Mr. Twyner, as I recall, you served as musical director for the Episcopal Youth Group Winds of the Spirit in their production of Babes in Arms. I met you in that production. You taught me to trust my voice and helped me improve my range. More importantly, I was having some problems at the time, and you invited me to attend Murrah for my senior year to be part of the Murrah choir in ‘83/’84, I think. I did just that, and it unforgettable experience.
You taught me so much, Mr. T. There was the musical part of it, of course; you helped improve my sight reading skills, taught us how to breathe and sing and how to shape our mouths to get that resonant, polished sound. You taught me so much about the creative process, too, in the way that we broke down each choral piece into bars and measures, going over them over and over, taking your direction and hearing the difference, then putting it al together—that’s the creative process in its purest form. You shaped our sound in real time and turned us into a real choir. That December, we went to sing at the lighting of the national Christmas tree in Washington, DC, where we performed two or three songs on the steps of the Capital and Tip O’Neill mispronounced our name. It was the first time I was in DC and it was a blast.
You also shaped us as people, brought us together and taught us how to work together as one, in a way I had never experienced before. I loved going to your class. Whatever drama I was having I left at the door to the choir room. You were always energetic, entertaining, and so enthusiastic about the music and about us. And funny, did I mention funny?? You were a HOOT as a teacher. There was so much humor and positive energy in your class. You expected greatness of us, and knew how to help us get there.
The music was healing, and the experience of singing with others was electric to me. It felt like I was part of something bigger. The precise enunciation and gospel energy of “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho” always lifted my spirits. The solemn reverence of “Kyrie Eleison” was so soothing to sing. At the end of our performances, we would walk down the aisles, surround the audience, and sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”. It gave me chills every single time. Being part of the Murrah Singers meant so much to me and to us all. I still have the Murrah Singers dress my grandmother sewed for me. I’ll never part with it.
I had that experience because you gave it to me. Singing in the Murrah Singers was one of the most valuable things I’ve ever done, and it was because you included me. Thank you so much for letting me be part of the Murrah Singers. It was one of the highlights of my life. I’ve worked in the creative field my whole career, and I use the very same creative process you taught us in the Murrah Singers. You taught us music, but I know now what you were really doing was ministering to us.
You helped me through that tough time and I took what you taught me into the adventures that followed. Thank you for the chance to tell you how much you mean to me, Mr. T, and how grateful I am to know you.
The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make His face shine upon you
And be gracious unto you
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you
And give you peace.