Sunday, June 24, 2018

to sing your songs

About a month ago, I was extended a release of my calling as ward choir director. I've been in a choir calling for five years. Well, first I started as just a choir member, but then I became choir accompanist, then I was choir accompanist AND music chair (more power over the choir mwahaha) and then ward choir director for the past two years. And now I'm just a choir member again. How things come full circle.

Last week my sister was also released as ward choir director (though a much shorter stint) and she made a blog post of all the music she had her choir sing. She recommended that perhaps I do the same.

Thing is, my choir performed over 30 songs that I specifically chose. (Not always with me as the director, since I also took it upon myself to suggest music to directors every ... few months.) That's a daunting list. (I do have the list. It's just not going to be helpful to anyone as just a list.)

So I'm going to talk about some favorites that we did over the years, as well as some resources I used to find music.

One thing I tried to use was the ward music library (and especially the stake music library, when I could bribe my way in). I wasn't much of one for buying 25 copies of music (yes, we sometimes had 25 people show up to choir!) so I liked when there were already multiple copies. Sometimes there's a bunch of stuff that's just not good (the stake library had an extensive collection of music for women, which just wasn't what I was looking for) but there's the occasional gem, so it's worth looking through. My favorite that I found from the library was "Death Shall Not Destroy My Comfort." I was blessed to have a wonderful accompanist who was willing to play at the organ. She also arranged the accompaniment for viola, flute, and organ in such a way that maintained a lot of the beauty of the original without having to find instrumentalists we didn't have. It was a beautiful song for Halloween.

(That's another thing, I loved theming the music to holidays. Songs about love in February, more haunting melodies in October, one notable June when I made my choir sing for Father's Day (My Heavenly Father Loves Me, from the website) one week and Joseph Smith's martyrdom (My Kindness Shall Not Depart from Thee, from the ward library) the next.)

I also used a lot of music that I already had around. Songs that previous directors had done (long enough ago that no one would remember them), songs I learned in college, even songs from high school choir. You never know when a piece will feel right, so I was glad I kept everything and had the opportunity to re-use some of it. I loved "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "Follow the Light" from my BYU University Chorale days. (No link, sorry. I can show the music to interested persons if they want.)

We also sang stuff straight from the hymnbook! Some of the stuff in there is beautiful, but can never be sung in sacrament meeting because it's too hard. We did "The Wintry Day Descending to its Close" and "Lean On My Ample Arm" just completely as written (like in the recordings linked to), without getting fancy on the verses. I fancied up "Oh May My Soul Commune with Thee" just a tad (exactly following the recording linked to -- listen, if it's good enough for MoTab, it's good enough for my choir that didn't have a lot of notice before ward conference to sing this one). I was blessed to have a pretty balanced choir for these numbers, where I could count on the sopranos to hit the high notes and the other parts to ... also hit their notes. They were "from the hymnbook," yeah, but they were complicated, and my choir stepped up.

My favorite resource was the internet. Well, scratch that. My favorite resource was the 2016 Church Music Submission Concert that my sister's piece was featured in. I used a TON of music from that concert. It's sadly not available right now, but I know the website will be back again someday. I had the choir do "Let the Glory of the Lord" (this was pre-my direction. I would've loved to do it again but time ran out), "Wonderful," "O Savior Thou Who Wearest a Crown" (more than once), and "Love at Home" (also more than once). The very last piece I directed was from the 2018 concert, this beautiful rendition of "More Holiness Give Me" (I guess just look at the sheet music and imagine how beautiful it is. Or I can come play it for you).

But besides that one concert, I often used the library at to find pieces. There is a good variety there of "so difficult I can barely imagine doing it" and also "this is pretty simple". That fun rendition of "Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise" is on there. Plus a lot of other stuff. I also would occasionally check out and various composers' websites. You really can put together a choir just using the free resources that are out there, if you have access to a copy machine.

As I was putting together the five-year retrospective, my access to the ward music document where everything is listed got revoked (so I put together the retrospective just in time!). Things really do come full circle.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

it hasn't caught up with you yet

Well I did it. I made it to 30. (I've been telling people I'm 30 for months, so it's nice to finally be there.) Approximately a fortnight ago I thought maybe I should create a "30 Before 30" list, as is the cool thing to do. With the help of my girl Cynthia I have realized what was on my list all along, and that I did pretty well!

1. Buy a car. Done. With mostly my own money, too!
Image may contain: 3 people, including Leslie Moon, people smiling, plant, flower and outdoor
There she is, behind some other cuties. My good old Silvey.

2. Participate in ward sports. Everyone knows I'm afraid of balls but I've suited up in both basketball and softball in the past year! (I think I played softball in my last ward too.)

3. Learn a new instrument. Guitar didn't go super well, but I've learned a couple songs on the ukulele (with more surely to come) so I'm counting it!
20-second effort before I messed up

4. Perform a dance number in a talent show. I'm extremely sad that my "Hot to Not" lip-sync dance routine that I got my sister to do with me 7 years ago didn't get recorded, but I do have this Irish dance piece I rocked...

5. Sing in the Messiah. Not the whole thing, but more selections than I knew before. It's a great tradition!
From our performance in 2014. For a video from 2017, click here.

6. Visit 20 temples. I don't think I've quite reached this goal, but I'm pretty close (especially if I count open houses and standing outside the gates): Logan, Brigham City, Ogden, Bountiful, Salt Lake, Jordan River, Oquirrh Mountain, Draper, Mount Timpanogos, Provo, Manti, Washington DC, Detroit, Nauvoo, Kansas City, San Diego, Portland.
My most recent non-Utah temple

7. Learn how to bake a pie. I'm slowly but surely getting better at this. Here's what was left of this weekend's efforts.
It was a chocolate pecan pie.

8. Accompany a full musical. Hey thanks, Anne of Green Gables, for helping me mark off this goal!
Image may contain: one or more people
I'm not in this picture, because I was not supposed to be seen. But I'm playing for whatever they're singing. Something about Prince Edward Island, I'm sure.

9. Participate in a musical production. Like, besides as accompanist. Here's me in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (for the second time).
Image may contain: 14 people, including Lynsey Stock and Jessica Smith

10. Visit the rose garden of my childhood dreams.
My blog post here

11. Floss more often. When I was 26 I didn't believe that this was a thing that could ever actually be done. I don't floss every day but it's definitely what I would call a habit.
The smile of a flosser

12. Meet one of my favorite authors. Megan Whalen Turner made this possible for me! And I guess Shannon Hale was there too (but she didn't touch all my books to bless them).
Blog post about that experience here.

13. Sew something I'll actually wear. I wear this apron all the time.

14. Ask a guy on a date. I've asked male guests to a few events, but I've still only asked one guy to dinner, just to have dinner. But I have done it!
(It was to Cafe Rio.)
15. Memorize The Living Christ. It was done. It may not be provable currently.
This doesn't have any immediate relation to it, but it's possible the document was discussed at some point

16. Sing a solo in church. It was a duet with my cousin Megan but I'm counting it because we both sang by ourselves during parts of the song.
There we are. This is not when we sang.
17. Get married. This one didn't happen. When I created the list there was still time (narrator: there was not still time)...

18. Kiss 5 boys. This one did happen. No more, no less. (You know what metric I'm using for what counts as a kiss, I'm not talking nephews here.)
Image may contain: 3 people, including Leslie Moon, people smiling, people standing, tree, child and outdoor
I have kissed all these boys too.
19. Write a successful pop culture parody. Cynthia and I can't actually watch this because we're so embarrassed, but we thought we were SO COOL and we definitely were so cool. And lyrics are on point.

