Greetings from your soon to be outgoing ACDA NW President! In keeping with my ongoing theme of productions, this article will be in two Acts. Act I will be a convention wrap and Act II will be a bit of reflection of my original promises to you when I first took office in the summer of 2004. I hope that both Acts provide you some answers and some stimulus as you continue your involvement in this great organization.
Wrap-up ACT I
Our production of the 2006 ACDA NW Convention has had it’s run, and if I can believe all the cards, emails and personal comments that I have received, it must be said that it was a huge success. Although there were some problems with the Hilton and the honor choir rooms, the things that we had control of went just as planned. Some of the comments from those in attendance have referred to it being a “great convention”, or ‘the best ACDA convention I have ever attended”. At the end of Act I you will find some of the comments that I received about the convention. Although they have come to me, they reflect the hard work of many in ACDA. Please note the comments from Dr. Stroope and Dr. Blackstone about the Honor Choirs. I also have included the breakdown of registration numbers and a listing of the convention committee who worked long and hard to help bring my vision of a convention to fruition.
When the numbers were tallied it was discovered that we had 406 registered attendees. This is the largest number in the history of our division! These numbers reflect 9 from Alaska, 28 from Idaho, 34 from Montana, 127 from Oregon, 146 from Washington, 28 from Wyoming and 34 from outside of our division. The breakdown further shows that there were 300 active members, 17 retired members, 50 student members, 33 guests and 6 one-day registrants. I was especially pleased with the number of members and student members who attended. This shows that we are primed for continued growth in our division and profession. The convention data also shows that we had the largest number of exhibitors in recent memory. We spent extra money on things to make the convention more professional and to provide the members more materials to better serve their needs and we still made a profit! We went back to having four quality honor choirs and our numbers were up from 2004 with a total of 586 honor choir students this year compared to 566 (in five choirs) in 2004. We enjoyed seven great concerts featuring twenty-three of the Northwest’s most outstanding choral ensembles and had wonderful interest sessions and presenters. Add to all this, a great location, quality venues, a wonderful performance by the Albert Mc Neil Jubilee Singers, and there was a little something for everyone.
Planning and implementing the division convention is the single largest
undertaking the president has. When I first started planning this convention
I had a picture in my mind of what a great convention looked like. I
also had a quote that helped to give me direction. It is by Goethe and
goes like this:
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I like to dream big. I love coming up with new ways of doing things, stealing ideas from others and making everyone happy. In designing this convention I wanted concerts, interest sessions, honor choir rehearsals and the convention hotel to be close to one another so that they were easily accessible. I wanted as many members as possible staying at the convention hotel so that the important aspects of collegiality and networking could take place. And I wanted the members to be free of chaperoning duties so that they could take full advantage of the convention. In addition, I wanted to find the best venues available, affordable and convenient and I wanted Outstanding Choirs and Headliners for our members to hear, observe, and learn from. I also wanted to make the convention a financial success while not being afraid of spending money to make the convention more valuable to our members. I think that the convention committee did a great job bringing all these aspects of the convention together and I have been fortunate to have such a great team. I also had some ideas about how we could make the convention a more effective tool for the members. Some of the ideas that we tried to include were borrowed from previous conventions, and some were a bit new. Among the ideas were:
This convention would not have been possible without all of the people listed (click here) volunteering their talents and skills. They exhibit the traits of service and leadership that I value most and that I have tried to emulate. They model the traits that we want our singers to exhibit in the rehearsal room, in the classroom and in life. We are fortunate in that what we do as a life’s passion has the additional bonus of instilling service to others and leadership qualities in our singers. This has been the case for centuries and music has been held in high regard when it comes to developing leaders. Socrates once said.
”If you want your children to be leaders, teach them music and teach them sports…but first, teach them music.”
Thank you for being outstanding teachers, outstanding musicians, and outstanding leaders and for your service to ACDA. Thank you also for allowing me to lead you on this journey. It has been my extreme pleasure.
Congratulations on putting together a “great” convention. I believe it is one of the best ever in our division. The choirs were certainly among the best I’ve heard. Bravo! -Bill Mayclin, NW ACDA President 1992-94
The conference was excellent. I thought the choirs were an excellent
Great work on the best convention I’ve ever been to. I got more from this convention than any I’ve been to – and that’s saying a good deal, I must admit! Much (most??) of the credit goes to you, for your tireless attention to detail and your tenaciousness. Thomas Isaacson, Baker City, OR
From a ACDA visitor from Minnesota
From presenters and conductors
were well attended and I received a considerable amount of positive feedback. I am grateful to all of you for your assistance
and congratulations on a wonderful conference. Dr. John Weiss,
Washington State University
More from Dr. Stroope...
