A Blast of the Past #90: India, Part 1

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Today’s blast of the past is going to be more of a travelogue, with multiple photo plates, instead of one big photo plate.

I had the privilege of travelling to India for two weeks for work in 2007. My destination: Mumbai — the Bollywood of India, and its financial center. I traveled with an officer of my company as the associate/trainer to support him as we opened up a new satellite office there.

We met another officer/associate pair that was just completing 6 weeks there, All of were staying an a 5-star Mumbai Marriott Hotel. It had attached a “hot” nightspot called the Velvet Lounge, where we met with and “got down” with some of the office employees, who came out to greet me and my officer, and see the other officer/associate off.

Prior to the trip to India, I had spent 18 months training people sent from the India office in Kansas City, so I knew some of the people at the Velvet Lounge and met others. My first trainee, Jayraj, was the unit head for the Mumbai office. I hadn’t realize that, back in Kansas City, when i started training him, but his insight and higher level questions obviously showed he was thinking of more than just the day-to-day functions.

So my second day, on the weekend, was spent visiting Jayraj’s home and meeting his wife, Rujuta. They had a very lovely, almost simple elegant, apartment, and after visiting there over refreshments, we went and toured some of the city near their place, seeing some of the signs of the holiday of Diwali that was just upon us.

The day ended with a return to the hotel, where I was fascinated by the musical skill of the below artist playing on these cups/bowls:

Voice on Steroids

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Back at the beginning of the month both Betsy and I came down with the same cough on a Wednesday, which turned into a fever that Sunday, that took us to the doctor together on Monday, for a ‘something’ pack of antibiotics that we took 5 days but lasted 10 days in our system.

The effect was to knock out the infection, if any, over the next week, leaving me with a lingering cough. It also left me with much looser sinuses than I usually have. Also easier to breathe through the nose.

And eventually the lingering cough even disappeared.

But what was odd, was that the cold had very little effect on my singing voice. The cough was inconvenient in timing, but little effect.

But as as the cold cleared, the cough went away, the voice started shifting. Over the past 3 weeks I have been getting deeper, stronger, more projectible bass notes (though perhaps a little ragged around the edges of the tones). While the tenor range started breaking up into sections. middle and middle high notes started disappearing or getting raspy. I had no vocal pain, just lack of usual vocal acuity.

So as I was apparently getting better, the voice was going in the opposite direction. I could definitely hear and tell where the issues were. But no one, apart from Betsy seemed to notice. I even did a very BASS a capella number for special music in church that people seemed impressed with. Me, I felt all the bass power, but also all the upper fragility as I tried to key it LOW enough (an odd feeling for a first tenor).

So I finally got to the doctor on Tuesday afternoon to discuss it.  He could see nothing; the throat looked good. And he said you usually don’t feel pain when you have things like laryngitis. So we went on the presumption that I must have drainage or something that irritated, and that if we tried something to reduce the inflammation, then it should get better, and if it didn’t or if it got better and then got worse, we’d try something else.

So now I am on 16 days of a steroid: Prednisone. I take 4 10 MG tablets once a day for 3 days, then 3 tablets for 3 days, 2 tablets for 3 days, and 1 tablet for 3 days.

I took the first round of steroids late Tuesday afternoon — even though warned it might keep me awake that night.  It didn’t; I slept well.  But I could tell that evening at the Songflower Chorale rehearsal that the voice was already being affected. The upper range was starting to knit together, though still crackly.

Today it seems to be mending even better.  We will see how it goes between here and the choral anthem on Sunday.

I’m hoping this is a one-time thing. Not sure how I feel about using drugs this way for the voice.  I just know I’d feel worse not using them this way.

#180: Lord God, Our Thanks to THee We Raise

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(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)

1

Lord God, our thanks to Thee we raise

For those who built this house of praise,

Who long ago together stood

To form a Christian brotherhood.

2

Here have our children known Thy care

And raised their tho’ts to Thee in prayer;

Here have we shared the Wine, the Bread —

Here have our living souls been fed.

3

Still thru the years be Thou our guide,

Keep us from enmity and pride;

Still help us choose the better part —

A humble and a thankful heart.

4

Be this our common enterprise:

That truth be preach’d and pray’r arise,

That each may seek the other’s good

And live and love as Jesus would.

5

Create in us the word, the deed,

That ours may be a living creed;

And cause Thy grace in us to dwell —

Abide with us, Immanuel!

The disappearance of ‘alleluia’

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For someone like myself who grew up in a very non-liturgical Baptist church, some of the liturgical traditions seem a little crazy, or extreme. Yet the people in these traditions can sometime be very extreme in their observances and positions on them.

One such observance, a part of lent in many traditions, is not saying/singing the word “alleluia” during Lent.

The reasons for the observance have a legitimate philosophical and theological basis. As one website notes:

The point of the season is a kind of exile. While the event of the resurrection has occurred in history, the days of Lent serve as a reminder that we do not yet experience the kingdom in its fullness. We live in the hope of the resurrection, but the weakness of human existence is all too evident in this life. The omission of the alleluia is one symbolic way to enter into the spirit of the season of Lent. The days of Lent are days of penance and recollection of human weakness but also days of anticipation and so we long for the day when the kingdom is fully realized. To be deprived of certain things during the days of Lent is designed to create a longing for the realization of all that the life of Jesus promises.

Now, this has a direct, practical impact on those of us in the church music community.  There are a lot of songs that use these words. The selections of hymns and service music is affected. But in the choral community it has another impact. We are always rehearsing music a season in advance. That means we have to sing quite a few alleluias during the Lenten season to be ready for the glorious breakout of Easter.

But to some people that breaks the “alleluia” prohibition. I heard one fellow choral member tell a story about a lady who came down really hard on the choir in her church, the choir my story-telling friend belonged to. They wrestled with her, trying to explain the concept of rehearsal.

This extreme view has a different solution in some circles.Some choirs are not even allowed to rehearse with “alleluia”. I have heard that in some of those circles, the choirs have gone to rehearsing with “what’s it to you” during lent, in place of the “alleluias” they aren’t allowed to sing. That is a unique, and extreme, adherence, to tradition.

Fitness Update: Half-Marathon Prep

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I have been talking in prior blogs about how my pace of running miles for the year has started out slow for the year. But I didn’t expect for that tempo to remain the same. This past week is a proof of that.

From running less than 10 miles a week most weeks, last week I ran 20 miles. The prep for the half marathon is increasing the tempo of my running miles. Between preparing for the half marathon, and then staying in long distance condition for possible running events  for the Kansas City Corporate Challenge (have I mentioned that before on the blog, don’t think I have) that occur in May, I should catch up my running miles quite nicely.

The same, yet, can’t be said for my swim distance goals. I have yet to start on those. We will see whether this week changes that or not.

My current running miles: 112.30

Bicycle miles: 855

Swim Miles: 0

#179: Holy Bible, Book Divine

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(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)

The interesting thing to note is that this hymn is one sentence: you cannot cut out a verse without having a sentence fragment, an incomplete thought.

1

Holy Bible, Book divine,

Precious treasure, thou art mine;

Mine to tell me whence I came,

Mine to teach me what I am;

2

Mine to chide me when I rove,

Mine to show a Savior’s love;

Mine thou art to guide and guard,

Mine to punish or reward;

3

Mine to comfort in distress —

Suffr’ng in this wilderness;

Mine to show, by living faith,

Man can triumph over death;

4

Mine to tell of joys to come

And the rebel sinner’s doom:

O thou holy Book divine,

Precious treasure, thou art mine.