Saturday, June 16, 2012

"You make it look so easy"

I learned a new word yesterday -- Sprezzatura.

Sprezzatura means doing something difficult, but doing it with such a casual air that no one would ever know how much effort went into it.  For example, this is sprezzatura:

Is sprezzatura a good ideal for a church choir when they're singing?  I think so, IF it's done right.

Our goal in church singing is to draw attention to the music and the message, not to ourselves.  So we don't want to give the impression that we're out to show everybody how hard we worked to learn the songs.  We want to communicate a feeling that matches the mood of the song, whatever mood that is -- joy, gratitude, love, expectation, repentance, admonition -- not a feeling of "let's see if we can pull this off."

So how do we cultivate that feeling of ease and comfort with the material?

Practice, practice, practice.

Here's an analogy.  The first time you're driving to a new location, you have to carefully look at your directions, the freeway and street signs, the addresses on the buildings, etc.  You put an effort into successfully completing that trip.  But after you've driven there many times, it becomes an instinct.  You drive from your workplace to your home and barely think about the directions.  Instead you can think about how glad you are to be going home, who will be there when you arrive, and what you're going to do once you're there.

It's the same way with a song.  You know a song pretty well after a couple of rehearsals, but you might still have to concentrate to remember your notes, the lyrics, and the sequence.  But after doing it enough times, it becomes a part of you.  Everything is automatic.  That's the time that you're ready to minister the song most effectively.

I believe in rehearsing new songs many times before we sing them.  The more comfort we have with the technical aspects of the music, the more we can focus our mind and spirit on the message -- joy, gratitude, love, expectation, repentance, admonition.  The technical demands barely trouble us any more.  "You make it look so easy."  Sprezzatura.

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