Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Classical Case of Copying

At a certain age, summertime means one thing: weddings.

This summer, I was asked to sing a duet in my good friends' wedding. The song they chose is not one that I knew or had sung before. No problem. I have time to learn it before the wedding.

My friends sent a music file with the accompaniment, and they also e-mailed me a copy of the lyrics, with notes about who sings which part.

The simple thing to do would be to print the lyrics straight off my e-mail program. Unfortunately, I don't own a printer. So, reverting to the long-lost art of handwriting, I found myself pulling out a sheet of college-ruled notebook paper, picking up that ancient writing device (a number two pencil), and beginning to copy the lyrics by hand.

As I glanced from screen to page and tried to write neatly, I realized a couple of things:

1) Handwriting really is a lost art. Even neat printing is rare these days. Think about the last time you saw someone with a legible signature that contained all the letters in their name (yes, yes, I know the security reasons, but is that really why everyone does it?).

2) Copying (active repetition) is a great memory tool. By the time I had printed the refrain three times, I no longer had to look at the screen to remember the words. After I made a mistake and had to write a line twice, that particular line was still running through my mind when I finished.

Reality check: Have I now resolved to uninstall MS Word from my computer and never purchase a printer? No.

I will be the first to admit that I love computers and printers. For speed, accuracy, and legibility, copy + paste is one of my favorite tools. Hitting "print" on a fifteen-page study guide has saved my academic life before more than one test.

Writing and copying by hand takes patience, steadiness, and hand-eye coordination. It's hard work. And yet, the benefits of setting the keyboard aside from time to time and picking up a pen and paper are also worth considering.

(For one, I could actually read the sticky note on my desk that begins "Urgent! Don't forget...").

I'll figure it out eventually....
...because everyday adventures can be classical opportunities too...

No comments: