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humor in the choral rehearsal

Kathy Bower's post "how to say this isn't working" gets me thinking about
humor in the choral rehearsal and how important it can be to maintain a
positive energy throughout a technical rehearsal. I.e., one way to tell a
chorus that something isn't working is "that would have been perfect...if
you were trying to do it wrong." Or when an alto section isn't projecting a
particularly low part, "altos, let's try that again.....this time like
mountain women" or "this time like women of the earth".

What other humorous sayings do you use in your choral rehearsals that are
effective? If there are enough singular responses to me personally, I'll
post a compilation.

Thanks!

Andy Buscemi
abuscemi(a)ecmea.org





on September 11, 2007 4:31am
At 9:12 PM -0400 9/10/07, Andy Buscemi wrote:
>
>What other humorous sayings do you use in your choral rehearsals that are
>effective? If there are enough singular responses to me personally, I'll
>post a compilation.

I actually think that if anyone uses the same
response over and over, it becomes a cliché
quickly. I find that being spontaneous works
best for me, rather than having a collection of
memorized "pickup lines"! Anything becomes old,
over time.

John


--
John R. Howell
Virginia Tech Department of Music
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034
(mailto:John.Howell(a)vt.edu)
http://www.music.vt.edu/faculty/howell/howell.html




on September 11, 2007 4:32am
I think part of using humor in a rehearsal is somewhat limited, in that it's part of the trusted bond between director and singers. Doesn't always cross-over between groups -- not even if the groups have the same director.

Having said that, I always refer to middle harmonies (esp. in 3-pt) as the "creamy filling". But then again, I'm big on food analogies... and most of the time I'm working with singers around dinner time (or at least dessert). I'd tell you more, but as my ladies say, "What happens in Belle Voci, *stays* in Belle Voci". ;) (insert laugh track here)

Heather KinKennon
bellevocidorate(a)gmail.com




on September 11, 2007 9:11am
>>I actually think that if anyone uses the same
response over and over, it becomes a cliché
quickly.
My high school students love the squeaky dog toy, and it never gets old. Sometimes their heads get buried in the music and forget to watch, but they perk up when I squeak the toy.

Scott Wickham
Centaurus HS
Lafayette, CO




on September 12, 2007 4:51am
Our director, who shall remain nameless, very occasionally -- say 2-3
times a decade -- might say "nice try sopranos"

Andy Buscemi wrote:
> What other humorous sayings do you use in your choral rehearsals that are
> effective? If there are enough singular responses to me personally, I'll
> post a compilation.
>
>
>
Charles Jonah
chuck(a)charlesjonah.org




on September 12, 2007 4:57am
"I find that being spontaneous works best for me, rather than having a
collection of
memorized "pickup lines"! " John


Of course, the improvisation is the best when we are talking about humor,
but as in Jazz, the improvisation is the product of many years of studying
and practicing. Maybe borrowing pickup lines and ideas from others is the
beginning of our own funny lines. In rehearsal time, I use many humorous
situations. Some of them (the most) are spontaneous, but sometimes, when the
atmosphere is getting dense, I intentionally make a joke, a comment, a
gesture, or do anything funny to make the choir relax (and me too!). I
believe that humor is vital to the life, and if music is part of our life,
we must integrate it to it. When the conductor is relaxed and confident, the
choir responds the same way. Humor make us look and being relaxed and
confident.

Two weeks ago, a leader from a church choir that I conduct substituted me in
a rehearsal. Everything went excellent, but at the end of the rehearsal, one
of the sopranos said that although the rehearsal was OK, they missed my
jokes. (All of them laughed). For them, humor is already part of the
rehearsal.

So, keep using humor in rehearsal time (and in life). Borrow some, improvise
the most, but keep laughing. Blessings.

Julio González-Paniagua
General Pastor
Primera Iglesia Bautista de Santurce
San Juan, Puerto Rico
musikdei[at]caribe.net




on September 12, 2007 4:57am
At 9:12 PM -0400 9/10/07, Andy Buscemi wrote:
>
>What other humorous sayings do you use in your choral rehearsals that are
>effective? If there are enough singular responses to me personally, I'll
>post a compilation.

