Mr. Synan was my first music theory teacher when I was barely 18 years old and majoring in voice back in the fall of 1982. I’ll never forget the first day of class because he shared some interesting facts with us. One fact was that most of the time people really don’t pay attention to all the words in songs or even in church hymns. So, to this day I really try to listen to lyrics of songs even if the accompaniment is really catchy. And I especially pay attention to the words in Christian songs.
My favorite thing that he taught us, the very first thing, was to really pay attention during sight reading. For any of you singers out there, or anyone who loves The Sound of Music, he had us sight sing phrases using solfege, or do-re-mi, etc. I guess because we were freshmen, even on the first day, we wanted to impress the professor, so we seriously tried to sight read correctly what Mr. Synan put on the board. While we worked on the timing and the notes we didn’t realize what we were actually singing. We wondered why Mr. Synan grinned and then laughed until it finally hit us that we were singing mi-so-do-do (translation: me so dodo, or I’m so stupid.) So, I really learned why I should be aware of the words whenever I sing.
Over the years I’ve seen Mr. Synan at different church events with his wonderful wife Phyllis, and his sons Bert and Jim (Jimbo) who were also students at Emmanuel College when I was there. Many Emmanuel alumni are in the Synan family and I’m glad to be part of the Emmanuel College family.
Well, Mr. Synan, you will be missed by many students, colleagues, and family members. Thank you for making a difference!