Not being formally affiliated with the Reform movement, but working for Reform communities, I was glad for the chance to learn more about Reform worship and get more familiar with Mishkan T'filah, the current siddur in use by most Reform congregations. I also learned a little abut how to more smoothly integrate traditional nusach (cantorial prayer melodies, some in use for hundreds or even thousands of years) with the contemporary folk melodies now so popular in services.
The biggest surprise came on a short visit to the rare book room at the American Jewish Archives, housed on the HUC campus. Mostly I was counting on some mental downtime between intensive workshops. But when the instructor, Rabbi Rich Sarason, passed around a little book and invited us to look inside, we saw tiny, meticulously written manuscript and discovered we were passing around a Cantor's manual, one of the earliest known, dating from 1792. It had been a one-off, made by the cantor himself, since of course there was not a commercially-printed manual at the time. When it was my turn, I held the little book in my hands and looked at it. And suddenly, I recognized my place in this long chain of Jewish music. My place is small, to be sure -- actually, sort of tiny -- but I recognized that because I had made a commitment to creating and singing and teaching Jewish music, I had a responsibility to do what I could to keep this tradition going. So I guess that's the path my feet are on now. I am grateful for the clarity of direction, and will do my very best to do my part to keep the chain of music going.