Stepping up

I haven’t updated the blog in a long time – not since way back on January 8. It is now the middle of March, and I think I can officially say I’m in my travel season. Last week, I was in Lexington, KY, Hopkinsville, KY, and Nashville, TN; and this week, I’m making what has become my annual trek to Austin for South by Southwest (or “South by” for those in the know).1 I have what seems like an endless amount of Stuff to Accomplish before heading to the airport tomorrow night, which fully explains why I’m choosing RIGHT NOW to blog.2 

In the I-really-did-finish-my-degree news, I received the actual degree in the mail. I’ve signed many an email as “Dr.” or the preferred “, PhD” after my name, not to mention I’ve judged a few pre-college piano events, and have had many opportunities to practice the official signature.

But for the past month of Sundays, I have really, really, really wanted to post a post-Sunday post. Why, you ask? Well, because the week when a bird was flying around inside the building during services seemed like a pretty good story. Or the week the lights went out in the middle of a service. And then there was the week that I had a stereotypically crazy morning, and stumbled up the stairs, kicked the wall, and made loud noises during the sermon. But really, it was the week that our drummer nearly fainted on stage, walked off the stage at the exact moment the timer read 0:00 in the second service, and the band did a whole set without drums… that was the one that I thought belonged on the blog.3 

But then there was the third service hour that day. Drummer was still unable to play by the beginning of this service. We have only one room for this service, so OBVIOUSLY Sanctuary Worship Leader asked Worship Pastor (um, right before the service began) if he could play the drums. And of course, Worship Pastor posed the question to the third-service attendees from the stage as the service was starting, and the attendees were enthusiastically all for it. Thus, Sanctuary Worship Leader sat down and played the drums for the set in that service. Though I’ll admit I was a lot a bit nervous for him (and the rest of the band, for that matter), he stepped up and did a fantastic job.

It all worked out and certainly made for a very memorable Sunday, but I’d prefer to keep everyone healthy on stage going forward.

 


1. I have written about my first trip here and here. Unfortunately, last year, I was a complete slacker too busy writing the dissertation to do a full-blown post-South by post. Maybe this year…


2. Not that I need any excuse to procrastinate, but I have written most of this post whilst waiting for items to upload, update, etc. My computer likes to be nice and slow in its relative old age (aka 2009). One day, when I have a bunch of free time, I plan to do something about that. One day.


3. Eh… after I stopped panicking, and yelling at no one in particular over the headset about what was going on. I *did* go check on Drummer. He wasn’t dying, but he definitely wasn’t great.

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Back at it

Uh, remind how all this stuff works again?

Uh, remind how all this stuff works again?

For the past twelve weeks at my church, we’ve had ONLY two services on Sunday mornings – one at 9:00 and one at 10:15. This is, of course, a switch from our “full” schedule of five services on Sunday morning – two at 9:00, two at 10:15, and one at 11:30.

Before we get back to that schedule, we have a couple of weeks of four services – two at both hours – beginning today, which means that for the first Sunday in twelve weeks, my morning involved a lot of Running Around. Not only were we in two rooms, but we also baptized a bunch of folks. I’m pretty sure every ten-fifteen minutes or so, I remembered some detail or item that needed attention (this actually began around 6:30 a.m. when I was brushing my teeth). Except a few things that didn’t go as well as they could have, considering this was our first time in three months to sync rooms, it was a pretty good day.

But the funniest part of the morning had nothing to do with having two rooms.

At the end of the first service, the band(s in both rooms) came back on stage to do a closing song. As we were wrapping up the video feed on the headset, I looked up and noticed we were missing Acoustic Guitar. Electric Guitar was playing ganjo/six-string banjo for this last song, and I saw Worship Pastor gesture to him to move over to acoustic; and he did. And because our team is awesome & Electric Guitar is a pro, the song was fine and went off without a hitch.

As it turns out, Acoustic Guitar had gotten waylaid by some visitors, and he was nice enough to show them where to go, and just didn’t quite make it back in time. However, in the few seconds that Electric Guitar was switching instruments, and capo-ing the acoustic guitar, he looked like he had never picked up a guitar before in his life.1  Since Senior Pastor was praying at this point, I’m guessing not many people saw that moment. I was even told that Acoustic Guitar started to come on stage, peaking through the curtain on the side of the stage, but then backed out. All in all, it was a pretty funny moment. And in the second service, all hands were on deck and in the right place for the closing song.

