Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Artistic Hands


I suck at conducting.

And yet...I love it, in so many ways! Ever since I was little; a tiny 7-year-old singing in children's choir, I've been fascinated by those hands, ever moving, ever directing, and yet always sending messages through a ridiculously beautiful method. At first, it was just normal, something you saw and accepted when you stood in choir, but then, it became intriguing. We were told to 'burn a hole' in our director's forehead with our eyes, and as I did, and saw her smiling face, always in front of me were these motions, these movements that kept me singing the right thing, and that comforted me.

When I was 11 I was in school band. I didn't go to the school, but I was a part of that single class, and volleyball. That was enough school for me! In any case, I remember just falling in love with our beautiful band teacher, Miss Wray. She was everything I wanted to be, pretty, smart, musical, nice...and best of all, her hands when she conducted. I still remember them. When I think back on it, I remember desperately trying to learn the music well enough that I could look up as much as possible, burning a hole in her face, and watching her hands, in that impressionistic art of conducting. I distinctly remember sticking a scewer in a cork to imitate Miss Wray's baton, conducting invisible orchestras, and immaturely attempting to add the nuances of signaling dynamics and ques to my unseen band. I still have that stick somewhere...

And now, in my choir, and as I go to concerts, or sing Beethoven's 9th with an orchestra and can watch the artistic director as he leads an orchestra and choir, this massive entity of so many parts, I watch. I stand in my choir and watch Rosemary, and though I see the beauty, I rely on it so much, and when that director is not there, the sounds become dissonant, and the togetherness disappears. I catch myself staring intently at, not the choirs, but the hands of the directors, and at a recent choral festival, seeing the many different styles each conductor has.

Though I remember watching all this beauty since I was little, it was only in May, while I was watching Rosemary direct her other choir at a concert I was helping with, that I first saw it as art. When I was not behind the baton, so-to-speak, watching from on stage, and could see that movement in all it's glory without looking to it for my own direction, that I saw that incredible revelation. It is art. Not just that is it difficult, or takes a lot to learn, but that it is a gorgeous artistic form. Stunned as I was by this, I dumbfoundedly tried to tell her this, but I still couldn't articulate it. I feel I am failing still, as I write this, to convey how immense this feeling was.

Last night at choir, as I watched this individual way of directing that she has, I suddenly realized, in a fit of sadness, that in January, that would be gone. Intently I stared at the hands, several times losing my place in this practically hypnotic exercise. It is beautiful. In January, I will stand facing a different set of hands. I've only watched as an onlooker, so it will be fascinating to see how I inately feel about Sharon's hands. What kind of art will they produce?

Also, I've found that sometime in the last six months I've picked up this crazy habit of conducting myself when I sing. I fear my right hand will always be better at it, as that is the hand that always carries out this idiosyncrasy. It is a beautiful feeling to have the metre under your arm, pulling the melody with it. I can only dream about the day--someday--when I will pull the melody from other voices, with my own artistic hands.

Sheila Christine

* (My computer crashed, so I can't get at my nice choir/conducting pics right now, therefore I have a pretty pic of leaves from my Mum's computer.)


Idzie said...

I love the way you write Sheila! Your passion for whatever you happen to be writing about always comes through brilliantly. :-)

beautifulgraceblog said...

Oddly enough, I can identify with your love of conducting! It's really something I would love to learn someday- and there is a crazily beautiful pattern in it- somedays I catch myself waving 4/4 time in the air for no reason at all.


Mariah said...

I agree with Idzie, I love how your passion comes through what you write. It's beautiful! :)

Sheila said...

You girls make me so happy. Thanks!!!