Monday, February 11, 2019

When Cultures Collide ~ Conducting Music or Clawing Maniacally

In the music lesson Sharon was studying today, they were introducing the art or skill of conducting music and explaining all the hand movements.

She found it interesting, and me ... well ...  it brought back a memory I hadn't thought of for years.

The summer I was eighteen my grandparents traveled out to South Dakota to some kind of health clinic where they stayed for several weeks.

After they came home Grandpa stopped by our house one afternoon. I was working my way through several wheelbarrow loads of sweetcorn, getting it ready to be canned. He pitched in to help, and we chatted as we worked.

Our conversation turned to their recent trip and the many things they had experienced. One happened to be about the way they spent their time on Sundays.

With no Amish church anywhere near, Grandpa and Grandma decided to simply walk to the nearest "English" church from the hotel they were staying. He was impressed with the nice soft benches they got to sit on, even though they were red, but it all got really strange when it was time to sing. Quite a few people went up front and turned to face the church, but just as they were ready to start singing this lady marched up to face them, and the entire time they were singing she stood there waving her arms and clawing towards them. He couldn't understand why no one did anything about it, since there was obviously something wrong with her.

Poor Grandpa never did learn that there was nothing wrong with the "clawing" lady, and it gave us all a good chuckle when I shared the memory with the girls this morning.


  1. What a lovely memory. Thank you for sharing.

  2. This made me smile. I can imagine it would look very strange to someone who had never seen a person conducting a choir before. And I must admit, sometimes when I see a person conducting I wonder where they learned. Their hand motions don’t resemble anything I saw in the choirs that I have sung in.

  3. Thanks for sharing. :-)
    How wonderful that your grandparents walked to an "English" church when they were in a different town! Most churchgoers today don't bother to go anywhere when they're out of town.

  4. Thanks for the laugh of course it would be strange to your grandparents as they were never in a English church before.

  5. Seeing it in my mind, I had to laugh. I can imagine it was strange to them.

  6. This made me smile! I can just imagine their confusion! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Must have been quite an experience for them! I've been re-reading your old posts about your childhood, I love them. I hope you might start writing them again soon.

  9. Wow, fascinating...I never thought of choir directing quite that way before.
    I don't think I will be able to forget this when I see a choir singing.

  10. Too funny!

    I remember once as a teenager, traveling with the choir I sang in to be part of a large choir conducted by a very well known contemporary composer. We were all horrified when he started conducting - he looked like a bird trying to flap it's wings and take off in flight! After the initial shock, we tried to follow his seemingly nonexistent directions. We made it through but we all lost a measure of respect for the composer.

    I would imagine a conductor would look very strange to someone who had never seen one before - especially someone like the person I sang under!

    Thanks for the laugh,

  11. I had to read this twice - my fault, not yours - and discovered your dad was talking about the choir director. My first impression was he had seen an ASL translator; sign language looks pretty odd to a hearing person. Pay me no mind.

  12. gave me a nice chuckle.

  13. Very funny indeed! I have been a choir director for many years. I miss the luxury of standing in front of a choir and conducting. At the church I now serve I am also the pianist, so I don't get to have that face to face interaction with the choir.


Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I love hearing your thoughts.