 


1. It also reminded me of the TV show from the late ’80s/early ’90s, Quantam Leap – when the guy appears in a new situation/time period and has to figure out who he is, where he is, and what’s going on. Random, I know, but it was kind of fitting.

And because the internet, here’s the opening of the show with a much more detailed explanation:

 

Guitar Slide Sunday and Other Things

Let’s agree that my absence here at the blog has to do with the massive amounts of work I’ve been doing on my dissertation. Whether that is true or not happens to be another story, but for now, let’s just agree on the “working on dissertation” premise.

Sunday, we did this song again, and the bass slides made me happy, as always, and our lead guitar player played WITH a slide on “How He Loves,” which was awesome. Also, Worship Pastor sang some oh’s (and/or whoa’s) in one of my favorite songs that we do (this link is to a “remixed” version of the song; the oh’s/whoa’s begin at 2:04).1 This was exciting as I’m quite a fan of nonsense syllables used judiciously in songs.

On Saturday night, I saw a solo Father John Misty (aka J. Tillman) show. He also is a fan of oh's, ooo's, and whoa's based upon his songwriting.

On Saturday night, I saw a solo Father John Misty (aka J. Tillman) show. He also is a fan of oh’s, ooo’s, and whoa’s based upon his songwriting.

In other news, I found a great excuse to buy new shoes. I have the privilege of representing my alma mater at the investiture of UGA’s 22nd president in a couple of weeks, so obviously I need new shoes to go with my regalia. Conveniently enough, an Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse opened nearby and had their grand opening this past weekend. I went, found some shoes that will suffice (I’m still looking for a better option), and signed up for a few drawings. As it turns out, I’M A WINNER. I received an email saying someone from a closet/organizing place would be in touch with me about a shoe closet makeover. I have no idea what this entails or how it will work, but for now, I’M A WINNER.2

Finally, college basketball is back, and the newest version of the Kentucky Wildcats looks to be special. Also, Georgia-Florida is upon us. Go Sports! I hope we win.

______

1. Also, I have a “no reading internet comments” policy in my life that I try very hard to follow, and I’m guessing you should too when it comes to that video, well, because the internet, and also because of this.
2. Can we also acknowledge the fact, that despite the comments thing mentioned in note 1 above, the internet is also a fount of knowledge: it showed me how to add footnotes to my posts! Hooray internet!

Play it again, again

It’s no surprise here that I like music. I like it a lot. I think it about it regularly. I am frequently overwhelmed by it. I listen to it often. I have also spent the majority of my life doing music in some way or another. Directly and indirectly, music is how I pay my bills and eat (and consume music. And buy shoes.). I also like to listen to the same song/piece over and over and over again, on repeat. This means that my iTunes (more often than not) has the “repeat one” option engaged. It’s quite convenient for my obsessive (compulsive?) listening habit.

I also use my iTunes (on my laptop) at the church each week – to play pre/post-service music and to record the sermon. Usually, I remember to disengage the “repeat” option when I begin the pre-service music on a Sunday morning. Usually.

This past Sunday, I forgot. I started the first song on the playlist, and proceeded with my Sunday morning tasks. At some point shortly thereafter, I left the room for quite a few minutes. I remember looking at the song (“God’s Great Dance Floor” by Chris Tomlin – OK song, terrible title) and thinking it was a long-ish song. However, I distinctly recall walking back in to the room, hearing the song, and thinking, “This really IS a long a song.”

As the first service was ending, I hit play on my iTunes, and began to fade in the post-service music (well, pre-service music for the second service). Approximately five seconds in to the song, I realized it was the same song. Again. It had played at least five times before the service! I quickly started a new song and changed the repeat option on my iTunes.

No less than four people on our team mentioned it to me between the services. Maybe next Sunday, I’ll remember to check the repeat option before I play the pre-service music. However,  I’m pretty sure I know one song that I’ll leave off the playlist for the next few weeks.

On the fly…

IMG_5439

My typical view on Sundays

Things have been a little more laid back this summer at the church. This mostly has to do with our schedule (three services instead of four, rehearsals only on Sunday mornings, etc.) and our team’s availability (or lack thereof: vacations, mission trips, camps, etc.). Our fall schedule kicks in three weeks from yesterday, and I know there are a few things that need some detailed attention.

However, even with detailed attention, stuff happens; things don’t go quite as planned; or things don’t turn out exactly as you envisioned, regardless of planning. I’d say this is especially true at church, and even more true in a church environment with live syncing and video. For example, yesterday morning, we ended up being short one worship leader. I called one of our team members at 8 a.m. asking her to come sing (I’ve mentioned the implications of a phone call from me on a Sunday morning)… and she kindly obliged, showing up not very many minutes later, and sounded great in both services.