From the national board
I began my tenure as President with a promise to each of you in the division that I would stress commitment, communication and contribution during my time in office. I hope that I have fulfilled those promises to you. Thank you for sharing your ideas, your talents and your time. Without all of you committing to the process, contributing to the vision and fostering communication, my presidency and our convention would never have been successful. The quote that I used at the start of my presidency was:
“The Power of WE is greater than the power of ME.”
It strikes at the heart of collaboration and successful teamwork. I believe it to true, and I am happy to say that many in our division stepped up and joined me in the continued implementation of this attitude.
Also during my journey as your President I tried to model the traits of leadership that I practice and that I want others to emulate. The traits that Barry Posner identifies as:
“The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership”Exemplary leaders are involved in “Challenging The Process”. They search for opportunities to change the Status Quo. They look for innovative ways to improve the organization …they experiment and they take risks.
We have many heroes and leaders in ACDA NW. Many of them answered the call when I asked for volunteers to help with this convention and the business of ACDA. Some are listed earlier in this article and others are listed on the website. Please drop them a card or email and tell them thank you for all of their volunteer efforts on your behalf. They have done great work for no reward other than the knowledge that they have made a positive contribution to their friends, their colleagues and their profession. They have demonstrated the attributes reflected in a quote I heard Eph Ely use at an ACDA workshop. It is a Native-American saying, and it has been my personal guide ever since I first heard it.
“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die the world cries and you rejoice.”
I hope that you have all gained something through your involvement in ACDA and that I have brought something positive to my term as your president. Have a great end to your school year, a refreshing and renewing summer and the best of all things in the years to come.
I love collaboration. Working together with folks who are talented, intelligent, and professional to see a project from inception to fruition is one on the reasons I am so attracted to the arts. My entire professional life, and a good part of my avocational life, has been spent brainstorming, creating and organizing productions. Whether it is a concert, a church cantata, a musical, an overseas concert tour or a summer camp I have experienced the rewards of collaborating with others to produce quality activities. None of these activities however, prepared me for the enormity of collaboration in all its forms that is the ACDA NW Division Convention.
For two years I have been assembling a “cast of characters” and a production team to work on producing the ACDA NW Division Convention. Previous messages from me have detailed the performers and stars of our production but in this note I want to bring to your attention the behind the scenes production team. You will find this team listed on the website by clicking the Conventions button and then going to Convention Committee. Take a moment to go over the list and contact these fine individuals and give them a well-deserved ovation.
While Scott Peterson and I are The Producers, there is a Company of ACDA professionals who are giving freely of their time and talents. They have had a shared Passion for this production and are promising to bring you The Full Monty of a convention. In The Beginning we had the feeling that we were going Into The Woods, but we have maintained an Anything Goes attitude that has enabled us to try some new things. We have been Working hard and are Closer Than Ever to Putting It All Together. We hope that these changes will make your convention experience deeper and more enjoyable ultimately leading you to a Celebration at the ACDA NW Production of City of Roses, City of Song.
Michael Frasier, President
Could you use some Graduate credit, Clock Hours or PDU’s?
A number of NW ACDA members have inquired about getting credit or clock hours/PDU’s for attending the convention. In response to those requests I have set up the following:
Graduate Credit- MUS 540 The Choral Art: Pedagogy, Literature and Current Trends will be offered through DDE at Eastern Oregon University. Cost is $180 for 2-quarter credits. As soon as all the registration information is available from EOU we will post directions and a syllabus on the NW web site.
hours/PDU’s- Each state
has its own way of handling these so I have asked each State President
to oversee this process. If you are interested in getting 28 hours
of clock hours/PDU’s
for the convention, please email your state ACDA President.
They will keep track of who wants credit and assist in getting the correct
paperwork for your state. Watch this site for updates. If you have a
question, contact your state ACDA President.
Hotel Registration: The registration deadline to get the convention rate of $89 per room night at the Hilton is Feb. 25th. After Feb. 25th the room rate is NOT guaranteed and will in all likelihood be higher. Rooms are filling up fast, so if you haven’t reserved your room, now is the time.
Parking: For those traveling by car to Portland you need to keep parking in mind. Parking in Portland is always difficult, but the Hilton has given us a special ACDA convention rate. You can park at the Hilton for $13 per night (down from the normal $18). You are, of course, welcome to park off site at another location.