Hi all

I've never replied to a Choraltalk email before, although I have enjoyed the
collective wisdom greatly. This question made me think, so here goes:

I'm a Kodaly teacher and we use affirming language a great deal in order to
make the classroom (and choir rehearsal) a safe place in which to sing and
take risks. I also like to keep a light-hearted tone most of the time, so I
use humour fairly liberally - besides, music is enjoyable.

So, when I give feedback to the choir it is frequently couched in praising
terms but only that which is praiseworthy and at all times with an
encouraging smile, not snidely. I think people (from young children to
adults) always respond to a genuine comment, rather than a glib answer, said
for a laugh. The latter can make people feel they are the butt of a joke,
which is unhelpful.

For example: "Your entry was made with great confidence - now let's work on
getting the notes correct..." Or: "The intonation is good but let's phrase
it as musicians"; "Beautiful singing, Year 2, now can we clap the rhythm
musically and get rid of the performing seals?"

A little physical humour is very useful too to overemphasise articulation or
dynamics. It helps me to be the one making a fool of myself, and the others
feel safe? - maybe that's an Australian thing?

I agree that humour is vital to keep interest maintained but it is the
leaven in a hard-working rehearsal.

My 2 cents (AUD)
Wendy Rolls
Brisbane, Australia
wendyro[at]northnet.com.au




on September 12, 2007 4:57am
At choir camp the altos (us) were not loud enough in one section and the
conductor told us to be Brunhildes. It worked!

Jayne
JayneOlson[at]ns.sympatico.ca




on September 12, 2007 10:00am
On 2007/09/12, at 6:49, Charles Jonah wrote:

> Our director, who shall remain nameless, very occasionally -- say 2-3
> times a decade -- might say "nice try sopranos"

In a similar situation with the tenors last night, our director simply
said "Oops!" -- in all fairness the tenors were sight-reading new music
and it suddenly swooped up higher than they expected. ;-)

Doreen Simmons
jz8d-smmn(a)asahi-net.or.jp




on September 12, 2007 8:02pm
(comments seen on a webpage some time ago)
Some of you are very eager to sing that... wrong.
You sound like you need more denture grip.
I HOPE no one comes in there. It'll cost you $10 an entrance.
(after a long silent pause) ...Do you know where we are?
I would like to have an electrical connection - during the performance -
so I can buzz you whenever I want you to look at me.
Well, that is sounding, um, as we say down south: "it gets soggier &
soggier."
The sopranos are all alone there. Anyone else who comes in there is a
Total Nerd.
That was basically wretched.
It has dawned on me how few rehearsals we have between now and the
concert, and so I've turned nasty.
You sang a C there with great authority, and nothing to back it up.
Let's see if the tenors have any memory at all.
Do it again. I don't trust you.
The performance is Thursday. It would be nice to see you there.
There are three kinds of tenors in the world. And I'll tell you about
them if you ask me privately.
You'd be surprised at what I'm thinking up here.
Here is a tip: if you sounded like a chicken, you goofed.
When I look at you, I see mules wearing blinders, to keep you from being
distracted by any conductors.
Come on, tenors. Sound like men.
This is a total, total autocracy. And I am the autocrat.
--
Bruce Fletcher
Stronsay, Orkney

"I’m sorry, you have reached an imaginary number. Please rotate your
telephone 90 degrees and dial again"




on September 12, 2007 8:02pm
I always enjoy the witty critique, even if it's repeated from time to time.

I've had conductors ask: "Again, this time with consonants", or "this time
in English" (when we're already in English).

I wish I could remember these better for my own use, so thanks for this
thread.

Ray Klemchuk
ray(a)wscongo.org
First Congregational Church of Western Springs (IL)




on September 12, 2007 8:02pm
When we read something I know will be difficult, right before the downbeat I say "OK, good luck!"

As with comedy, it's all in the...

