A reflection of TCDA leading up to TMEA.....warning, this is not a rosy view of things.
I rode to San Antonio with Michael on Tuesday morning. Lots of good conversation. We checked into the hotel and registered for the convention.
Let me just say right here - the past 9 years, I have gone to TCDA & TMEA broke. Or I am dead broke at the end of the trip. No money. It's pathetic, but it is reality. Going to these conventions costs a great deal of money. The hotel bill is always outrageous. This time was no different. With Steve unemployed for the last 7 months, I didn't need to go, but I needed to go. Very few people understand this need. I got in and out of TCDA for less than $350 - registration, membership, and hotel. I chose to room with high school students - acting as a "chaperone" or "an adult in the room" - not a choice I will make again. It wasn't horrible - it kept costs down. They were great girls. I was not comfortable rooming with former students. In 3 days, I spent $76 on meals and $100 on hotel. The biggest expense was the $180 membership/registration fee. ACK! Considering I haven't been to TCDA or TMEA since July 2010, I think everything went okay. Not without snafus, just okay (I'm glossing over many details here). These conventions remind me that I am not rich, nor will I ever be.
I went to a few sessions on Tuesday afternoon, then went to dinner with friends. A wonderful evening with friends. When I returned to the hotel, I worked on music - writing solfege, analyzing, marking music, etc.
On Wednesday, I was up & at 'em, hitting the first 8am reading session. I succumbed to peer pressure and sang in a reading choir. I am more of a listener during reading sessions. The reading choir makes me READ the music. Of course, I was singing Soprano 1. At 8am. I'm an alto. I went to a good session about recruiting & retaining students in choir. This was great info with fresh ideas from a contemporary peer. Then I got lost in the exhibit hall. Roaming. Talking. Networking. Chewing the Fat. Ordering music. More roaming. I talked with a lot of good people. Julia and Amy reminded me to enjoy the process. With the help of the AMC music gurus, I found my out of print piece. Sally looked at my program repertoire and gave her commentary. Generally, she liked the program, but has questions with the 2nd piece. Yep, she has me scared, but I will figure it out or learn from a possible mistake.
Many of my Houston area friends/colleagues left Wednesday afternoon. I went to the TCDA business meeting. I went for 2 reasons: 1.) I love singing with a room full of musicians, 2.) I knew that I would be recognized for having a TMEA choir. Do I need that recognition? No, but I feel it is part of my duty to this profession to be present for something as seemingly mundane as a business meeting. What happens there? The room sings the Doxology together in full harmony. My heart swells with great pride during this moment - singing this hymn that I learned to harmonize as a child and now sing with a room full of colleagues. An honor choir of children performs absolutely beautiful music that was programmed very well. Then the "business" meeting begins. The business is recognition. For over an hour, people are recognized for all sorts of honors - scholarships (10-15), TMEA invited choirs (12), ACDA invited choirs (14), Young Director awards (2), Choral Excellence awards (3), then door prizes. Then the whole room sings The Lord Bless You & Keep You. I love all of it. Obviously more than my colleagues in Houston because I sat with my friends from Dallas/Fort Worth. Another lesson: this is only important to me.
I would have loved to spend the evening dining with friends, but that fell apart & I was not happy about it. I went to my hotel room only to be greeted with 5 teenage girls who desired nothing more than a So You Think You Can Dance party in our hotel room. I worked on music for an 30-45min, then I escaped to for my nightly phone discussion with Steve. Stir-crazy could not begin to describe how I felt in that room, but I didn't feel comfortable booting them out of the room. I was just a tagalong. Afterwards, I found an empty conference room in the hotel and really dug into the music. I think I figured out the problem in the 2nd piece that Sally questioned. A hotel staff member brought me a free cheesecake. All is right with the world.
On Thursday morning, I went to an 8am session, then listened to the 3rd installment of Craig Hella Johnson. My first thought - "Who is this hippie?" My second thought - "This country girl is way too simple for this level of artistic intelligence." Then he said he was "brain dumping" and I was sold. OH! This guy is just speaking in stream of consciousness? I get it. CHJ is to my little choir director world like Steve Jobs is/was to Apple. At that point, I began to really listen and wished that I had attended all 3 sessions. It was profound. Listening to him, I realized that I had chosen the right pieces for this TMEA program. I have found the center - I just have to bring the girls to it. Gleaning a little bit of CHJ's brain was as important to me as when I sang in the TCDA Directors Chorus a few years ago with Anton Armstrong conducting. I am different because of it.
Going to convention is tough for me. The first 4-5 years of attending convention, I was told what sessions to attend. Now, I like to be left alone to attend whatever sessions are important to me. I always have trouble finding a roommate - all of my friends have their regular roommates (colleagues or spouses) - and I prefer just 1 roommate. 3-4 adult women in a room is too much for me. Suffocating. If I could afford to room alone, I would - every time. I don't spend my convention time recreating with adult beverages. I can't spend a ton of money. I don't have a regular convention buddy or entourage. I go to learn and spend time with colleagues - that's what I enjoy. I'm an odd bird. As much as I love to be alone, I also love to be around people. It's a lonely existence that I haven't quite embraced. I enjoy it, to a point. The point is I'm socially awkward. The best conventions for me were when I presided sessions at TMEA. I LOVED that part. If I could be a part of the facilities or logistics team, THAT would be a GREAT convention for me. Stay busy & behind the scenes. I'm happy.
Then......it is time to go home. To see my husband and daughter. Reality. Love.