Sensei and I spent most of Saturday at a pressure point seminar given by Will Higginbotham. This is the second time we've gone (he apparently does one in this area every year around Halloween), and as it was last year, it was really interesting. This year's seminar was a bit more focused than last year's, primarily because we had half-a-dozen police officers attending, and Sensei Higginbotham concentrated heavily on things they would find practical: control grips, come-alongs, ways to safely intervene in a third-party assault - that sort of thing. (Several wrist and finger-locks, Bill!}
I find pressure points fascinating, but they remind me of my father's description of neuroanatomy. You need a certain (large) amount of base knowledge to sink in before you can start putting things into a framework that makes sense. Right now these seminars feel like standing in a rainstorm with a teaspoon trying to collect the water. I come away with a few specific things that work (or not to do), and a broader fact or two, and try to remember them without having much of a knowledge structure to hang them on. I know the structure exists, but I haven't got it straight in my head yet, so things don't stick all that well. But each time, a little more makes sense, and I trust that one day, if I keep working on it, it will start fitting together sensibly.
It turned out to be a good thing that I was scheduled to conduct the choir instead of sing this Sunday, though, as I turned out to be the victim of choice when it was time to practice peeling off a guy who's trying to choke someone. So I got choked, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, by about eight people, several times each. My neck is still feeling it today, though not too badly.
The conducting went pretty well - especially for my first time ever. The choir was very kind to me, and paid excellent attention. If I'm going to do this again, I need to work on keeping my beat pattern while also giving cues, though. I know how to sketch time, and I know how to do entrances and cut-offs, but I tend to lose my pattern (though fortunately not my beat) when trying to combine the two. This might have something to do with it having been 23 years since my one semester of conducting class. (If you ever read this Constance, THANK YOU for being so stringent that most of what you taught has stuck. It saved my butt.) We're currently auditioning candidates for a new organist/choir director, and with any luck we should get one before Advent.
I'm also supposed to be playing my first full church service on the 13th of November. This is our Kirkin' of the Tartans service, with bagpipes and drums, in addition to the organ. I'm nervous (it's a lot of music), but I think it's mostly in hand - except possibly for the bagpipe bit. The piper said something to our priest about organ music to play with the pipes, but hasn't provided any - and if she doesn't get it to me within the next 2-3 days, there's no way I'm playing it. My biggest failing as an organist at this point is the sheer amount of time it takes me to get new pieces under my fingers. E.g., I should play this service fine, but it's been two months of prep work to get here.
For tonight, I'm working on Halloween costumes. Sewing for Robbie's costume (Colonel Mustang from Full Metal Alchemist), and somewhat more engineering like stuff for Aaron's (the Xenomorph monster from Alien). My children don't believe in easy Halloween costumes. Actually, if they keep this up, I'm going to have to teach them how to sew, so they can do these themselves.