Friday night, 6:00 p.m. We're back in the Science Spectrum . . . it hardly seems like a year has gone by since the last time I was dragging air mattresses, jam boxes and choir folders into the lobby, but time has flown by. One by one, kids filter into the lobby, while parents and staff members go over plans for the weekend . . . and it's going to be a long one!
Friday night, 8:00 p.m. After an hour of rehearsal, we pile into the IMAX for our own private showing of a movie . . . about cowboys and horses, of course! Just perfect for getting into the mood for our Cowboy Christmas shows at the Kessler . . . and leave it to our guys to discover a way to make life-sized shadow puppets on the ceiling!
Friday night, 10:00 p.m. One of my favorite parts of the choir retreat each year is watching our veteran singers "coach" our younger members in sectional rehearsals. It's very gratifying to hear them saying the very things we've been saying in rehearsals . . . does this mean they've been listening, after all? After half an hour of hard work, we gather in the stage room for "Choir Idol." Six groups of singers sang "As I Sat on A Sunny Bank" from memory and we are well on our way to our performance with the TTU Choirs . . .
Friday night, 11:30 p.m. The Apprentices are all tucked away in their sleeping backs, and ready for their late-night showing of "How to Train Your Dragon." Concert Choir singers get down to serious work with "One Fine Hour" for the Carol Concert . . . and they are going to sound great on this piece. It's hard, and requires sophisticated and sensitive musicianship. They are up for this challenge.
Saturday morning,1:00 a.m. Slowly but surely, we're shutting it down for the night. Some time around 4:10 a.m. I hear giggling, ("Can we play UNO?") but by 4:30 it's completely quiet. Too bad that alarm is going off at 7:00 a.m.
Saturday morning, some time before the alarm . . . one by one, little girls in pjs begin tiptoe-ing into the hallway where several of the staff, including me, are sleeping (finally) peacefully. Not for long; before we know it, they are piling onto air-mattresses, full of giggles. It's just like Christmas morning! They wake up happy and ready to pester the big kids to get moving, too. We start our day with an impromptu disco party . . . nothing shouts "wake up call" like "Copacabana" and "Dancing Queen" . . .
Later that day . . . some time between nine and one . . . best rehearsal ever! We've re-convened at Forrest Heights UMC, our regular "home" for the second day of our retreat. Somehow, these sleepy kids (and devoted staff) have found their second wind. We block the whole Kessler show, sustained by donuts and sub sandwiches (Thanks, Mrs. Roberts!) and sing through every one of the songs with Ray, the amazing guitarist and band leader. We love this music, and it shows . . . these kids are really terrific. I think we're going to have a wonderful weekend in December!
Dr. B's notes have been pretty sparse lately; like everyone I know, I've barely had time to think, let alone write inspiring prose for our column. It's "Candlelight Christmas" Eve (the first ranch gig is tomorrow night) and my head is spinning (just like the swirling dust last Tuesday!) with all the details that are still falling into place. But I'm not really anxious about any of those things, because between the army of parent volunteers, generous and flexible colleagues and the hardest working people in show business (aka our teaching staff!), I'm sure we've got things covered, or at least we will have by tomorrow evening. And our singers will do what they always do: shine like a West Texas star. :)
The past few weeks have been full of activities for us: the Science Spectrum, the rehearsals and Carol Concert (amazing!), last Sunday's service at Forrest Heights UMC, and of course the fun-filled "weather event" during last Tuesday's Ranch rehearsal. While I could have lived without the freezing rain, sleet, snow and dirt that fell down on our heads as we delivered sweatshirts, flowers, decorations and kids into the dusty Pavilion, in a way it all just added to the "happy chaos" we're living in at the moment. It's all part of the process of "making memories" together, and crazy or not, I'm enjoying every minute of it.
Ask me again after we've thawed out on Saturday night, and I bet I'll say the same thing.