The event running sheet lists the songs we need to take for the singer’s weekend. I remove the songs we are not singing. Removing the unlisted songs does not much much of a difference in weight but  it all makes a difference. The guest conductor is going to teach some surprise songs. It will be good to learn a song from the beginning again.
I have been told all pencil markings have to be removed from Tobias and the Peeooping Birds(Tobias and the Angel) by the end of the performance. (I must remember to take an eraser). My pencil has kindly recorded all the advice provided by the conductor on my long journey with Tobias. It is very cautious and is always warning me what to do well ahead of time. Things to remember – spit consonants out, whisper with purpose and menace, sing ‘chooce’ not ‘jews’ and lots and lots of Singlish.
I am definitely watching out for tram tracks in my music. These tram tracks (look like this –  || ) are musical Stop Signs which warn me of the moments not to sing. If I sing here I am in no man’s land with no safe way of returning. I will be singing solo if I venture further so I always have my eyes ready for these tram tracks.
My friend with the pencil markings all over it will be with me for the show. My conductor is fun. He has a wicked sense of humour and a ready smile. Always patient, always kind. He brightens up the day every time he teaches.
Now I have my instructions in my music I am ready to sing in a show.  My annotations are the foundation of my song and supports me just like my breath supports my voice. All too soon the song is going to be sung and then I will have to say goodbye to Tobias and the Peeooping Birds.
This story is unknown and strange. I grew up in a religious family and have never heard of the book of Tobit. I have learnt more than singing in a menacing whisper.

Birds on the Backyard Fence

After we came back to Melbourne everything was very normal. I reconciled myself that I could sing anywhere with the following poem.

The Birds on the Backyard Fence

Birds come and sit on my fence.
It is such a delight to see.
Some small, some fat.
I watch them with glee.
Some fly away.
Some stay to chat.
All disappear when they see a cat.

They sit on my fence
in a nice straight line.
All plump little semibreves
and all of them mine.
All equal notes a whole note in length
as they sit in my garden
on my backyard fence.

I don’t think it goes through their minds
as they are singing there
how good the acoustics are or
the lack of decoration everywhere.
They are sitting there because
they have come to sing,
not to be impressed or be distracted by anything.

I enjoy their singing.
I enjoy their song.
Sometimes the songs are short,
sometimes they are long.
They are happy little warblers
as they sit singing there
blending their voices together
the music for all to share.

The birds taught me a lesson
which I thought I should share
about what things really matter
and why we should not care
about the quality of venue.
We could sing anywhere.
From St Peter’s Basilica to
a backyard fence somewhere.
What really matters is
we sing to have fun.
We sing to be together
as we sing in unison.

Each voice a personality,
a personality expressed in song.
A family of singers,
a place where we belong.
And if we can pass that happiness
onto someone watching there
that is just an extra pleasure for us all to share.
It doesn’t matter where we are be it
St Peter’s Basilica or
a backyard fence somewhere.

Ducks Float. So do I.

Ducks float
Their legs are moving at 100 kilometres
an hour underneath the water.
A duck somehow knows if they keep on
moving their legs and body
will definitely not sink.

Singers float too.
Singers keep their voice moving
and body held in just the right way
for the breath to rotate through.
Stopping to think for one minute
will leave ducks and singers
up the creek without a paddle
so they need to keep on singing.

Keep on singing. Keep on singing
just like Dory out of Finding Nemo.
Ducks and singers will never stop
because they know.
They just know
how to do it.

I am not a duck but I do like to sing.
Maybe that is why I am happy at work.
If I sit still and think about what happened
I will be up a creek without a paddle.
I will sink under the facts that
I have lost my daughter to the madness
in her head and she will never come back to me.
So I keep on working.
I have to.
I will sink if I don’t.

Birds on the Backyard Fence Minus One

This is Birds on the Backyard Fence revisited poem. My choir friend went to Adelaide and never came back. She and I were pretty good friends but she had to go to Adelaide to help her sister at an aged care place. My friend never came back. This poem is for her.

Birds come and sit on my fence.
They come to sit and sing.
As each note is sung
friendships start forming.
Every word binding them together
so on my fence a whole choir appears.

But what happens if one goes missing?
There is a gap where the sun shines through
The choral sound is diminished no matter
what the other birds do?
The sound is different,
the voices do not blend well.
New talons and feathers next to each
other on top of an everyday type of wall.

The sound will blend quickly,
these birds are accomplished singers
but what has happened to the
bird who has gone off on its own?
To the songbird who never came back
to sit on my backyard fence.
The hole on the fence may be small
but the hole in my heart is immense.

I stuff the hole with memories of
songs sung and times shared.
But the hole remains in my heart
in the shape of you, my lost bird.
For the bird who has gone off on its own
I hope one day in the not too distant
future you can wing your way home
so you can once again be one of the
well loved and always wanted
birds on my backyard fence.

Archaeology of Voice

You are a fickle thing,
you who call yourself Voice.
I would not choose to follow you
if I had the choice.
But I am captivated
and astonished by you.
You make me hungry for more.
My mind and my heart will
always be yours
as you make sense of my life.

I don’t always understand
what you are willing to teach me.
Humility is such a hard
lesson to learn.
You teach me patience
and not to snatch
but to wait and share.

I think I understand you and then
you show me another side of yourself.
Once again I am lost
and confused.
I need to restart
and get to know you all over again.
Like archaeology there is
always a new layer of
tools to discover.

You are an uncomfortable instrument.
I am not sure whether I learn to manage you
or you learn to manage me.
You are fickle and contrary
but never boring.
It seem you have chosen me
as much as I have chosen you