Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

T is for Things Professors Say

Olubusola "Busola" Olukoya
September 10, 2014

Doc Locke, as he is fondly called, leads the indomitable Community Choir, which I've been privileged to participate in since my sophomore year. The choir rehearses for three hours on Wednesdays (which are also known as I-have-too-much-work-to-do days). The rehearsals are brutal. Stand up, sit down, shake yourself awake and try to hit those notes is my mantra in Community Choir, but Doc Locke is like the Energizer bunny, keeping us on our toes with his sharp wit and even sharper eyes. Our dedication to the choir, manifested in our alertness and perfect attendance, is rewarded with an A as well as with rib-cracking moments that I have recorded below.

There are moments when Doc Locke pushes us to be so inspired by what we are singing so that we forget our measly bodily needs for oxygen and rest.

  • "It's late in the hour, two days before [spring] break and you're all tired but I don't care. You have to sing it. It's Brahms."
  • "Do not breathe. There is plenty of time to breathe [at the rest] afterward. You have a whole measure where your diaphragm can go 'swoosh.' "
  • "Do not breathe. Oxygen is not necessary."

He encourages us when we stumble through the notes and makes us laugh when we just can't seem to get it right.

  • "Sopranos, you half-piped it. Do you watch the Olympics? You know, when they half-pipe it? Yes?"
  • "I know what you're thinking, altos: 'This is my range. I don't have to try as hard.' You were probably thinking that, right? You weren't? You probably weren't thinking at all."
  • "He ascended into Heaven and, sopranos, you sound like you watched someone miss the last rung of the ladder!"
  • "Sopranos, you sound like you dropped into a manhole there."

And when we struggle through Latin, German, Bulgarian, Zulu and even English pronunciations, he makes it so that we never forget the proper pronunciation or the meaning behind the words we are singing.

  • "There are many famous Latin people: Agnes (Agnus) dei ... Ed (Et) Vitam."
  • "Crucifixus etiam pro nobis." (Translation: Christ was crucified for us.) Doc signals for us to stop. "[That was] word painting that went beyond."

Doc makes learning to sing — sometimes in different languages — the most fun way to spend a Wednesday evening. This semester, I'm not in Community Choir. But while I wrestle with the required grant proposal for my neuroscience senior exercise on Wednesday nights, I will fondly recall all those wonderful evenings spent with Doc and will practice holding my breath for long periods for next semester's choir class. Until then, here is a compilation of the work we did last semester for Doc's 30th Anniversary with the Kenyon College Community Choir and a much treasured quote:

"Remember to think of the meaning in the words you're singing tonight and to communicate that to the audience. ... Think of our music tonight as a gift we are sharing with the world." — Doc Locke, before last semester's performance.