20. Get a smartphone. This was achieved 2.5 years ago.
Pictured here is my very own original smartphone!
21. Coast-to-Coast. East Coast, West Coast, I've seen 'em both.
Acadia National Park and the Oregon Coast

22. Go to Europe. Achievement unlocked!
I actually have a ton of Italy pictures that I never look at and forgot I had.

23. Live in the same place for five years. Not exactly. I lived in the same place for four years, though, which definitely gave a sense of permanence to my adulthood.
...not sure why I have a blurry picture of the living room I lived in for 4.5 years but I lived here for 4.5 years. Almost a sixth of my life! And I loved it.

24. Actually write something in my 20's. I was pretty prolific in college when it came to writing fanfiction and whatnot, but I hadn't successfully written any fiction in years when I finally wrote "sharing a biscotti with some brunette hipster," which is a work I am very proud of. Next goal: more than 10,000 words?
Read my blog post about it (with a link to story) here.

25. Paint something. Painted, kept, and hung up in my house. Check!
It was a design choice I was making at the time.

26. Gain a higher education.
 I graduated from college amid hardship and loopholes, but I did it. I almost forgot to apply to graduate from my master's program but it's gonna happen this summer!

Can you believe I took these pictures within 5 minutes of each other?

27. Try a new food. I've never gone out of my way to try sushi, but it was always in the back of my mind that I should try sushi sometime in my life. And I've had it twice and would consider eating again. (No picture for this one. Apparently I didn't take a picture of the exciting sushi or anything else that sufficiently indicates I've tried new things.)

28. Have a calling outside my comfort zone. I could control this one about as well as #17 up there, but I've still had this opportunity. RS President was a lot of fun (also a LONG time ago), and so is ward choir director. Learned a lot!
I've been known to use memes to promote attendance.

29. Expand my acquaintances. There's always more people to know in my ward and neighborhood, but I started feeling like I should meet, like, other people. So I joined a random book club! (a Harry Potter one, because that's who I am)
There's all my SLC Hallows peeps.

30. Read 1,000 books. You can't prove I haven't.

Monday, January 29, 2018

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 100]

When President Nelson introduced his new First Presidency and addressed the members of the Church, his advice was: "Keep on the covenant path." I believe that temple covenants are important and powerful, and that all members should probably be working toward the temple and keep the covenants they make there (and I do my best).

But what's been on my mind lately is my baptismal covenant. How do I use my baptismal covenants to help me stay on the covenant path? Two scriptures about the baptismal covenant come to mind.

First, the sacrament prayer in D&C 20:77:

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

This prayer reminds us of the baptismal covenant, to take upon us the name of Christ and always remember Him and keep His commandments. In return we receive the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

We had a fireside Sunday night that discussed how we should always remember Him, because that helps us have the right mindset in our lives. We were to picture a lonely, inadequate moment and then walking into our room to pour out heart in prayer and the Savior's there. How does He greet you? How do you feel when His arms are around you? If you can hold on to that feeling, you're remembering Him, and the Spirit is there. Certainly an interesting exercise and one worth experimenting on!

And then Mosiah 18:9:

Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

This scripture, in my mind, slightly illustrates one thing it means to take Christ's name upon us: to mourn with those that are mourning, comfort those who need comfort. And we should also stand as witnesses of God.

Boy do I struggle with both of those. I never open my mouth to speak words of witness or words of comfort. So that's kind of what I'd like to work on when I think of keeping on the covenant path.

Especially empathy. Stop trying to solve problems for a second and just listen! Just feel their pain with them. That's what's important right now.

We'll see how it goes. I always have grand ideas and zero follow-through. But I'll get better someday.

(PS: wow, 100 of these MM posts. My last one was in May, and before that December 2016, so I guess it's semi-annual instead of weekly now. Thanks for coming along!)

Monday, January 1, 2018

trace all my books [2017 pt. 2]

Hello and Happy New Year!

