Sitting under a tiki shade at the Palms Hotel & Spa in South Beach and listening to bossa nova has me in a great mood this morning. Could also be the mimosas.
This Florida heat is pretty intense at first, coming from Colorado, but by day two, you mostly settle into the stickiness. I actually grew up down here, but I guess I've been away long enough to not remember just how sticky you get after just five minutes outside.
I'm here for a wedding. Two of my favorite people are getting hitched, and there is a lot of music in store for the weekend. Besides the wonderful tropical tunes and a fierce hotel bar band, music will surely be a centerpiece of the ceremony.
The groom, my friend Kurtis, used to live in Boulder and sang in the CU choir while attending college. He and I go way back, but our music history goes equally far. In high school, you used to find us harmonizing to Boyz II Men in the hot tub at James' house or shadow conducting to opera in our Wimbledon apartment on Madison.
After college, Kurtis once took my dad up on an offer to fly to the Ukraine to sing as a tenor with the Kiev Symphony Chorale and Orchestra for a performance of sacred works and some of my dad's compositions. Dad asked knowing Kurtis' penchant for classical music and his relative aptitude having been accepted to CU's performance choir. Still, I think it was somewhat a shot in the dark.
Kurtie did not disappoint. He's got the approach to music I wish everyone had and which I hope to pass on to my li'l youngster. He's never studied too hard and loves music of all kinds, but most of all, he has a willingness to jump into it and try.
Music like that which happens in a 200-voice choir on the other side of the world has a lot in common with the music around us in Boulder or Miami. It's meant to be tried.
Picture yourself at the next Railsplitters show or a summer festival. There are so many in the crowd, and I'll bet nobody's listening to you. Do what my buddy Kurtis does best and just jump in. Try to catch the words of the chorus and force yourself to sing along. Just do it!
The thing you can't get when just standing there closed-mouthed is twofold. Besides the excellent brain exercise of trying to suss out what the words are at the speed of the song, if you can get some of them right, you're knocking on the door of my favorite aspect of music: the shared experience.
When two or more people unite in voice (or instrument — it's all the same) the feel of making that music exits the personal level and the group coalesces toward one.
Dancing is about the closest parallel, and we'll be doing plenty of dancing at the ceremony. But I'm already warming up the pipes because I know he'll need some backup when he sings John Legend's "All of You" to his new bride later on today.