In addition to teaching music and later, giving some spacey NASA-ish talks at the RamboMemorial School, I am getting to work with the nurses and nursing students for about 40 minutes to an hour daily. They are so wonderful and so sweet! I see them all around the hospital in the afternoons and evenings and they are always smiling and ready to say a hello and chat a bit or help me understand what is going on with a patient. My music sessions are to help with their chapel services and provide some instruction that can make the small groups better when leading the congregational songs. I am also helping them to consider adding some prayers and Gospel message and/or a few minutes of a mini-sermon / the word / a testimony from someone to the chapel services. At present, there are some extremely lengthy songs, one psalm, the Lord's Prayer, and more singing. The pastor that used to be on staff left last year so the service has morphed slightly is more like a prayerful singing time than a structured service (which is completely fine). I am hearing that some would like to incorporate more prayers and some would like less verses in some of the many lengthy songs.
I am teaching them about head voice, chest voice, and different styles of singing (basically some of the the same lessons I am doing in the school classes.) The nursing group also doesn’t know how to read music, but I'm teaching them some basics so we will make some progress!
I noticed right away on the first day here in chapel that they sing everything by rote and most of the English songs are from a pretty terrible book of texts called “Adore”. I think they think that I know all 500 songs in there, but I don’t. I know very few “contemporary praise songs”. They may not change their whole way of singing, nor should they, while I’m here, but at least they will learn a bit about reading music and some new songs. I am thinking of how I can send them some newer hymnals and/or some more musical materials. My hope for the music instruction that I am giving is to present the tools to continued independent learning in music and maybe one or a few of them might choose to pick up an instrument one day. The hospital owns a keyboard in the library where we are holding chapel services (b/c of the rains and flooding in the actual chapel) and Dr. Anil Henry, the head of the Christian Hospital Mungeli, owns one which I took to the school. Dr. Henry sings very well! He also seems to really have a love for good music and music in any style done well. He listens to the singers at the chapel services and makes good comments when he gives his morning announcements. I like him because he has a vision for this hospital, vision for the nursing students (both to be good nurses and to be confident and independent women who know their options in jobs and in life), and he is a kind and gentle man with a twinkle in his eye that tells me he has a sense of humor and is very observant.
I love hearing the nurses and students singing in Hindi. I am in awe of the lengthy melodies and all of the ornamentation that I hear. The style of singing reminds me of what I heard in my many visits to Bulgaria and the throat singing styles which are loud and chesty. Many people say that it's "flat", but I have heard Bulgarian (and now Indian) choirs as well as many others, that sing perfectly in tune using the throat singing as long as each sectional part is in perfect unison. Sometimes, I hear microtones as well, adding to the already eastern tonalities. It really sounds cool! I have some video from a couple of the morning chapel services and when the internet is back in full force (or maybe when I get back home in August), I’ll post some videos of some cool Indian music sung by these lovely ladies.