This way they know not to get too frustrated about what will happen and that all I want is good faith effort. They end of surpriseing themselves and me most of the time!

-brian dehn
orange, ca
bcedehn(a)aol.com

....timing







-----Original Message-----
From: Doreen Simmons
To: CHORALTALK-L(a)LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU
Sent: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 7:15 am
Subject: Re: [CHORALTALK-L] humor in the choral rehearsal









On 2007/09/12, at 6:49, Charles Jonah wrote:?
?

> Our director, who shall remain nameless, very occasionally -- say 2-3
> times a decade -- might say "nice try sopranos"?
?

In a similar situation with the tenors last night, our director simply
said "Oops!" -- in all fairness the tenors were sight-reading new music
and it suddenly swooped up higher than they expected. ;-)?
?

Doreen Simmons?

?jz8d-smmn(a)asahi-net.or.jp?
?


?






________________________________________________________________________
Email and AIM finally together. You've gotta check out free AOL Mail! - http://mail.aol.com





on September 13, 2007 4:32am
I find that humor is inseperable from the choral rehearsal... in fact, its one of my favorite parts!!

I prefer to listen for mistakes.... over-imitate what they have done (over-exaggerate a little), they usually laugh at this, and then demonstrate the right way for them. Then they think what they did before was so silly, that they really want to get it right, and they DO!!

I'm still just starting out with teaching (only 2nd semester)... but I can't recommend enough to find the humor in yourself, as well as the music... ask: why did the composer do this? Well, most composers are crazy or a little loony :-) so try to get into their heads, and point out something interesting in the music that they've written... Find some humor in the way the composer has set the text. Even if it is a serious text... you can still figure out a way to convince to the choir by imitating the "wrong way" they are doing it, and demonstrating the "right way".

I guess thats my big thing that ends up incorporating humor... really over-doing and exagerrating their mistakes... they enjoy this and laugh and think "oops, we DID sound silly didn't we" and then demonstrate the correct way, and point out how good is COULD sound if they did, then they are motivated, and ready to nail it for you...

There is something to be said about humor in warm-ups.... don't do the boring, standard warmups.... come up with, or seek out warm-ups that are fun to sing! just make sure there is some pedagogical value in the warm-up.... humor and pedagory, a wonderful combination!! Thats how I won over my kids the first few rehearsals... made the warm-ups fun, useful, and good for vocal ped!

This is coming from a first year high school choral conductor!! but I am loving it so far!! Have a great year everybody,,, remember to not be afraid to laugh at yourself!

Dan Beal
York Suburban High School
Choral Director
York, Pa
daniel.beal[at]yahoo.com




on September 13, 2007 4:34am
I've been watching this thread as an idea hatched. Now I just want
to say it: we're assuming that we know our groups and are assessing
whether they actually think this stuff is funny, right? I've sung
under conductors whose blistering sarcasm certainly motivated you to
try not to screw up, and if asked, they would say they were using
"humor in the choral rehearsal." But the combined effect of the
zingers was not really affirming or building a relationship between
the conductor and choir, it only served to widen the chasm they
seemed to want there. I know a lot of this goes without saying
among seasoned members of this list, but in case there are students/
neophytes reading this list, I just want to say that I tend not to
direct sarcasm or insults at the singers. I might make fun of myself
instead. Especially with younger singers, you have to really be sure
you know the group/section DOWN TO THE PERSON before you'd fire off
something like these three below.
Chuck Peery
St. Louis
cepeery(a)earthlink.net

On Sep 12, 2007, at 2:25 PM, Bruce Fletcher (Stronsay) wrote:

> Let's see if the tenors have any memory at all.
> Do it again. I don't trust you.
> The performance is Thursday. It would be nice to see you there.




