Friday, November 30, 2007

Cantor In Training

Hi guys. I'm having some computer issues, which is why I haven't been able to post as often lately. My computer miraculously decided to turn on today, so I'm trying to catch up on some much-needed blogging time. I'm hoping to keep posting, but I'm afraid that the frequency will slow down. I guess we'll see!

Anyways, this week was a big one for me. As part of the HUC first-year program, all of us are required to lead our group Monday morning services. Rabbinical students each have to pair up and lead a service once during the year, and cantorial students are required to plan and sing music for 3 services throughout the year. This past Monday morning, I had my first shot at officially leading a service. It was such a great and educational process for me, and it really was a huge accomplishment. I came into this program never having participated in a weekday service, which meant that there were a lot of new prayers and melodies to learn. The HUC Jerusalem campus also uses many traditional Nusach melodies that I learned and led for the first time, which are a capella and sometimes hard to grasp melodically. However, I learned them, and was able to plan music for a service that went extremely well.

This was the first time I've ever taken it upon myself to actually plan my own music for a service, which required a lot of work and thought. Whenever I've sung services at TI, Linda and I have always planned them together, and we usually know what the congregation likes and needs. Here, they expect the students to do that on their own, and picking out music for 50 people with completely different ideas of what makes a service spiritual and beautiful is not easy. Luckily, I think I managed to do fine; at our service review a few hours later Eli mentioned that he was very happy with my program. He appreciated the different moods for the different pieces and thought I had a good balance of Nusach, congregational melodies, and cantorial solo moments. I was worried about that, because many of my fellow students have mentioned how they prefer congregational singing to listening to the cantor. I've always thought that it is beautiful to have cantorial solo moments in services at times, to allow the congregant to internalize the prayer by listening to a beautiful musical setting. I don't know if the kahal (congregation) was all that pleased with my 2 soloistic moments, but in general I thought the service went well and Eli Schleifer agreed, which makes me happy.

Anyways, I know this may not be all that exciting to you, but for me, it's a huge accomplishment and something that I'm really proud of. I'm SO GLAD that this first time is over, and I kind of know what to expect from here on out. It'll be nice to work with my rabbinical colleagues for my next services in February and March and hopefully be able to enjoy myself a little more and work to create even more spiritual and beautiful t'fillot.

Missing and loving you all!!

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