Meals: I have negotiated a special meal rate for convention goers at the Hilton. Wear your name-badge and receive a 10% discount at the Bistro 921 in the Hilton and Porto Terra at the Hilton Towers. (Alcohol not included)There are many places to eat in the area, but take advantage of this discount when eating at the Hilton.
Michael Frasier, President, NW ACDA
When you think of a retired choral director what do you think of? When I retired in June of 2003 I had definite ideas about my retirement life. It would be a time for more reading and for being a better dad and husband. I would have time for those “honey-do’s” that had piled up at home. I could do a bit of teaching and judging and have time to work on my golf game. These were all a part of my retirement plan. My, how plans change!
Now, let’s fast-forward two years, to 2005. How is my retirement stacking up to my vision from 2003? Let’s see now. I have been reading a lot, as it helps me turn my brain off at night when ACDA NW Convention plans are filling my thoughts. I have been a better dad and husband, except for when I am working on ACDA Convention stuff and forget to come home before everyone is asleep. I still haven’t gotten to the honey do’s because there’s not enough time, what with ACDA Convention emails and contracts and venues and clinicians and travel plans, and hotels and busing and…well you get the picture. Teaching and judging and clinic work? I am doing that. Those activities help me remain connected to my craft and keep me sane. My golf game…it’s still bad! But it would probably be better if I had played more than three times this year.
Why isn’t my retirement matching up with my vision from 2003? Perhaps it is because I traded a full time job, teaching HS Choral music, for 3 part-time jobs: those of househusband, teacher/consultant and ACDA President! I LOVE all three… but I still don’t have time for golf!
Why this little retirement story? Well, I wanted you to know what makes me “tick” and I wanted to use a story to segue into my update on the 2006 ACDA NW Division Convention.
City of Roses,
City of Song will be held in Portland, Oregon March 15-18, 2006 and the “buzz” from
long-time ACDA members is that this promises to be the best Division
Convention ever! I have been working tirelessly for the past 20 months
trying to bring the Northwest choral community the best convention possible.
We have assembled a fantastic team of ACDA members led by President-Elect
Scott Peterson, web master Howard Meharg and Honor Choir Chair Christopher
Silva to help bring this project to fruition. The names of some of the
other convention movers and shakers from our awesome division are posted
on the NW ACDA website at
So what do
have so far? Well, to stimulate and caress your
ears, we have 25 outstanding choirs from the Northwest,
including the award winning vocal ensemble “Groove for Thought” from
Seattle. Check them out at http://www.grooveforthought.com/ .
For your resting and dining pleasurewe have a headquarters hotel, The Portland Hilton and Towers, that is conveniently located, well equipped for a convention of this magnitude, and priced at the outstanding rate of $89 per night!
For your listening pleasure we have two fine performance venues, The First Congregational Church and the First Baptist Church, both in close proximity to the convention Hotel.
For your students education and enjoyment we have four tremendous honor choir conductors who have selected truly fine literature that will, enlighten and enliven your students. The literature for all groups can be found at: http://www.acdaonline.org/Northwestern/Honor%20Choirs%20Lit%20List%2006.pdf . The honor choir concert will take place at the brand new Sunset Presbyterian Church, a 1500 seat auditorium style sanctuary that is state of the art. It is a fifteen-minute drive from downtown, but we will have buses to take you there!
is what I have been doing in my “retirement.” When I took
office I was told that my biggest job as president would be to put on “my
convention.” I understand why people call it that, but really it’s
YOUR convention. I think at this point we have all we need to make this
convention fantastic except for one. We need YOU. This event is where
you will re-connect with friends and colleagues, refresh your musical
mind, and renew your passion for the choral art. Each and everyone of
you needs to make attending this convention a priority in your professional
life. You will soon be receiving a convention brochure from the national
ACDA office. Look it over, fill it out and send it in. Or, if you
would prefer, go to the website at
spent most of my retirement the last 20 months working for you and
planning this convention. Many others in our division have put in
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” - Carl Jung
the President's Messages
Convention 2006 “City of Roses, City of Song”
THE largest and most consuming of all these tasks is the planning of the division convention. The planning began long before I took office as President in August and has been an almost daily activity since. The organization, planning and facilitating of the convention will continue throughout the summer, fall and winter leading to what I believe will be an outstanding convention, “City of Roses, City of Song” in Portland, Oregon March 15-18, 2006.
