Friday, February 18, 2011

My Most Creative Experience

I have always loved harmony. I think it is a key portion of a song, adding this sort of uniqueness to it.  What one person hears, another may not because some people have wider ears than others.  For one, it depends on what part of the song you hear first when it comes on.

For me, the first thing I hear in a song is the bass line. While it is at the bottom of a song, for some reason it stands out.  Music is like an easy Sunday morning for me: peacefully beautiful. Singing is my escape from the ever changing world.

A few years back, I started working with a group of kids.  I become the youth choir director for a huge church in Harlem, NY. We would meet on Saturdays to learn songs and every second and fourth Sunday, they would sing songs of praise at the church's worship service.  

I started to notice some interesting things about the young people.  The kids started to get annoyed with the song selections I was choosing and would protest them every single week saying, "Ms. Stephanie, I don't like that song." Also, the sanctuary was a very wide space and their young voices were getting strong but not at the strength that they were one day destined to be yet.  So to help them to sing stronger, I needed to find a method to build them up and songs that they would accept.

I consulted books. I found a few that were helpful with different fun exercises that I could bring to rehearsal with me.  I started to meditate to try to reach my creative center. I got advice from my peers on how to strengthen voices and they gave me concrete information that proved to work. But the attention span of young kids varies depending on the age, so I had to be able to appeal to kids from the ages of five to 14 and it wasn't an easy thing; especially on the days when they would send me home crying trying to figure out how to go about things differently.

Then one day while trekking home, I decided that I had to take matters into my own hands and did two things.  I put together a program called "Vocal Boot Camp."  Vocal Boot Camp consisted of 30 minutes of intense vocal training for expanding and strengthening vocals.  Because the choir consisted of Sopranos, Altos, and tenors, I was forced to create a thirty minute boot camp CD exclusively for sopranos, a thirty minute boot camp CD exclusively for altos, and a thirty minute boot camp CD exclusively for tenors.  I distributed one to each of the youth with hope that they would take it home and do the exercises.

Second, I made a commitment with myself that for Christmas, I had to put together a CD of Christian music written and produced by me that might appeal to them for the purpose of teaching them to sing something they might like. I worked day and night sometimes not sleeping at all to meet my deadline.  By Christmas day, I was able to complete a fourteen track CD entitled, "I Believe" featuring 10 full length songs, a short intro, two interludes, and a short outro.  I wrote every song,  played all the instruments except for the song "I Know" which featured live bass by Ozzie Jones Jr of Organic the Band. The following link is a sample of "Worthy", one of the songs on the album http://melodiaz.0catch.com/IfGodiswilling/I%20Believe/WorthySnippetMix.wav

On Christmas day, as a present I gave it to them. They took it home and then surprised me when some of the youth came back and asked me if they could lead some of the selections featured on the CD. I never felt more accomplished in my entire life; especially for being able to meet my milestone.  Working with those kids made me believe in myself.

Next thing I knew, they were singing songs at a level that hit me hard.  While their voices were already beautiful, they honed it to be even more.  And then all of a sudden, one of the youth came to me and asked me to make them a new updated CDs of both the vocal boot camp and of my originals.  One of the youth blessed me even more and asked me to write songs for her, which I did and produced a song for her.

Many times, I try to accomplish things and get discouraged thinking that I am wasting my time. But suddenly, confidence started to build up in me like it never had before.  You never know the things that will come into your life and help to make a difference.  For me, my greatest accomplishment was working with the youth. They helped me in so many ways to find myself and to be more openly accepting of who I really am.

Hey, if you are interested in building up your vocals, why not try my boot camp. Currently, I only have the alto vocal boot camp available.  Check out http://www.etsy.com/listing/19707143/alto-30-minute-vocal-boot-camp for more information.

2 comments:

  1. Love this story! Thank you for sharing, too--lovely! What prompted you to keep trying until something clicked?

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  2. I had to show those kids that I was a compotent person in order to prove to myself that I truly can do all things. And it worked.

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