CMS Staff Member Rebecca Drury Voices role in Musical Ancestries - Thailand

DruryListen carefully to the latest Musical Ancestries™ featuring the music and culture of Thailand and you may hear a familiar voice! Rebecca Drury, Community Music School building coordinator for the Leon Strauss Center in Faust Park, recorded the voice of this episode's teacher, Kru Dara.

Here are some of Drury's reflections on the experience in her own words (off the cuff):

On Read-Through viz Zoom

"During our group read-through on Zoom the week prior to recording, the sound engineer, Brandon La Meu, commented that he never reads Kathy Lawton Brown’s scripts ahead of the group reading, as he wants to have completely 'fresh ears' for how the text flows. It helps him to share notes later with Kathy for what needs to be adjusted to improve the overall flow of the program. 

"It was a neat experience to read through the edited script that Kathy had composed. The one I read from was the eighth rendition overall. Her research and level of details for each of these programs is phenomenal!"

"After our group had read, which included me as the teacher role and the two younger boys as students, Kathy liked the work everyone was doing so much, that she decided to divvy out more of the script to both the boys and I, to keep a variety in the sounds and give the others more to say.

"We all enjoyed being on that session together. To my knowledge, this was a first-time experience for the three of us (the students and me)."

Calming Nerves before Recording

"One of the office staff checked me into the studio before the others arrived and caught me saying that I was nervous about recording. Before I went in, she said, 'Everyone who does this the first time goes in feeling nerves, but they ALL come out saying what a great time they had! Kathy and Brandon do an amazing job at making everyone feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible. They will make it fun! You’ll be great!'”

"When we sat down to record in the studio, it was just the three of us: me reading for Kru Dara, Kathy Lawton Brown feeding me lead-in lines of her narrator part, and Brandon LaMeu, the sound engineer."

"Kathy Lawton Brown and I could sense right away from the sounds of our voices that we are both singers. It was a neat surprise and bonus gift to make such a kindred spirit connection with her."

Drury noted that Brandon was the “wizard” behind the scenes who would edit everything together, and later include the music and all other reading parts. She commented on what a remarkable job he always does with this process, creating a seamless, beautiful effect from all parts combined.

"Hearing this helped me relax. She encouraged me that if we needed to, we could do re-takes of bits or segments as much as necessary. Brandon could even edit one word, if we needed to make those adjustments.

"We had a great time going back and forth with certain names of instruments or ensembles. She had just spoken the day before with a member of a Thai cultural group in St. Louis, who had coached her on specific pronunciations. With that new knowledge, she would say things with the proper lilt or inflection, then I would repeat it back a number of times until I mimicked her. Then, I would go back into the script reading and recording, adding in the pronunciations as best as I could."

"When we would get through a line or paragraph that sounded good to Brandon’s ears and didn’t need to be redone, they would look at each other, nod, and agree to keep going. 'Sounds good! Let’s go on!'

Adjusting during Recording

"Within the recording process, it was fun that when certain lines didn’t seem natural upon hearing, we would tweak the text here and there to make it sound closer to what a normal person would say. I enjoyed doing this on the fly and trying different ways of saying things. It was evident that Kathy and Brandon have worked together a long time and know how to collaborate well creatively.

"Kathy remarked at one point how it seemed natural for me to pick up pronunciations with relative ease, and we agreed as singers that this process has always been a part of our training and approach to music. The habit translated into this voice work and recorded speech in surprising ways!

"I shared at one point that I’ve always been very dedicated to getting pronunciations right. Language fascinates me and I love how varied it is across cultures worldwide, along with the nuances of similarities to discover between similar languages or specific words.

"Working with our former director Carol Commerford in a completely different context was a treat. After the recording, she and I enjoyed a half-hour catch-up chat in the hallway outside the studio. It was fun to hear about happenings in her retirement, and neat to see how passionate she is about being the Education Director for Classic 107.3 and how much she’s enjoying this new role. She shared some good stories about other Musical Ancestries programs they’ve done."

Musical Ancestries™ provides FREE opportunities for teacher/adult-directed as well as independent student learning through podcast and online educational resources on the Classic 107.3 website with National Standards addressed. It works well in-person and virtually! The teacher-created learning resources that supplement Musical Ancestries™: Thailand with audio and video music samples, instruments, history, dance, geography, science, demos, hands-on activities and more can be found online:

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