on September 13, 2007 4:06pm
Regarding the comments Bruce posted from a website. I find the vast majority
of those comments not especially humorous or they are humorous at the
expense of the section or individual in the wrong. I would stay away from any
comments that are in the least bit belittling. We use humor all the time in
rehearsal but it is spontaneous and I have no canned lines other than the
occasional--"gee--he could have written it that way"---or "Oh my, that was VERY
interesting but not quite what we're looking for here". I use humor whenever we are
stressed out or taking ourselves too seriously. Most of the time I poke fun
at myself or use funny illustrations to get the sound I want such as
"gentlemen, I want this to sound like you are wearing full football gear and not
tutus." BTW I used this one last night and after the rehearsal the guys were
standing at the blackboard drawing something. I came over to investigate and found
that they had drawn a football play on the board with me as quarterback and
the accompanist as head coach. In practice our roles are probably the
reverse, but the men got my point and sang their entrance with gusto. Our church
choir is in transition as we have always struggled with finding enough men. As a
woman I know I must find better ways of connecting with the guys. Our new
organist is a huge help there. He also has a great sense of humor and because
he plays the accordion we are always trading jokes and good natured banter.
It's a small choir so I am very careful not to offend anyone with cruel humor
because the choir has history of individuals quitting at the slightest
offense. I've tried to change that culture and feel that after three years I am
finally making headway. I want people to leave rehearsal feeling confident,
inspired, and uplifted. In fact, in my rehearsal planning that is listed as a
primary goal. Of course we still have performance goals, but if I can meet the
primary goal the performance part falls into place naturally. As they say in
California, "Good cheese comes from happy cows."

Peace,
Jean



Jean Clark Caudill
Director of Music
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
393 Adams Street
Rochester, PA 15074
(724) 774-3792 church
(724) 650-9102 cell phone
Calicemsalutaris(a)aol.com




************************************** See what's new at http://www.aol.com





on September 13, 2007 4:07pm
I think one needs to be careful in using humor. So much of it depends on delivery. I have sung under conductors who were able to use it successfully. Others sound sarcastic and mean. As in so many other areas of conducting and teaching -- you can't just imitate everything you might see a workshop or clinic with a master teacher. You need to adopt the things that work with YOUR personality.
I think you can make a rehearsal enjoyable by sharing your love of the music and desire to reach the best performance that YOUR choir can achieve. If you are pleasant and enjoy the rehearsal so will your singers.
All the best,

Judith Higbee
Church of the Saviour
Cleveland Hts, OH
higbee(a)chsaviour.org








on September 13, 2007 7:12pm
Chuck Perry wrote:

"I've sung under conductors whose blistering sarcasm certainly motivated you to try not to screw up, and if asked, they would say they were using "humor in the choral rehearsal." But the combined effect of the zingers was not really affirming or building a relationship between the conductor and choir, it only served to widen the chasm they seemed to want there."

Having been accused many times in my career as being overly sarcastic, when (I thought) my intent was simply to inject some humor into the rehearsal, I appreciate Chuck's perspective. And being on the other side of the baton from time to time has often led me to observe that the conductor's attempts at humor were often counter-productive, in bad taste, or clearly offensive.

Most rehearsals have at least a couple of opportunities for spontaneous humor -- and often nothing needs to be said at all -- the situation just IS funny. I've come to think that there is a difference between humor related to the music, and humor at the expense of individuals or sections (even when it is well-intentioned). Sarcasm (my own included) can often by psychologically abusive, rather than motivating. So I try to listen to what I say BEFORE I say it, to determine if the comment is likely to have some positive (or at least neutral) result, or if it is motivated by a desire to show dominance (rather than leadership).

A very fine teacher gave me a new tool recently that I think will be useful. The tool is that, instead of blurting out everything that comes to mind, put at least some of your comments in "cartoon clouds" for your own private enjoyment, rather than actually saying things that you (or your choir) might wish you hadn't!

Charles Q. Sullivan
cqsmusic(a)hotmail.com




on September 13, 2007 8:02pm
How about humorous compliments as well? For example, I recall a
conductor who, when we did it right, would smile and ask us to do it
again to be sure it wasn't an accident.

Susan Deane
susiemuse(a)verizon.net




on September 13, 2007 8:03pm
Chuck makes a good point, but on the other hand, you can only speak from your own sense of humor.