I would like to apprise you of some of the convention plans so that you can start planning now to attend. I have worked hard to bring outstanding conductors and headliners to Portland. Negotiations have been finalized with two of our headliners for the convention. Our headlining performance group will be “The Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers” from Los Angeles! Those of you in LA in February will remember their outstanding performance. They will present a concert Friday evening during the convention. Founder Dr. Albert McNeil is well known to the national choral community and is one of the nations pre-eminent experts on the African-American choral repertoire. He will be presenting an interest session, using a demonstration choir, on performance practice/rehearsal techniques in spirituals.
Another headliner will be Dr. James Jordan, from Westminster Choir College. Dr. Jordan will present multiple interest sessions and a reading session. James Jordan is recognized and praised from many quarters in the musical world as one of the nation's pre-eminent conductors, writers and innovators in choral music. The Choral Journal has called him a “visionary”. His career and publications have been devoted to innovative educational changes in the choral art, which have been embraced around the world. A master teacher, Dr. Jordan's pioneering writing and research concerning the use of Laban Movement Analysis for the teaching of conducting and movement to children has dramatically changed teaching in both those disciplines. He has also well known for his writings on the choral art, specifically his books, “The Musicians Soul” and “The Musicians Spirit”. His sessions should be both educational and enriching!
I was able to secure four outstanding honor choir conductors for the convention who will inspire our students and provide a truly memorable musical experience. Dr. Jerry Blackstone, from the University of Michigan, a national leader in the male chorus will conduct the HS Men’s Honor Choir and Dr. Z. Randall Stroope, will conduct the Women’s Honor Choir. Dr. Andre Thomas from Florida State University will conduct the Jr. High/Middle School Choir, and the Northwest’s own Rebecca Rottsolk will conduct the Children’s Honor Choir.
Are you excited about the convention yet? I am! Along with the great interest sessions, conductors and headliners mentioned we will be featuring over twenty of the Northwest’s most outstanding choirs, representing all of the states in our division and the province of British Columbia. And there may be more exciting news yet to come, as negotiations are ongoing to bring in an International choir from China!
Answering The Call
In my last article I talked about the need for people to contribute to ACDA and commit to making the division successful. I asked that you please "answer the call” if approached to do a job and many of you have done just that. I would like to thank President-Elect Scott Peterson for his efforts on the Performing Choir application project and state presidents Solveig Holmquist, Leslie Guelker-Cone, Lani Monds, Diane Hultgren, Ted Totorica and Kevin Allen-Schmid for shepherding the state selection committees through the daunting task of listening to all the great choirs who submitted applications. To Doug Anderson, a huge thank you for heading up the Division screening and being so extremely organized. Thank you also to the NW screening committee who sent us truly great choirs from which to choose.
Others of you who are stepping up and answering my call for assistance include the members of the NW board of directors who give so much of their time and energy for this organization. I would also like to thank all of the folks who have agreed to serve on the convention planning (and implementing) committee. You will be hearing more about these good folks later. I am still in need of volunteers to fill spots on the convention committee, so if I call please consider joining this wonderful group.
NW Division Directory
Any of you who responded to the postcard we sent last fall should now be the proud owner of a 2005 ACDA Directory. This is one of the projects that didn’t go perfectly, but all in all turned out well. The directory came out later than hoped and does not include everyone. Only those members who sent in the information prior to January 1 had their information included and then sent a directory. This is a large undertaking and I am sure some of you were missed. If you didn’t receive a directory, and you sent in the information, email me and I will try and sort out what happened. For those of you who would like a copy of the directory I will be sending the extras to state presidents. They in turn will have them available this summer and fall at state ACDA activities and can give you one at that time.
As I close, I want to leave you as always with a few quotes. I hope they inspire you in the same way that they inspire me.
“Music is the place where you learn to think with your heart and feel with your head!”
“We are what we continually do. Excellence then is not a single act, but it is a habit in the pursuit of academic and musical distinction.”
“Whatever you can do, or dream, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it,”- Goethe
This one is just for fun, but I know how she feels.
“I always wanted to be someone, but I should have been more specific!” - Lily Tomlin
Have a great summer!
