Oral History: Challenging yourself
Here's an edited section on Challenging Yourself
Neil: This culture is very isolating. So here was a way for me to take care of myself. Challenge myself. To learn new things. Music just engages your whole brain.
Kim: You know, practicing the songs, during the week listening and singing and just always walking around with a song in my head -- sometimes two or three -- trying to master something… I think, especially as adults, we kind of get into a rut and routines and having the challenge of learning something new all the time that brings such joy... It's not like I'm learning physics or something. It's learning something that I'll have for the rest of my life. I think they say music is the last thing to go in people's memories.
Monique: I grew up putting myself in classes that were harder than I could do. That's just how I've always learned. That's how you push yourself, by singing with people who are better than you and trying to imitate them.
Andy: I like the rigor of singing [harmony] parts. That to me is hard, hard, hard, hard. Go and sing these tenor parts for whatever the song is, whether it's a song I knew and liked, or never heard before. Go in there every Sunday and reading the music and trying to sing the part is so hard. And, for me anyway, it's great exercise so it makes me a much better singer.
Kim: I love those moments when, when somebody comes up with the courage and, you know, goes for it. One of my favorite moments was watching Julie join the band. She's up there playing her guitar and she's been in this group, but it was just like she had such a cool vibe -- I’m going, “Oh my God, you look amazing.”
Emily: I love gospel which is something that I came into within the last six years. It's just fun to sing. Yeah that's slide-y stuff is fun to sing and it is just complicated.
Julie: Often the alto part is challenging and kind of strange musically, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense until we're in the whole group. And that can make it harder to do.
Jean: I really enjoy working with the choir because it uses so many different skills that are, you know, it's hard to find an activity that brings all that stuff together.
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Jack Cheng directs the Clemente Course in Dorchester, excavates in the Middle East, and writes in Waban, MA.