At another point in the service, we had to change our camera shot to show a large group of people gathered at the front of the room. Thanks to some miscommunication, our camera operator was not at the camera at this point, so our Sanctuary Sound Guy had to run over to the camera to make the adjustment. That worked out great, but when Senior Pastor returned to his normal location on stage, his head was no longer in the shot, which cut off exactly at his shoulders. Thankfully, this was during a prayer time, so most people in the room weren’t looking at the screen. Unfortunately, this was during a prayer time, and when I looked at the screen, I laughed out loud.

So there are certainly some things we need to work on, fix, improve, and adjust in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, again, I apologize for disrupting your worship experience if you sit near the booth.

BOO!

It’s been a while since the last post-Sunday post (and even longer since a church-related post-Sunday post)! It’s not that there haven’t been blog-worthy stories from recent Sundays, it’s just that I have lacked the wherewithal and/or the time to post them. However, today’s post was just too much to pass over.

A bit of back story… despite what some folks might say, I am NOT a jumpy person. However, I am quite easily startled, and I’m pretty sure this has to do with the focus with which I do certain tasks (and the ability to block you and the rest of the world out in order to get something done). Thus, there are times when I’m a bit oblivious and am generally surprised to find another person nearby or standing right next to me. Only slightly related, but it seems worth mentioning here… Worship Pastor seems to take inordinate joy in surprising people, and has been known to hang out in office closets for many minutes in order to terrify scare someone (no really, true story). He has, on many occasions, scared or surprised me, either intentionally or unintentionally, as have many others…

In any event, yesterday, during the second service, I was diligently mixing at the sound board and watching our worship timers (we had a lot going on yesterday, but that would take a completely separate post to detail), and I had just looked up to check out our band on stage (cf. previously mentioned focus). Unbeknownst to me, College Pastor entered the booth and positioned his face near my shoulder. When I inadvertently looked around, I was staring directly at him. To say this startled me would be an understatement; further, in response, I screamed – like someone-was-trying-to-attack-me screamed or I-just-palmed-a-hot-iron screamed.

If the screaming was a reflex (and it most certainly was), the immediate move to duck behind the sound board was somewhere in between a wise decision and a reflex. Simultaneously, College Pastor, apparently quite amused with himself, fell onto the ground in hysterical laughter. This was convenient for both of us, as there was no one to see, had anyone turned around to find out what all the racket had been.

Two related items of import:
1. We were in the middle of a song with the entire band playing, so I have no idea exactly how many folks heard the scream.
2. When I recounted this story over the headset to the other folks in the booth, High School Computer Gal (who was upstairs in the booth) said something to the effect of “I’m pretty sure I heard that… I just thought someone was really getting into the song…” I think I’m gonna go with that explanation should anyone ask about it.

I’m strongly considering getting Helper Elf to stand guard at the booth door for security purposes going forward…

Post & Pre-Texas

It’s kind of strange to be visiting a (non-Chicago) place twice in one month, but that’s what’s happening. It’s also strange that I wasn’t at church on Sunday (last year, I missed five Sundays), but I was told that all was well–not surprising since our team is pretty much awesome.

Last week, I went to Austin, Texas for a conference at the University of Texas, and next week, I’m heading to Austin for South by Southwest. Back when I was considering grad school for a piano degree, I applied at UT and reallyreallyreally liked Austin. So much so that I was convinced that I would end up there for a DMA in piano after my Masters (once the money didn’t work out for a UT Masters).

But things change. And Athens, Georgia won me over. And teaching piano lessons full-time did not. So my second visit to Austin, Texas (this time as a musicologist), I was appropriately impressed with the city, but not completely swept off my feet. Granted, I didn’t see a TON of the city, but I did get to go to Veggie Heaven, and I got to see Bertha (a very large bass drum made for the University of Chicago and later purchased for $1 for the Longhorn Band). It’s a lovely, hip city, and I’m sure I’ll have a better feel for it after next week.

The conference was great. I presented, and got some good feedback and ideas for my research. I also got to see a few conference friends, not to mention fun times traveling with two great musicology ladies. Plus, we got to visit with a formerly-of-Athens piano friend who is now in Austin (who is also providing lodging for my Austin 2 trip)! Piano Friend also directed us to a great Thai food truck (there are lots of food trucks in Austin), and an amazing Indian restaurant.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any official tours, but here are a few photos from my trip.