Much of my time last week and part of this week has been spent recording. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is recording the entire Handel's Messiah Oratorio for a release of early 2015. It is not my first recording with the the choir, but (so far), this one has been the most spiritually-charged recording project.

For many who are not familiar with the recording process, here is a glimpse into what is all involved. Some of it is going to be obvious, but I promise you that it will make sense why I mention it.

Even before the music is selected, a thought of an idea has to occur.It can be as simple as, "I would like to record Handel's Messiah"; A declaration of intent. After that decision is made, research is done on what has already been recorded and how the recording we want to do can add to the existing complement of recordings. The director needs to know of the piece, or learn very quickly of the music. It is his responsibility to make sure that the choir and orchestra know their parts are are better prepared to enter into the recording phase. The recording project is announced to the choir and then a series of practices happen where we, not only learn the music, but learn other skills needed to be successful in the recording. In the case of Messiah, we attended a workshop on baroque singing and melismas. This better prepared us for the harder pieces to be recorded.

As the recording date approaches, the audio department readies their equipment to make sure that all is ready and that the recording will occur seamlessly. The choir and orchestra polish up on their music. Day one of the recording is where the sound engineers set levels and practice recordings are made and analyzed. After it is deemed okay, the recording process begins.

Once may think that we enter into the recording project ready to record 14 pieces in one night. After all, to sing through them would take perhaps an hour. What really happens is we are recording 1 to 3 pieces per night. A music piece that typically might take 2 minutes to sing start to finish will take about an hour to record. We approach the recording in smaller chunks. As we sing those chunks, the sound engineers are listening and analyzing the sound. They often times hear things that the director cannot. The music chunk is sung/played sometimes up to 25 times. What constitutes a redo is anything from exterior noises (fire sirens outside), voices sticking out, music pitch, legibility of words, and attacks and releases. The chunk has to be "perfect" in the director's and sound engineers ears before we move onto the next chunk. Each chunk of music has usable things into it, where later the engineers will stitch takes together to form a wonderful cohesive sound.

Sometimes, it can seem discouraging to the singers/players that a chunk of music has to be done over and over. But it is a part of the recording process. In addition,. the choir is given constant, regular feedback and most of all - encouragement. Words such as, "you're doing great, keep it up" and "we are halfway done with this piece. It sounds wonderful." This gives us hope.

After our portion of the recording is done, there is still much to do behind the scenes that we are not fully aware of. Further recordings with soloists, mixing and mastering the music. The end result is the CD that we will see in early 2015. By then, many other projects will have occurred, such as Pioneer Concert, Christmas Concerts. The recording may become a blur to many, but when we have the CD in hand and listen to it, the flood of memories will open again. It is only then that we see that the all the work we put forth was really and truly worth it.

A recording project is a lot like our lives. We all lived in Heaven in the Pre-existence for, we don't know how long. There were many decisions made that involved us that we were not aware of, on our loving Heavenly Father knew them. He knows about these decisions because "Worlds without number have I created". In other words, He has experience in this. He called a grand council where we all were in attendance and presented the plan.

Now, I am surmising that after we all sustained the plan, and the part where Lucifer and his followers were cast out, we were given a series of "workshops" to prepare us for our earthly sojourn. We were taught of the tools that we have available to assist us. While we are not taught all things about mortality, we are given enough to help us grow and learn. As the time approaches that we are ready to embark on mortality, we are given final instructions.

We enter into this life as a baby - totally dependent on others to take care of us and teach us. We are not given all things, but perhaps one to three things where we learn to master them. But as we learn to master them, we have to sometimes learn and relearn things in order to be perfected in that area. Things that can put a hiccup into our journey are misdeeds. We cannot continue until we have repented of that misdeed and have forsaken it. Through repentance, we can become better perfected in that area by those experiences. Sometimes it may seem discouraging for us to have to learn and relearn even when we think it feels right, but only our Father in Heaven, who is perfect knows that we must continue to press on. We are given encouragement and counsel through the Lord's living Prophets and the Holy Ghost.

There is much that we may never know on this earth, but as long as we exercise faith in our loving Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, we will receive that ever-beckoning to "come unto Him". We may not live to see our full potential, but we can be assured that the final "prize" will be worth it. As we "graduate" from our mortal existence, we can once again see the "big picture". We continue to learn and grow. We can see that everything we have done on earth was worth it. But even in the after morality phase of eternity, we are given more assignments which will help us better to hone our skills, and to discover new skills that our Heavenly Father has for us to learn.

And if we have done absolutely everything that we have been tasked to do, we can become as the "directors and sound engineers" and start our own "recording projects" - because we have learned from the true Master.
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