For example, One of my "catch phrases" might be, when a part is redundant and boring, is to say "I know the part is repetitive, and redundant, and repetitive, and redundant, and it's like the same thing over and over, and redundant...." I have yet to have my group of Middle Schoolers really "get it." They just stare at me, like, "Yeah, it is!" At that point, I'll usually throw in, "...I'm just gonna keep saying it until you all get it."

A lot of my "humorous comments" (note the quotes) come from trying to be "positive" while also informing them as to what needs fixing. Things like...

"That was beautiful! Wrong, but Beautful."

or

"That was a lovely harmony! Problem is, it was supposed to be unison."

"Nice Volume, guys, nice and loud. Mozart wanted it soft, though."

Finally, My motto, and great words of encouragement, especially for middle school boys:

"Gentlemen, remember, Falsetto is your friend!"

Carl J Ferrara
E.W>Miles Middle School, Amityville, NY
Rb4uris(a)yahoo.com




on September 13, 2007 8:04pm
At 3:49 PM -0400 9/12/07, bcedehn(a)AOL.COM wrote:
> When we read something I know will be difficult, right before the
>downbeat I say "OK, good luck!"
>
>As with comedy, it's all in the...

That's great for rehearsal, but a little scary in performance!!!
Some years back we were presenting Monteverdi's "L'Incoronatione de
Poppea" up at Aspen. Our Seneca was a local car dealer whose main
recommendation was a low bass voice suitable for a Roman Senator and
a solid low D, but who could have used radar to find the beat. As we
entered the pit for the act in which Seneca is praised by his
followers before taking poison, our conductor (Fiora Contino)
whispered to us, "Hang on, folks; it's going to be a rough crossing!"
And it was, but thanks to Fiora's great instincts we brought it off
and even almost ended together. Deo gracias!

John

P.S. ... timing.


--
John R. Howell
Virginia Tech Department of Music
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034
(mailto:John.Howell(a)vt.edu)
http://www.music.vt.edu/faculty/howell/howell.html




on September 13, 2007 8:07pm
I agree that belittling volunteer singers won't work. One comment that has
stood me in good stead in all my teaching activities came from the driving
instructor I had many, many years ago: "That was excellent! Now let's do it
again in case it was a fluke."

I am not a driver for the same reason I am not an organist -- somehow I never
have two hands and two feet at the same time; but the idea of reinforcing a positive
experience has always worked well for me.



Doreen Simmons
jz8d-smmn(a)asahi-net.or.jp




on September 13, 2007 8:08pm
Dear list,

Sarcasm means "to tear flesh". I believe sarcasm does create a gulch
between conductor and choir.

Ben Allaway
Des Moines, Iowa
benlmnop(a)aol.com



************************************** See what's new at http://www.aol.com





on September 13, 2007 8:08pm
>>you have to really be sure you know the group/section DOWN TO THE
PERSON
So very true. Even if there is one person or a small group with whom
you have a great rapport and enjoy bantering, there might be one person
who is strongly affected by your comments even if they aren't directed
at him or her. I believe sarcasm should be avoided. Comments that were
made in jest and laughed about have come back to haunt me months (or
years!) later when a relationship begins to worsen, and the student
chooses to use it as ammunition against me.

Scott Wickham
Centaurus HS
Lafayette, CO
scott.wickham[at]bvsd.org




on September 13, 2007 8:08pm
I am in total agreement-there is a fine line between humor and sarcasm. In today's societal climate many comments would be construed as nasty and insensitive I use a lot of self deprecating humor so I become the brunt of the joke not my students. I try to avoid anything that might make someone uncomfortable. Most likely there are students who realize they sang the error. I try to make students feel comfortable, I tell them mistakes need to be made and heard and no one sings a wrong note on purpose. Furthermore, if there was nothing left to find in error I would be out of a job. I've taught many years and want my classroom to be a safe place not one they fear to make a mistake in - since singing is such a vulnerable activity and these are kids not adults (I have an adult choir and I take the same approach) Do I use humor absolutely but never at the expense of a section, row, or individual.


