Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Our Rules: Tolerance and Respect
- Mostly it's about community, discussing political, ethical, social and moral questions, articles published on JewishJournal.com, Los Angeles news, events here and in Israel, and plain old schmoozing.
- If you are new to message boards, this link has a good introduction to the 'netiquette' of message boards.
- Prosyletizing is unacceptable. Please exercise tolerance and respect toward other participants whose views may differ from your own, and please remain courteous at all times.
- If you are here to "educate" us about how the Shoah did not happen, Jesus is the Moshiach, Israel has no right to exist, or that Zionism is racism, etc., no thanks. You are not welcome. Go away.
- Make the subject line as descriptive as possible about the message content.
- We are here to discuss subjects pertinent to American Jews; off-topic posts will be deleted.
- This is not an advertising service. We do not allow posts containing any form of advertisement.
- Copyrighted material is not allowed.
- Profanity is not acceptable. Ad-hominem arguments and name-calling are not welcome. We dislike lashon hara.
Content posted on our message boards which violates our standards is routinely removed without further comment.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Hey, we're doing our best.
Not all the music we sang was my favorite, to put it mildly, but I sang loudly when I was sure of the tune and more tentatively when I wasn't. A choir put together that quickly doesn't get a lot of rehearsal time, and we were a capella, since both the regular accompanists had to work.
A few days later I happened to be early to Sunday mass and allowed myself to be roped into singing with the choir. It wasn't my usual group, I hadn't rehearsed and I didn't know all the music. I lip-synched to the parts I didn't know and helped out when I could. In both cases, the mass was much improved by having live music. Some of the people involved (not me necessarily) had put a lot of effort into providing a service to the congregation at the cost of their own time, energy and talent.
I don't remember now whether it was on Friday or Sunday, but a woman came up to our songleader at the end of the mass and launched into a lecture on how we had sung one of the songs wrong. The woman demonstrated on the piano her version of how the song should sound. "You need to sing it the way it's written," she told us. As far as I could tell, we had sung it the way it was written. Her point had something to do with triplets, which she played very fast like incidental notes, but which we had sung pretty much even tempo.
I'm not a well-trained musician -- to say I even read music is an exaggeration -- and for all I know the lady was right. Nevertheless, I had two conflicting reactions to her criticism. First, I sympathized with her apparent impatience with the ad hoc quality of our church's musical offerings. I wish our choirs were bigger, more skilled and just plain louder. There are some structural reasons why I think my parish often misses the boat on congregational singing. For me this is often exemplified by the congregation's habit of applauding after we finish singing the recessional. Excuse me, we are not performers. If it is enough just to sit silently and listen to us then we're not doing our job.
Which brings me to my other reaction to the woman with the fast triplets. If she's such a skilled musician, why isn't she in the choir? It is easy to criticize from the pews, harder to stand up there in the front or the church and try to add to the liturgy. She was trying to be helpful, but she would have been a bigger help going over the music at the rehearsal before mass, and maybe even exerting herself enough to participate on a weekly or even monthly basis. We were surprised and a little hurt, so none of us showed the presence of mind to provide her with contact information or rehearsal schedules for our choirs, which always need new people.
The lesson here is obvious: If you think you can do something better than those currently doing it, then you should be involved.