Photograph of Charlyn Bethell and Guy UrbanI remember preparing for the first time singing/playing Missa Gaia, the Mass for the Earth by Paul Winter and others.  It was to be my special project as a requirement to be a credentialed music leader through the then, UUMN (Unitarian Universalist Musicians’ Network).  Choir members had learned some challenging music, we had instrumentalists as part of our performance.  We had aligned ourselves with local “Green” organizations such as Trees for Watertown and Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment.  This was a concert presentation on a Saturday evening.  Certainly, it was an event, with myself at the helm, conducting it with an actual baton that I had to buy.  All the preparations were in place, and I was feeling rather small.  All the things one does as a conductor I questioned my ability to do:  get the right speed or tempo for each song, look up to encourage singers and players, give people cues for entrances, and give the right cut-offs to the group.  Just prior to the concert, my advisor to the program emailed me the one missing ingredient for me.  She said, “Courage”.  Just what I needed!   That word said to me that I could leave myself behind, get in the music zone and communicate the messages that the music intended for us.  The event was a success.  Perhaps one needs courage to reach outside the boundaries of what one thinks one can do.  After doing that, I felt the freedom to stay in that “beyond comfort zone”. 

Courage brings growth.  Courage is not comfortable. Courage can be shared, giving affirmation to those around us.  Because you did something you thought you could not do means that you can do it again.  You can keep courage with you every day.  What you need Courage for can change, depending on what you are doing or thinking about.

When do you need Courage?   What gives you Courage?  Who helps you develop Courage?  If needing Courage is not something you tend to talk about, maybe you can change that!  Courage can be shared and maybe it works best that way. 

Our choir is now preparing for Music Sunday on November 6th.  We decided to have two Music Sundays this year and this is the first.  As of right now, I am still working on the title for this service, which has to include the ideas of change and the essential quality of art and music in our lives, as inspired by Rev. Mariela Pérez-Simons from Rev. Sophia’s Installation service.  We will be singing three songs:

An Die Musik by Franz Schubert and with help from Jean Renard, we are singing it in German
No Time arranged by Susan Brumfield, a collection of camp meeting songs
Benediction by Elizabeth Norton, the music director of the Concord UU church

See you in church!

Charlyn Bethell
Music Director | + posts

Charlyn’s professional training has followed two paths: as a professional oboist and as a music teacher and conductor. As Music Director at First Parish, she joins these two paths of her musical life, conducting the choir, coordinating guest musicians, and performing on oboe.