Sunday, February 18, 2007

Race Card

The church in which I work houses two congregations-- one is Christ Lutheran, the other Zion Evangelical Fellowship. The latter is an Ethopian congregation, so they all have dark skin. Yes, it's critical to the story.

I love this congregation, well, both congregations, but I've worked with them (Zion) a little and have had a blast. I know quite a few people in the congregation and most of them know me as the white guy that has helped the choir.

Tonight, I was in the office when a bunch of kids from Zion come in to use the pencil sharpener. The eldest is 12ish, then the next oldest is about 6. I mentioned that I knew who they were and one kid 4-5ish pipes up, "You don't know us, you're WHITE!"

I said, "What does the color of my skin have to do with knowing you?"

"Because we're not WHITE!" he replied.

Oh, I wanted to take him home. I just grabbed him, hugged his shoulders tight and swung his legs back and forth as I lifted him up. This was definitely the highlight of my week.

I've never been accused of being white before, been told that many times, but usually it's like, "you know you're white, right?" I loved it. I was the only white person on that floor, surrounded by black kids and hadn't even paid attention until I was told that.
So, race MUST be an issue to these 5-year-olds, but why?

The world may never know.

Monday, February 12, 2007

This past weekend

What a great, long weekend! This weekend was of normal length, 2 days, but it lasted forever.

Starting Friday, I worked at my credit union job until 6:30 PM, then hustled (that is, danced) to a choir "dress" rehearsal. I had forgotten my music and stick, so I stopped at home first. Meanwhile, the Administrator of my degree program was frantically calling me to give me directions to pick someone up... more on that later.

So, I'm at this dress rehearsal, singing and soon will conduct, and it's not going well. Oy! It's my chance to conduct. Here's the background: I haven't conducted in front of instruments (other than keyboard) since 1999, I just learned what a baton was this fall, and it's the first and only rehearsal with the instruments before we perform. Everything is different with instruments than it is with piano filling in for the instruments. There are weird leaps that are easy on a piano, but awkward on a violin, etc. I, as the conductor, should have known that. I, as me, did not.

My section of the rehearsal went OK. The men sounded good and the instrumentalists were great, but I was off. Afterward, I go into the bathroom and there's a guy in there who just finished his business transaction who started to tell me how to do my job. Now this guy is not one of the better musicians in the group, so I'm guessing he has not had any formal training, nor much informal training. I think he just mustered the courage within the last couple of years to join a choir.

Grr. Why do people have to get in other people's way? Aren't we supposed to help other people? I know that his comments don't sound like much, but it came after 5 weeks of listening to him do this at every rehearsal to me and the regular conductor.

That vent was longer than it needed to be, sorry. The concerts went well, though. I'll only talk about things that I had any control over... My men's piece: Saturday, the 3:30 concert went better than it had ever gone. The 7:30 concert went even better. So, for Sunday, I had to pep talk them into it. I needed more bass to give it a fuller sound, so I "taught" them my cue for that: arm parallel to the floor, pointed at them, hand clenched in a fist. As I was teaching them this, I was thinking that I needed something funny to say. So I told them that it means "strong like bull." (Thank you Jason and Mike!). They laughed so hard, so I kept saying it in context about other things. Soon it was their mantra, since I finished just before we went on stage.

They rocked.