Sewing Soprano

A sister sewing/musician friend of mine strongly encouraged me to blog about the fact that in addition to my being a singer/voice teacher, I'm also a seamstress and quilter. I've noticed that many people in the performing arts are talented in other art forms as well. This makes sense to me because of the common basic element of creative expression that exists in all art forms. I also enjoy calligraphy, drawing, writing poetry and songs and and solving puzzles of all kinds. Alas, perhaps even more surprising is the fact that I also build wood furniture and know my way around a router and miter saw!!!

So how does my sewing influence my singing and teaching? I'll share a recent analogy I used with one of my students when addressing the subject of baroque ornamentation.

I start with a basic pattern for a simple A-line skirt. The pattern on its own is shaped well and functions efficiently. However, if I decided to add a yoke, pockets, extra vertical seams, contrasting fabrics, a different hem line, pleats, ruffles, buttons etc., these are styling choices that will give my basic skirt some unique, enhanced (and hopefully tasteful) definition and variety. This sewing analogy seemed to make sense to my student because she was able to visualize what I was talking about and immediately relate to the concept and goals of ornamentation.

An esteemed colleague of mine, pianist, Charles Kemper, once described ornamentation to me another way that I really liked. He said the object of ornamentation is like a women wearing jewelry as opposed to a decorating a Christmas tree. The object of jewelry is to enhance the beauty of the woman wearing it. The goal of decorating a Christmas tree is often to have so many ornaments on it that one almost cannot see the green of the tree.

Back to sewing; while ultimately therapeutic and rewarding, I find this textile art form to be a lesson in patience, trial and error. (Like practice) Even though I have goals and a clear concept of what I'm aiming for, I also have to have a sense of humor when things don't go according to plan and know when to let things go and move on. Kind of like performing!