Sue McDowell, Elizabeth Schroeder, Cynthia Faust and Mtr. Maria attended a Music that Makes Community workshop in Cincinnati from September 25-28 (checkout the pictures!). The trip was sponsored in large part by a generous grant from Province 8 of the national church. The workshop was co-hosted by St. Simon of Cyrene and Christ Church, Glendale. St. Simon hosted us the first evening, providing a delicious meal followed by a Community Sing led by workshop facilitators Michael Atty, Monica Marie, Chanda Rule, and Paul Vasile. The beautiful quilt telling the story of the Underground Railroad, made by St. Simon’s sewing circle and gracing their Parish Hall, provided a perfect backdrop for the opening of the workshop that was rooted in African and African American music.
Over the next three days we met in a cathedral-ceilinged chapel at Christ Church we shared stories, songs, meals, and worship. About 30 people attended in all.
Paperless music relies on the power of song and rhythm to connect people. The facilitators encouraged us to trust ourselves as we practiced improvising, call-and-response, echoing, and droning. Using the techniques we were taught, we each taught a song to our small groups.
Paperless music doesn’t necessarily mean a cappella singing. The facilitators encouraged us to clap our hands, snap our fingers, stomp our feet, beat a drum, or sway our bodies to impart rhythm and tempo. This was a huge challenge. It was quite a thrill to be face to face with just our voices to lead the way!
A highlight of the workshop was the final assignment. We were asked to compose a song based on texts the facilitators had provided from scripture, poetry, or social justice movements. Each of us then taught our song to the whole group. By the grace of God and the skillful work of the facilitators, we all managed to overcome our fears, tap our creativity, and connect with the beautiful community we made during our time together. Cynthia’s song was then used by a Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition demonstration!
The motto of Music Makes Community is “Talk less, sing more!” Those of us who attended look forward to sharing the joy of what we learned—through music!