Each faculty member led a small group class each hour, also. In these small group classes, we played vocal ear training games, and people took turns leading a smaller circle, or we were asked to improvise out loud on the spot. I didn’t want to, too nervous. My sister did not explain to me what this camp was but begged me to go with her for the week for her 50th birthday. So, I did. My sister did this last year, had an amazing experience without leading a circle or taking advantage of some of the other things she could do, and so, she was determined to put her fright aside and jump in this year. She improvised in a small class one-on-one with Bobby McFerrin. She also led a small group Circlesong in Judi’s class, and then, on her birthday, jumped into the big circle with about 150 people in parts and led and improvised her own Circlesong. Bobby McFerrin let her go for a bit and then jumped in the middle with her. Then, he jumped out, and she improvised above her circling parts. That’s what I was there for, to hold the soprano part steady, which I was fine with. However, in one class, I had to sing something about myself on the spot, which I did and made half the circle laugh out loud with my improvised words about my pet cockatiel and my repeated lick on “Tweet, Tweet, Tweet.” I also had to improvise a few times in Rhiannon’s class, and that was very fun.
All of that said, there was an undertone of Gospel and religion that came out in Joey’s class and sometimes in the big group with Bobby, which I hadn’t known would be part of this camp. If I did ever go, again, I’d be sure to schedule some down time and try to make it somewhat a vacation. It was definitely camp with not much sleep in those Dorm Rooms. One night, at 3 am, I woke up and heard a bass singing “Boom. . . Boom. . . Boom. . .” at an andante tempo. I thought, “Somebody from my elective Funk Circlesong group is outside my window singing on beat one,” and then, I realized, it was the lady next door to me snoring quite loudly and very well in time. I didn't feel any peace. At times, it felt like organized chaos; however, I enjoyed going to the Ram Dass library at 10 pm when classes were over as there was no cell phone, internet or tv access, and I read a book by the Dalai Lama. I also really did enjoy the elective Funk Group class.
I serenaded my sister on her birthday with a new version of “Fifty Nifty United States”, called “Fifty Nifty Years on the Earth”, my lyrics, Ray Charles’s music. All in all, I was glad I did improvise out loud, eventually, and that I held Bobby McFerrin’s and his colleagues’ improvised soprano parts in the Circle. I’ve improvised with two students so far, and we’ve all enjoyed the minutes of jamming.