A Letter from Denise Lanning- Give Yourself An Assignment!

February 04, 2021

Yes, that is an odd title. I will explain later. 

We all have so many thoughts and emotions regarding this unprecedented time. These are mine.
We have been through a lot in 2020. We have been apart, sometimes together, then again apart. It has been nearly a year since we have been in one space for Sunday morning worship and the many mid-week gatherings. Lives have been lost, and many more people have suffered severe illness, extreme isolation, and ongoing aftereffects. Any accomplishments, growth, insights or skills that I have personally attained during this past year will always remain in the shadow of that sadness. At times, it has felt as though I had entered a void that left me rudderless.
Yet, there have been bright moments, and I have experienced many. During the mandatory closet cleaning I discovered several craft projects that I had completely forgotten, which are now finished, have been to the frame shop and have become gifts. One project remains, a needlepoint of Saint Cecilia (patron saint of music) at the organ, and will take most of 2021 and lots of baseball games to complete.
For many of us, this interruption in our lives has given us a gift of time. I decided that one way to honor this time was to give myself specific assignments, assignments that might take me to places that were known and unknown.
My computer inbox has become loaded with invitations to concerts, webinars and Zoom classes. I decided that it would not be possible to accept every invitation anticipating online exhaustion, so I became selective.
Technologically complicated and very expensive, the choral concerts that I have attended online that have been live, were impressively successful. I heard several concerts that had been recorded, again with impressive results. It’s hard to say who gained the most, the audience longing for the music, or the musicians, longing to sing.
Calvary is fortunate to be a member of Church Music Institute. I have an independent membership through the American Guild of Organists, and have attended some of CMI’s classes online. One class in particular dealt with selecting organ repertoire. The presenter approached the subject with selected genres, and how to locate styles that were of interest. Another class dealt with organ music in a meditative style, emphasizing that music need not be text based, or quiet, in order to be meditative.
The American Guild of Organists offered two improvisation classes in a webinar format (my favorite) that were excellent. One was given by Dr. Anne Laver from Syracuse University, the other by Dr. Ann Labounsky of Duquesne University. Both presenters provided handouts, giving step by step instructions for improvisations in their favorite styles. It was Dr. Laver who said, “Make a decision on what style you like, and GIVE YOURSELF AN ASSIGNMENT!”
Stepping outside of my comfort zone, Rosetta Stone, the language learning system, offered online live tutoring sessions for a low, unlimited session monthly rate.  So, I enrolled and am surviving. I may even improve.
Reading is always a joy, and daily practicing is a must.
We know not the hour of our return to normalcy, but I am feeling ready.