In the second half of this year I checked out 40 books from the library (some I had read before, some I had not). From those, I selected my Top 15 and made a video about them. Here it is. Angle's a little weird but since when has that ever stopped us? (Also my mom called when I was almost done with the video, so that's why it has that weird jump cut)

I didn't actually do a great job saying what these books were about in the video (I was rushing so it wasn't another boring 15 minute video like the one in July), so good thing blog posts also exist.

So this one, something horrible happens to this girl and she wonders if she'd made a different choice...or, rather, if the villain could've been persuaded to make a different choice, if things would be fixed. And she's heard of this Library where you can change the past...

Elliot Schafer can apparently see the Wall, which protects our world from the Borderlands or the...Otherlands? Anyway he decides there's no harm in joining the training camp, because it's not like there's anything worth sticking around for in the regular world. Of course he's a terrible person, (AND a pacifist in a war culture) so finding friends is difficult. He'll manage anyway, it just might take 4 years.

The main girl is for sure magical. But that's a big no-no when she's a hostage in the enemy kingdom. But then she gets framed for regicide and has to escape to her home country and everybody's counting on her to wake the land or something. 

The girl. Whose name i don't remember. Knows she's an amazing navigator and is kinda sad that the Royal Explorer is probably going to take her sister on a dangerous expedition. How can she prove herself?

The girl is an amazing painter. Faeries love to get their portraits done by her. She knows how tricky they are, though, so she tries not to accept their gifts. And then the Autumn King comes to get his portrait done and she way messes up by painting him with a human emotion in his eyes and now his rule is in question.

Bonus because I checked it out again.

Ben, Trix, Hero, Prince, Maggie, and Leo are just trying their best in this Prohibition-era world! (a Much Ado About Nothing retelling)

One thing everyone wants is a miracle. One thing everyone fears is what it takes to get one.
Saints are the best at getting miracles for people, but not everybody can get over their darkness revealed.
Set in like 1950s Southwest Colorado.
Plus some other books that I didn't get pictures of...but the only really important one is What Goes Up by Katie Kennedy, because that's the one I read twice in a row. The guy shows up late to his first day of Space Camp where they're going to choose interns, and things go downhill from there. But bad news, he really needs this. But so does she. Her parental expectations are so much pressure on her, she can't fail. And what's the rush, anyway? Are aliens actually about to invade??

So What Goes Up and, I'd say, Speak Easy Speak Love were probably my favorite two.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

there's a blessing in every moment every mile

I mean, why not talk about my trip to Oregon some more? It was a fun trip.
Among many other adventures,
I enjoyed hiking to the top of Multnomah Falls:

View from near the bottom of the Falls
A hole in the rock
The top of the falls!
Hitting up the Portland Temple:

Our Beach Day:
You can't tell, but I was recovering from a failed jump. That's what you do on beaches, right? Jump?
Tide pools
dat sky tho!
Beautiful, beautiful day
Cape Meade (amazing):
The day started cold and cloudy, very atmospheric
Do I recall correctly that it's the shortest lighthouse around? It was pretty diminutive.
A giant pine tree. This is like one of its branches?
Sunny and warm
Hiking University Falls:
it might've been nice to have warning we would need to drive a few miles on an unpaved road to get to the trail.
Also the trail was not marked. But it was beautiful.
Finally like halfway through the trail we discovered we WERE going the right way.

And I enjoyed it with Cynthia, who was very patient with my being a delicate flower and also with me taking pictures of her in her natural habitat:
Rose Garden! You can be sure she got way better pictures of the flowers than I did.
Oregon Coast!
yeah the coast!
University Falls trail
Not a lot of pictures of our city day because my phone was clinging to death most of the day, but Portland was fun and nice too. And so was the Lewis and Clark state park and Tillamook. (major shout-out to Great-Aunt Becky who let us stay at her house! It was wonderful.) It was just all in all a great trip. Sorry for those of you that saw it all on my insta stories at the time and are getting a repeat. Sorry for those of you that missed my insta stories at the time and will never get a full picture of the trip.

Like, Sorry. But Not Sorry?