December 2, 2008 at 3:56 PM
The Christmas season is really busy for everyone. That is a given....it's almost become a cultural norm that December is about people rushing about, shopping, decorating, cooking, baking, entertaining, attending 'events' , mailing cards and packages, etc. (All on top of the usual job/family commitments, or course).
So, it's established that Christmas is a busy season for everyone. Performing musicians have an additional layer of busyness to add to the norm, with rehearsals, gigs and concerts. Teaching musicians have another layer still..... conducting orchestra concerts/rehearsals, organizing Christmas recitals and providing students for the many requests for special music. Finally, church musicians have a further layer of commitment on top of all else. Tis the season to go nuts. I'll bet that not many of you have even one free weekend on your calendars between now and 2009.
I read in Mendy's blog of her schedule for this week of performances and rehearsals. Probably many of us have something similar. And, we love it this way. How cheated would most of us feel if we didn't get to play Messiah, or Nutcracker or another type of great Christmas concert? After all, Beethoven can be done any time of year, but the Christmas stuff must be done NOW...or wait 12 months. I plan my Christmas concerts well in advance, and with excitement. We love it this way.... Christmas is in a large part, wrapped up in the music for us. And even more so, perhaps, for those of us who are church musicians.
I am the worship director for my church, which means that I write all the elements of the worship services (except the sermon). We are now in Advent. My thoughts, of course go to music in the services, and more specifically to the Christmas Eve candlelight music service. I play in the local symphony, and we are doing a concert in the mall next weekend.I have a youth orchestra, and we are doing a large combined concert at the University in 10 days, with several combined rehearsals ahead of us. We'll be featured alone, as well as accompanying a large combined choir for a few pieces, including two choruses from Messiah. I am coaching a string quartet of my students who are preparing music for the lobby of the university, and finding music for my daughter who is playing a luncheon gig for the retired teachers. I'm putting on a Christmas recital for my private students. This is what we do....
This year has been very tough. My mom died in July after a long illness which required that I travel to CA (no easy way to get there from here!) 5 times last year. I am recovering from stress and deciding to pace myself a bit. One element of that was a decision I made in early Nov. to begin Christmas shopping. This year, however, was very different than others. Armed with a credit card, my family's wish lists and a computer, I shopped on-line. (A real bonus when living in as small an area as this, where if they don't have it at Penney's or Wal-Mart, you aren't going to get it!). I made lists, checked them twice.... Macys.com, Kohls.com, Amazon.com, Sharmusic.com, Kabelas.com, Target.com, AmericanEagle.com, Forever21.com.... One or two stops at WalMart for a couple of Light-Sabers, and acrylic paints.... It was awesome and a lot of fun.
And, I am done...... gifts are here and wrapped, and I am finished! No mean feat for a serious procrastinator who hates shopping. I have 4 children (3 married), and 6 2/3 grandkids, so a large list. This has never, in the history of all of this woman-kind, even come close to happening. Which has now sparked a question in my mind. Might it be that I'll be more free to enjoy all the rehearsals/concerts/gigs/services (and the preparation) if I have certain other obligations already met?
So, for me, this is definitely an experiment. I want to take some time this week and complete all the church planning as well, then will sit back and see. I wonder if being less stressed will allow me to feel more joy in doing the things I love? Will it help me to relax and savor, rather than stuffing them into an overfull schedule? What happens if I use this week to finish everything that can be easily done in advance? Will the doing then, feed me more?
I hope so. I'm a little battle-weary this year. I need to soak it in, and remember again that this, music, is a soul language for me. May it minister to my heart. May it speak to yours...
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