Carolyn Lokken
Grand Island Senior High School
1100 Ransom Road
Grand Island, NY 14072
carolynlokken(a)aol.com




on September 14, 2007 4:19am
Carl J. Ferrara wrote:

> Finally, My motto, and great words of encouragement, especially for middle
> school boys:
>
> "Gentlemen, remember, Falsetto is your friend!"

I have been following this thread with interest, as humor is something I use
quite often with my treble boys choir, ages 8 - 13 in all of our choirs.
The choir I actually conduct has our most advanced boys, aged 10 - 13.

This age group of boys, who at times seem to be from a different planet,
appear to thrive on the humorous approach to correction, but never at their
expense. I too, use myself as the 'brunt of the correction' and this type
of correction has proven most useful...sarcasm has never worked and negative
'putdowns' never help either.

I have been directing all boy choirs for over 30 years and am now interested
in your opinion(s) about the use of humor as it relates to age and gender;
private versus public choirs. Do you feel that you can use humor in
differing degrees with children as opposed to adults - community based
choirs as opposed to public or private school choirs?

My assumption is that we value the individual no matter what the age or
situation. Your thoughts please?

Bill Adams, Artistic Director
Fort Bend Boys Choir of Texas
wra(a)fbbctx.org




on September 14, 2007 4:22am
I'm generally not that funny, but here are some things I've said that
get at least a chuckle or a smile:

(Plagiarism warning: I don't remember which of these are "borrowed" and
which are originals)

It's B-flat, but not that flat.

Tenors: Please get on your chair, peel your larynx off the ceiling, and
let's try that again...with less fortitude.

(When no one follows a conducting gesture) Hey, I paid about $40,000 to
learn that trick...Please tell me I didn't waste my money.

(When no one or few come in at the beginning of a section, I shake my
baton) I think the batteries are dying in this thing.

If "in tune" was a dollar, you'd have about 95 cents. (Paul Nesheim)

This is a great thread. I'm saving every email from it!

Garrett Lathe
Sartell Choirs

www.sartellchoirs.org

Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota
www.youthchorale.org




on September 14, 2007 8:56am
Bill Adams wrote:

"I have been directing all boy choirs for over 30 years and am now interested in your opinion(s) about the use of humor as it relates to age and gender; private versus public choirs. Do you feel that you can use humor in differing degrees with children as opposed to adults - community based choirs as opposed to public or private school choirs?"

There are only two kinds of people: those who think there are two kinds of people, and those who don't. In dealing with the humor/sarcasm question, it is probably better to assume that there is only one kind of people: those who expect respect.

Perhaps the gender and age of the director has as much bearing on this as does the makeup of the choir. The longevity of the director in the organization or larger community, and his/her reputation as a positive influence, will also affect how humor is perceived. And certainly responses or reactions do vary over different generations and social settings.

But overall, I have found that all-male groups tend to be less likely to take offense than all-female groups. In my experience this has been particularly true with middle school and junior high groups (and even that has changed over time with earlier physical/emotional maturation). Something that males might take offense at on the spot is likely to be forgotten by the next day, where females are more likely to carry the perceived hurt much longer. Part of that may be a result of the tendency for females to seek peer support for their feelings (and therefore potentially escalate the situation), while males are more likely to deal with such things individually.

Of course, there are always exceptions, and sometimes hidden agendas. I recall a perhaps ill-advised use of humor with an 8th grade baritone many years ago that escalated into a major incident -- not because the boy was offended, but because his mother was in the midst of a battle with the school about totally unrelated issues, and chose to use this situation as ammunition. As was pointed out to me, even self-deprecating humor can quickly become self-defecating, if you aren't absolutely certain of how the wind is blowing.

Or, with apologies to this year's winner of the Burlington Liar's Club competition:
There are only three kinds of people: those who are good at math, and those who aren't.

