what we need to do to keep the Earth beautiful. But, it's important to see the beauty and harmony in the first place. Keep thinking, keep believing, and keep singing: What a Wonderful World! We do this as individuals and collectively as the choir. 

Here's another gem from my blog post: 

They feel their own mistakes as huge distractions from the beauty of the song.

Don't focus on your shortcomings, the plastic things you still use, the recycling that you put in the garbage because you were tired, the light you left on. The gas your car guzzles and all those little things do contribute to the climate crisis, but you love the Earth. The strong voices carry the weak ones, and sometimes you are the strong voice. Love the Earth more and see its beauty. Love the Earth more and you will Invest in Our Planet (this year's Earth Day theme). Invest in Our Planet to protect and preserve it. Start with love and your actions will be powerful. Join with others and we become louder and even more powerful. 

Here's a snippet from earthday.org:

As individuals, we have the simple yet effective power to make our voices heard through our choices, our civic actions, and our personal interactions. What each of us does, and how we do it, has a huge ripple effect on our ecosystems, and on the pace of corporate and government action.


Back to me in 2013: 

In the choir, every kind of chorister adds her voice-the sweet, the crabby, the loud, the quiet, perfect pitch and perfect timing and the opposite too- but the whole is not the sum of the parts. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. And, the song is different depending on the perspective of the one who's listening.

What I hear when we perform a song that we've learned is harmony and love. I have put my love into it and it comes back to me multiplied. I don't hear the disappointment of the perfectionist who didn't get every single part right. I don't hear the missing voice when someone chooses not to sing. I don't hear the discord of a sour relationship between 2 sopranos. I hear that I have taught them well, and the strong are carrying the weak. I hear the choir singing the song together and the result is more than pleasing: it is electrifying and satisfying because I contributed well.

I love all the songs. I love the sweet ones and the grand ones, the jazzy ones and the funny ones. The easy ones are great and the difficult ones are great. I love the choristers too.

My choristers don't always understand that a performance went well. They don't have my perspective. They are in the middle of the choir, hearing the wrong notes and wondering about the singers who don't make a sound. They feel their own mistakes as huge distractions from the beauty of the song. I tell them not to worry, to try to relax and have fun. If they're doing their best, then it will turn out fine. Where they are weak, others will be strong. When they listen to a recording of the choir, they are surprised at how wonderful it is.

I see a life lesson in this choir experience.

I'm looking at some of my old blog posts. I want to start saving and organizing my writing, my blog posts and bits and pieces that I have here and there. This post from June 2013 is a keeper. 

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