In Tune | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Monday, June 14, 2010

In Tune

I have several vocal students who have trouble singing in tune.

Sometimes I have trouble being in tune with the Holy Ghost.

You can't sing in tune unless you're listening.

And you can't be in tune spiritually unless you're listening.

First there's John*.  He just started taking lessons from me this summer.  He is very eager to learn, but has no experience.  Intonation does not come naturally to many people, but it is in there, somewhere.  John is learning to stop and listen before he opens his mouth to sing.  It slows him down, but when he really listens he has no trouble at all with intonation.  With practice, he'll be able to do it without such concentration, and it will come quite naturally to him.

Am I taking the time to stop and listen to the Spirit?  Am I out of practice because I am so eager to go forth and live that I have forgotten how to listen?

Then there's Steve.  He is also a newer student who doesn't listen well, often singing painfully out of tune.  It's not because he doesn't know to listen, though.  It's because he thinks he doesn't need to listen.  He is very sure of himself, and he thinks he knows where the music is going, where his voice needs to go, and just how to get there without help.  Whenever I can actually get him to stop and listen to the piano, he can sing in tune, but usually his ego gets in the way.

Is my ego getting in the way of hearing the Spirit?  Am I too arrogant to notice that there is actually something I should be listening to, or do I just go about my life thinking I already know what the Lord needs of me?

Diana is another very eager student.  She gets so preoccupied with various other aspects of singing that she often goes out of tune because she simply forgets to listen.  If I remind her to listen to the accompaniment she sings in tune well, but then other things go out the window.  It's hard to focus on so much at one time.

Am I crowding the Spirit out of my life with other things?  Things that may be good, but perhaps aren't quite as important as remembering to listen?

I've been teaching Ben for a while.  He is older, and is beginning to lose his ability to hear, so this affects his intonation greatly.  Because if he can't hear, then how can he listen?  He recently got a hearing aid, and it has been fascinating to see how it helps him most of the time, but often needs small adjustments here and there to get the perfect "mix" for listening to the piano. 

There are plenty of "hearing aids" when it comes to the Holy Ghost.  Am I turning them on?  Am I reading my scriptures daily, praying often, and attending church?  On the days when I am having trouble being in tune, do I look to those aids for help?

Kelly is not my student, but she sits next to me in opera chorus rehearsals and we sing the same part.  She wouldn't be there if she couldn't sing in tune, but she has a lot of trouble on one passage in particular.  It is a very difficult passage, and we all had trouble in the beginning, but the rest of us know it well now. And yet Kelly keeps singing the wrong notes.  If she would only listen to us while she sang, she would be able to learn it more quickly.

Sometimes the people around me are more in tune than I am.  Am I opening up my heart and listening to what they have to say?  When my husband receives insight for our family, do I listen to him, or do I insist on stumbling along by myself to accomplish our goals?

Even the best of musicians sometimes have intonation problems, and it's only because they aren't listening for one reason or another.

When I'm not in tune spiritually, it's simply because I'm not listening.

Listen.

Listen.

*Names changed, of course!

19 comments :

  1. If you ever heard me sing you would DIE! I am not in tune. Great analogy though!

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  2. Beautiful analogy. It actually makes me want to take voice lessons. If an old man with hearing aids can, so can I! I think it's marvelous that you find perspective on spiritual matters in your work.

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  3. My whole problem is I here load and clear just do not like what I am hearing sometimes!! I get so mad at myself when something happens and I heard it just did not listen and then I paid the price. Like check for your car keys...ignore it...then a few minute later find myself locked out of the van!

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  4. I usually find that the Holy Ghost has to whap me over the head with an anvil several times before I get it. Perhaps that's why have a headache right now!

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  5. Great post. There is always that one person in ward choir who blares and just doesn't listen to anyone around them.... But in some ways I blare on without listening either.

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  6. SUCH great analogies and insights into where we all might go wrong sometimes. Thanks for this.

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  7. Perfect. I have nothing to add except "beautifully expressed". Thanks for speaking my language!

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  8. That is one deep blog entry! :)

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  9. That was beautifully put, effectively taught. Really well done, Lara.

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  10. That was great I think I'll do this for FHE. thanks.

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  11. You're amazing. I love the comparisons. I wish you were here so I could take voice lessons from you. I have always wanted to learn how to sing better. I can carry a tune and that's about it. You coming back to Utah anytime soon?

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  12. I love the analogy. Thanks for the insightful post.

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  13. I love this post! You are so right!

    Will you teach me to sing better?

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  14. Cooler-than-cool post. I like the way you think.

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  15. Hmmm... great food for thought, both spritually AND as a voice teacher. Thanks!

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  16. Love this analogy. Excellent lesson many of us can use to improve ourselves. Very clever!

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  17. 1. It still amazes me that so many people think they sing in tune when they don't. At least admit it.

    2. The analogy to the Spirit brought tears to my eyes. I certainly could use some refreshers, even though I taught a lesson on the Holy Ghost in rs recently.

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