By Michael Frasier, President, NW ACDA
At my first board meeting as President in August I tried to set a tone of transparent leadership and collaboration that I hope will be the hallmark of my time as President. If you have not read the minutes from that meeting, I encourage you to do so. Howard Meharg, our NW Notes Editor and web master has put them on the web page. By reading the minutes you might get a better idea of how decisions are arrived at, and to how much thought and discussion goes into the decision making process. I often hear people grumbling about how this was done, or that was done. I don’t ever take it as a complaint, but rather as a lack of information as to how things actually work at the division level. The National ACDA office has policies, rules and procedures for divisions to follow and it helps us all greatly. We were all trained as choral conductors and became what I call “benign dictators”. We were able to run our programs somewhat unilaterally, and even though that would make life somewhat easier, the division does not run that way.
Since my first article in the fall of 2004 a great many things have happened in the life of the ACDA NW Division. My time has mostly been spent organizing aspects of the division convention that will take place in Portland, Oregon March 15-18, 2006. I have secured conductors for all of the honor choirs, venues for the performances and Honor Choir Concert, a great convention hotel with very good room rates, and have worked with treasurer Carol Stewart-Smith to come up with a convention budget that will hopefully enable us to show a modest profit. I have also been working at securing a headliner for the conference. I began with great dreams (see the quote at the end of the article). So far I have been unsuccessful, but I don’t give up. I will give more details about the convention, as we get closer to 2006.
I have also been working with Vice-President Twyla Brunson and Howard Meharg at putting together a new ACDA NW Division Directory. It will be sent out the first of February. I think you will find it very helpful in your efforts to communicate with your choral colleagues. Sorry it is so late, but the info cards were a bit late in being returned to us. By board decision, only those members who returned the info cards will be included in the directory and will have a directory sent to them. Any extra directories will be made available at various ACDA functions.
A third project has been the updating and publication of the call for performing groups for the 2006 convention. Scott Peterson, ACDA NW President-Elect is in charge of this and he will have The Application for Performing Groups posted on the web page very soon. Please look for this information and think about sending in a recording of your group for consideration. I feel that having a group selected to perform is both and honor and a way of giving back to ACDA.
In my 6 months as ACDA NW Division President I have been struck by both the enormity of the job and the importance of what the ACDA NW Division officers do to see that the workings of our district run smoothly and successfully. I am excited about our organization and where it is headed, and I am honored that I was entrusted with the job of helping lead. In my first article as President I addressed The 3 C’s of Membership: Communication, Commitment and Contribution. I have tried to always remember all three in my service to you, and now it is your turn. Leaders often refer to a Call to Service when they want to rally those they have been chosen to lead. The first great President of my life put it this way: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. We have great people helping run the workings of ACDA NW, but more are needed. I hope that if I call, email or write to you asking for assistance or help with ACDA that you will be able to answer this Call to Service. I will be in touch. Will you answer the call?
Quote: “ Whatever you can do, or dream, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” Goethe
On a personal note, I spent last weekend at the OMEA conference talking to many of you about ACDA and getting ideas for our conference. Thank you for your ideas and insights. I will be in LA for the national conference as both your president and as a parent of a singer in the National ACDA HS Honor Choir (Devin Frasier, Tenor II) I will look for you in the mass of humanity. I will also be in Bellevue for the NW MENC conference and hope to see you there.
Power of We...
Communication, Commitment, Contribution
by Michael Frasier, President, NW ACDA
|1 - October, 2004|
This is intimidating! My first Northwest Notes article as the President of the Northwestern Division of ACDA and I don’t know what to write. What could I possibly say that would be inspirational, informational or entertaining enough to be read by some of the finest choral musicians in the nation? I’ve got it! How about an article on style? Now that would be valuable. Okay, style…. Never wear a polka dot tie with a plaid sport coat! No good. All my colleagues know that already. Let’s see, how about technique? Head down, slow back swing, smooth follow through… wrong again! This is hard. What can I say? I know that everyone who reads this newsletter put together by our outstanding editor, Howard Meharg, expects the best in quality educational writing and I am failing them. How can I possibly communicate to my constituents the need for commitment…or encourage them to make a contribution to the ACDA NW Division? Wait a minute. Communication? Commitment? Contribution? That’s it: my inspirational, informational, educational, and entertaining theme for an article. I’m saved!
Enough silliness, I do have something to say that I hope will cause you to think about our organization and your part in it. I call it The 3 C’s of membership: Communication, Commitment and Contribution. What follows are my thoughts on the 3 C’s, how I can serve as a facilitator of each in our division and what YOU can do to personally address the issues of Communication, Commitment, and Contribution.
Already we have set-up a division leadership list serve, where your division officers can share operational ideas, discuss board issues and communicate rapidly whenever we wish. I think it will enable to do a great deal of positive things that weren’t easily done previously.
