Scene4-International Magazine of Arts and Culture
Claudine Jones-Scene4 Magazine

Claudine Jones

Rabbit Hole

Well this is my second time extemporizing. Sitting down in front of a blank sheet of paper as it were, only it's not paper. It's kind of nice to hear the sound of your voice while you're composing; it's even nicer not to have to type oh my Lord. Of course I learned how to type in high school in fact I took typing my sophomore year I want to say—no actually it was my junior year because that was the last year that Mr. Gray was the Drama teacher and he was so upset with me he asked me to give up the typing class come back to drama and of course I didn't stand up to my mother.  I took the freaking typing class. Now all these decades later I'm thinking would life be any different if I had taken my drama class as I had wanted to.  Now people don't even learn to type they just figure it out on the fly. My oldest son lives in front of a computer; he never took a damn class.

My old man says I woke him up the other night saying or WaterBridge-crexclaiming or crying out: Under the bridge! (I don't remember it.) That sort of applies to pretty much everything though. For example,
I just looked at my emails and what should be there but a news and notes from our choir director saying that we are postponing our world premiere, the piece that I have busted my balls on for the last 6 weeks, because it's not ready for primetime. We just can't do it—we'd embarrass ourselves. I get that. Nobody wants to embarrass themselves in public. Not to speak of people paying to get in to hear you. But what hurts me is that we're leaving in a piece that I have so avoided; I really don't enjoy it at all and to my memory we actually have not put all the pieces together yet in rehearsal and we're really getting short so how the hell we're going to do it I don't know. And it was composed by one of our choir members holy crap. I actively dislike the piece and so of course I've been avoiding it whereas the one that has been cut I actually came to relish: triangle / / triangle / / triangle / / there's something about wrapping your head around unusual rhythmic requirements;  gets under your skin it becomes like tackling a particularly difficult slope at the ski lodge or something and then you get a cup of hot chocolate afterwards. But it's got to be worth it I mean seriously. If at the end of the day you get cup of sludge well now that's not much of a reward is it.

Now I'm looking at my notes which go as follows: run-up to curtain, why am I Faking It? Ego? Will I get caught? Do I want to get caught? Am I past my expiration date? I have to admit that was I thinking 4 or 5 days ago just before I went to sleep and I had no energy to follow up on these notes but I didn't want to lose them so I scribbled them on a piece of paper which actually is on the back of the Seven Deadly Emotions of Caregiving leaflet I was given at the Wednesday night caregiver support group. It's actually kind of nice; I've been reading through it at night. I read trap number 1 one night, trap number 2 the next, trap number 3. It's not too hard going to sleep on that, for example pasting on a happy face belies the truth and can be frustrating to the person who knows he or she is ill or dying.  I can go to sleep on that. Not sure why.

But let's get back to the point. I have a tendency I know I know to go back over ad infinitum triangle / / trying to figure out how to live a life that so thoroughly involves performance, such a Honey Trap can you... you can't even call it honey because it is so corrosive sometimes...what are you going to do? So I examine my motives: why am I a person who is so tangled up with wanting to jump in there. Like last Monday night I was totally not prepared but I jumped in any way to fill in a little solo slot in a piece that would consist of basically several Jesuses and a couple of hallelujahs and a come for the healing and it wasn't in my range. It was going to require a gentle belt and depending on whether or not we would be provided microphones that could be problematic so why did I volunteer?? For crying out loud I didn't even do a good job I told the director while we were standing at the piano oh my God that was terrible but he hauled me up there anyway doing a run-through so I don't know.

I can answer the expiration date thing though. Except for some incipient wobbles which I have to admit are a little troublesome my voice is in pretty damn good shape considering how much I actually sing full voice. I have never been a great one for exercising the Voice like it's a muscle blah blah blah I pretty much feel as though the most important thing is my general health and confidence, and also choice of repertoire because I know what I cannot sing and what I can sing. I like to think that I'm following my late great Lillian's Credo be Fearless not mortifyingly Fearless although how do you know until it's too late...? That's some calibration that comes with experience I think. If I were to reach the point where I was truly capital E embarrassing myself, to myself that would be a deal-breaker but that hasn't happened yet. I'm just amazed that there are people all around me who are  timidly sitting there willing to hide and yet it's actually a combination: there are many who simply have a mediocre instrument and that blends just fine 120 people that's great. Many who are much better sight readers than me holy Jesus even after Decades of trying my Ozark genes are still pulling me back down. What is it they say yeah ask a hillbilly do you know how to read and he replies not so it hurts my music.

I always said I wanted to be competent. I want to be the one that people could count on in an ensemble. But I realize I'm really too lazy. I have nothing in me that is disciplined enough to spend the time that would be required to be able to read fly shit off of masonite which is how one of my choir directors described a musician he knew. That's actually pretty cool but I have a colleague who says she is able to sight-read somewhat freakily and bless her heart she is but I would not trade my voice for hers I'm sorry. She's really sweet but no that's not a voice I would want to have.

Maybe that's my answer. I'm happy knowing that I have what I have even if I don't get to trot it out all the time. I want to be that person who you can count on to knock it out of the park even if coach only puts me out there once in awhile.

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Actor/Singer/Dancer Claudine Jones has worked steadily in Bay Area joints for a number of decades.
She writes a monthly column and is
a Senior Writer for Scene4.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives.

©2018 Claudine Jones
©2018 Publication Scene4 Magazine




April 2018

Volume 18 Issue 11

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