Sunday, April 18, 2010

What this blog is about

I remember learning to read. It began when I was 4 years old and attended a private kindergarten for two years. By the time I was in 1st grade, I was reading way ahead of most other 1st-graders.

I don't remember learning to read music. I'm pretty sure it began about the same time, but I don't really recall the time when I could or could not read music. I grew up in the Church of Christ, and we do not use mechanical instruments. We use only voices, or a capella singing. Such singing brings its own challenges and rewards. One of the great challenges is turning a group of people who are mostly musically illiterate into a group of people who can sing well in spite of that. Some congregations never achieve such singing.

I was lucky. I have been part of three congregations in my life who were blessed with musicians, song leaders and song writers, or who were indirectly but heavily influenced by such skilled and talented people. I was introduced to song leading at that same age of about 4 or 5, when I first stood in front of a congregation at our 5:30 PM Sunday "singing class" and started learning how to do it. My teachers at that time--though I didn't think of them as teachers back then--were Holland Boring, Sr. and his son Don.

As a teenager I began attending a two-week summer church music camp called The Foundation School of Music, which at that time was headed up by Holland Boring, Sr. At that time it was located at Camp Hensel in the Texas hill country near Marble Falls. It has since relocated but is still extant (follow the link for info). By that time I could fluently read music because I had been in school band for a few years and had otherwise been studying some of the music books written by Holland Boring on my own. By my third year there, I was in the advanced harmony class and continued in that class for the following years--I think I went there 7 or 8 years in all. "Singing school," as we all called it, taught us not only how to read and write music but also song leading and singing.

I later attended college for two years at Abilene Christian University before the money ran out. I studied music there as well, taking classes in music theory, sight-reading, and band (alto sax in marching band and baritone sax in jazz band--and also took some piano lessons). I later also took more music classes at SWTSU in San Marcos and participated in the university choir there, although I never graduated.

I am not an expert. I do not write these things to boast, because I have nothing to boast about. I am only an interested amateur with a love for music of all kinds, but if I have any particular area of "expertise," for lack of a better word, it is in the genre of gospel hymns.

This blog will focus on my love and interest in music in general and hymns in particular; on my slowly-growing collection of hymnals and the songs they contain. I have had many people who taught me music, but especially I would like to mention the following people for the training they gave me along the way: Holland Boring, Sr., his sons Holland Jr. and Don, Tom Chapin and Paul Epps.

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