Tywla, Howard and I have started work on a new division directory so that we all have a hard copy directory of our membership.
I am also planning a videoconference meeting for this winter that will enable the board to meet without us all having to go to a central location. This will save the board time, and the division money.
You can help with the Communication piece in three ways. First, send in the information card that you received as soon as possible. If you didn’t get one, or it got misplaced, send the information electronically to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do it soon. Secondly, you can drop me an email and let me know about the great choral happenings in your area. Invite me to come to a concert, festival, clinic anything that you want to brag about. I love seeing different parts of our region, hearing great choirs, and learning more about the great things happening in the Northwest. I might not get to them all, but I will know what is happening around the division. Thirdly, talk to your R & S folks. Ask them for ideas; make suggestions for the Northwest Notes or for convention interest sessions. They want to be used, but they need to have you communicate your thought and needs.
I have made a Commitment of the next 6 years to help our division prosper and I am honored to do so. I ask each of you to find a way to commit to ACDA NW. Go to an ACDA sponsored workshop, conference, in-service or festival. Take a colleague along and invite them to become a member. Go to Los Angeles in February for the National Convention. Be an advocate for ACDA and choral music. These are necessary and vital to the growth and health of our organization.
What can you do? Along with your commitment to ACDA you might volunteer to write an article for the Northwest Notes. R & S chairs would love to have other choral directors share their thoughts. It also takes some pressure off of the R & S folks to be “inspirational, informational and entertaining”(see paragraph 1) on a regular basis. Develop an idea for an interest session at a State or Regional conference. Become an “expert” on a choral topic and become a resource to others on that topic. Help a new choral director by sharing ideas, literature, and day-to-day nuts and bolts about what you do that makes you successful.
These are only some of the things you can do for ACDA. ACDA is a great organization. It is great because ACDA members are able to communicate, commit, and contribute to their craft, their singers and their audiences. And it is great because of people like you who inspire, inform, educate and entertain me everyday.
I always close with a quote, and today is no exception. This is from “Hoop Dreams” by Phil Jackson:
The power of WE is greater than the power of ME.
|So be it!
by Howard Meharg
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OK, so my arms were not long enough to get the newspaper far enough from my face so I could read the newspaper. Glasses? No big deal. Bifocals? Oh, all right, I can deal with that...albeit with considerable grumping around about getting used to them.
But now there’s this other thing! People just don’t talk as plainly as they used to. What ever happened to teaching public speakers how to enunciate? Don’t they know how to spit out those consonant sounds? And then there’s television...especially the “West Wing.” They talk fast and mumble. My wife walks in the room from the other side of the house and says, “Why do you have the TV turned up so loud?” “Well, duh...these actors don’t know how to speak clearly!”
Choirs? Final consonants seem to be a thing of the past. What’s wrong with these directors nowadays, don’t college conductors teach the basics of diction?
My wife, Karen is not one to beat around the bush. “You should have a hearing aid!” “What are you suggesting,” I argue, “at the age of 65, I should have an ear ring made...that’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard of...I can’t imagine...” She interrupts with what I think was a shout, “No, a HEARING AID!”
For months this went on...she talking softly to aggravate me; I, aggravating her by constantly asking her to repeat things. Then, one Sunday at church my daughter-in-law sang a solo. I couldn’t understand a word she sang. I wanted to chide her that her normally fine singing diction needed some work. But somehow I knew this was not the problem. Monday I had my hearing checked. Verification! The higher frequencies were dropping off enough to lose those consonant sounds. Oh, my God!
We think nothing of wearing glasses. Even kids sometimes have need of vision correction. My dad had hearing aides. He was old. I now have a hearing aid. I must be old. This is somehow more than getting a little “hearing correction.” This is BIG. Frankly, this literally caused some mild depression for me. It was verification of what I was seeing in the mirror and trying to deny.
Naturally I went straight to my priest. Big help there. “Yep,” he says, “I’m beginning to feel more aches and pains myself...and I’m only 55. Time surely does fly, doesn’t it.”
As I drove away from the church I turned on the radio. Garrison Keillor was quoting the poet Robert Bly, who had written about the “great Amen,” or “So Be It.” He had written:
a young boy leaps over seven hurdles in a row,
Time surely does fly, doesn’t it? Hey, relax...say “Amen.” Some things have to be accepted with “so be it,” albeit, in my case, with considerable grumping around about getting used to it.
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