Charles Q. Sullivan
cqsmusic(a)hotmail.com






on September 14, 2007 4:04pm
One of my favorites from Robert Shaw ... "Yes, the notes are
difficult, but no more so than the ones we're singing."

Dean M. Estabrook
d.esta(a)comcast.net

http://deanestabrook.googlepages.com/home

>>>> Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?




on September 14, 2007 4:04pm
At 9:27 AM -0500 9/13/07, Charles Q. Sullivan wrote:
>Chuck Perry wrote:
>
>"I've sung under conductors whose blistering sarcasm certainly
>motivated you to try not to screw up, and if asked, they would say
>they were using "humor in the choral rehearsal." But the combined
>effect of the zingers was not really affirming or building a
>relationship between the conductor and choir, it only served to
>widen the chasm they seemed to want there."
>
>Having been accused many times in my career as being overly
>sarcastic, when (I thought) my intent was simply to inject some
>humor into the rehearsal, I appreciate Chuck's perspective. And
>being on the other side of the baton from time to time has often led
>me to observe that the conductor's attempts at humor were often
>counter-productive, in bad taste, or clearly offensive.

I, too, have gone through periods of sarcasm, but I hope that I have
mellowed out. Just got out of a good rehearsal (small baroque
orchestra) that generated a good amount of humor. Four wind players
were sightreading and my concertmaster is out sick, so there were
plenty of opportunities to comment/encourage/correct things, and I
tried to pay attention to what I was saying and to note the response.
When a section has given way to entropy and fallen apart, everyone
knows it, and knows they can do better, and they respond well to
low-key comments, with smiles and increased attention to the details.
I think what makes it work is that it's more an "us" thing, as in,
we're all in this together.

In my present situation I don't get either the best singers or the
best instrumentalists to work with, but the flip side is that they're
there because they want to be, because they enjoy exploring early
music, or just because they respond to the kind of comeraderie the
ensemble has developed over the years (including, at the moment,
three fairly seriously committed couples). It's a good bunch, and
while I'm quick to make corrections they know I respect them and
appreciate having them there. The way I like to put it to
prospective members is that we take our music seriously, but not
necessarily ourselves.

John


--
John R. Howell
Virginia Tech Department of Music
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034
(mailto:John.Howell(a)vt.edu)
http://www.music.vt.edu/faculty/howell/howell.html




on October 10, 2007 3:46am
I have seen it so many ways. Myself, I try to just make music. If a section or member of the group, or myself for that matter, makes an error, chances are they know they did it. They dont need anyone to soften the blow. They are there to sing, and its my job to make sure they do. Page, score, measure, beat..tell, show, do.
Some directors have been funny. Some have wasted precious time with their jargon that has more to do with life than music.
Get the notes, and the mystery will follow.
I have also seen directors who were well meaning, really sour some relationships with their sarcasm, dry humor, and unsought advice.
I was told to come down from "Analogy Mountain" a long time ago.
Just make music. Save the joking and stories for snack time or the choir picnic.
Just make music.

scott mcvey
cscottmcv73(a)yahoo.com




on October 10, 2007 2:12pm
I myself HAVE to have humor in my rehearsals. If I'm a singer and the director doesn't supply it, then I supply the humor myself. As a well-educated amateur singer, yes, I know when I goof up, but, like Mary Poppins said, the bitter goes down a lot easier with " a spoon full of sugar." Treat my choir as dryly as is described below and I would not have a choir.

Craig

Craig C. Hawkins
Teacher, Conductor, Composer/Arranger
Tenor and Violinist
Director of The Celebration Choir
Our Saviour Lutheran Church
Endwell, New York
MusicCndctr (at)yahoo (dot)com

----- Original Message ----
Subject: Re: [CHORALTALK-L] humor in the choral rehearsal

I have seen it so many ways. Myself, I try to just make music. If a section or member of the group, or myself for that matter, makes an error, chances are they know they did it. They don't need anyone to soften the blow. They are there to sing, and its my job to make sure they do. Page, score, measure, beat..tell, show, do.




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