Performing in Church

Tomas and DC were asked to perform yesterday for our local congregation’s Christmas program. Well, I suppose it would read better if I wrote “Tomas and DC were volunteered by me to perform,” because I sort of readily threw them under the bus. It’s just they’d done such a good job last time, I thought it would be great for them to have another shot, especially with more months of lessons under their belt. The piece this time was “The First Noel.” The arrangement in our hymnbook turned out to be too tricky in some spots for DC, and I needed to have them do something to spice up the second verse, so I once again dipped my toe into arranging the music myself.

(Side note: the tool I used this time was Muse Score, and I was really impressed with how easy it was to use and compose in it. I have pretty much no composition background. I don’t really get chords at all. I just listen to music, and I can tell when I like something. That’s about it. Muse Score let me listen to the music as I arranged it, and that was a life saver. Then it let me print out specific parts, and tweak as needed. All for free. It was wonderful.)

I didn’t arrange anything too flashy. The basic idea was have the violin play the melody and the cello the bass part, and then for the second verse flip those around, with the violin playing backup to the cello. The trick was that some of the bass part was too much for both Tomas and DC, at least to handle with the short practice time we had left. So I basically asked them what notes and transitions they could comfortably handle, and then I made changes as needed.

However, I felt kind of guilty as I printed off the music and had them play it for the first time. Yes, I was doing some work, but I was making them do something they might not really want to do. So then I decided I might play with them. I still have my tenor sax, but something told me a violin, cello, and tenor saxophone trio . . . might not exactly be a perfect pairing. On the other hand, I also still have the recorder I got in 2nd grade, and the fingers on the recorder are pretty close to the fingerings on a saxophone. And a recorder has a nice renaissance-y flair when it’s paired with the stringed instruments.

So I added a part and made it a trio. We practiced it through a few times, and it ended up going quite well. (Once I realized I had been consistently using the wrong fingering for a note I kept thinking DC was playing sharp. I was playing it flat. Whoops.) The last time I’d performed on the recorder in public was probably my second grade(?) concert in elementary school. A shout out to Mr. Potter, my music teacher back then. He did a wonderful job getting kids excited about music. (Well, at least he did a wonderful job with me. I suppose I can’t vouch for the rest of the kids. I was in second grade . . .)

Anyway, it was fun to perform again, and I’m glad I’ve got kids who are game for it. Maybe we’ll do it again sometime. Merry Christmas, everyone!


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