There have been phone conversations with the clergy and Education Director at Congregation B'nai Jehudah in OPK as I compile music and materials for not only the Machane Jehudah day camp but also for a month's worth of services. This time, I will be pinch-hitting as a cantorial soloist. I think it is perfectly okay to admit that I am nervous about this added element. I don't have tons of formal cantorial-type training and have had to learn everything on the fly. I hope I'll do well by everyone. I've been sent recorded materials to help me wrap my ears around the musical minhag (custom) of services at TTBJ, and that will help a lot. But it definitely does remind me of how much I would benefit from a workshop or three on Nusach (liturgical chanting). I would really like to go to such a workshop one of these days, but they are expensive and there is little local support for such things. So for the time being, I keep trying to learn on the fly.
I have, with a friend's help, compiled recordings and lyrics of Israeli pop music for use at camp; prepared music for Shavuot services (which will happen days after I arrive); and materials for what I hope will be a beginning guitar chug (class) for the older kids and a kids' chorus for all ages. It will be a slightly different June this time around but still a lot of work and a lot of fun.
I also went ahead and sent out copies of my songbook/zine to pre-purchasers and thanked them for their support. CD sales have been small but steady as more people find out about my music by word-of-mouth. I also hoped to travel to synagogues in the next year to bring songleading and other music workshops to them. At least two synagogues are interested and are trying to find the money to bring me in. I am hopeful.
There are just three weeks left in my teaching year in Portland. I am wrapping up various lessons and projects with my students and enjoying these warmer days with the preschoolers as we laugh and sing our way through Friday mornings together. It has been a lovely spring. I am looking ahead to a busy and rewarding summer.
(below: morning T'filot (prayers) at Machane Jehudah, 2013)