Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Carol

Well now. Tonight has been interesting.

Where shall I begin? I'll start where I left off on my last post. The caroling group from my church, which consists strictly of youths (of course its traditional that young people go caroling house to house. If the adults caroled too, there would be no one left to listen), and I, had the honor of being the Conductor.

The conductor's job is easy. But then again, its difficult.

Today, or rather tonight, began our first of three excursions of Christmas Caroling. At Five-Fifteen p.m., carolers assemble at church. After a short warm up, and prayer for journey mercies, we shove off for our first destination. Another tradition in caroling is that we always visit the Old Folk's Homes first.
But I'm not going to bother about details pertaining where we sang and what we sang, the main reason because it wasn't my singing that I was concerned with, but everyone else's, i.e., I was conducting.

What is the first job on a Conductor's list? Well, he has a list of 22 carols in front of him. He chooses which one we'll sing at which house. Next, at the house concerned, the Conductor starts off the Guitarist by signaling him to begin the song. Then, the conductor counts down for the singers, and with a wave of his hands, "flags" them off, as it were. He also mouths the words to keep everyone in time, and smiles all times to remind everyone else to do the same, and he has to make sure the tenors don't drown out the sopranos, which is done, of course, by waving his hands.

In short, the conductor gets the song started, then waves his arms a lot until the song ends.

The smiling part is a bit of a bother, because the carolers' group is facing the audience, and I of course am facing the carolers, which means I have my back to the most part of the audience. But I have to make sure the carolers smile at the audience, which is the important thing, and the accepted signal is to smile at them and hope they take the hint. Unfortunately sometimes they don't. Its vaguely distressing when the shy soprano singer in the very front row just won't crack a smile no matter how much you smile at her.

So, as I mentioned, we began caroling at five-fifteen, and we ended all but one hour ago. We ended at twelve-twenty. It is now one-o-clock in the morning. And fifteen minutes. I'm too drowsy to do the math, but just you calculate how much time I spent waving my arms around tonight. My right shoulder wouldn't have been able to take much more of it.

Of course, the way I explain conducting, it sounds easy. But that's because I'm not good at explaining much. What have I left out in my explanation that reflects the true labor involved in conducting? Perhaps its the way no one picks up your frantic gestures to speed up/slow down/sing louder/sing softer. Or perhaps its the way you have to widely extravagate your actions to make sure everyone sees it, even those rapscallions at the back who aren't focusing on the song, oh yes, they matter too. Then again, perhaps its the way the responsibility of making sure everything goes smoothly, oh yes, that responsibility is almost completely on your shoulders.

Now I think I've made it sound a lot worse than it is. The main thing is that Conducting is physically taxing. Anyway, it's one-o-clock in the morning, and I'm bushed out of my mind, and no one had better wake me up before ten.


Yeah, just you try waving your right hand in the air for even an hour, see what I mean. Don't talk to me about typos tonight.

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