“Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.” Mark Twain
During the first two weeks of July, Choral Potpourri Blog focused on what you need and what you do. Today we’ll be thinking about our behavior inside of rehearsal. It’s easier to be objective when not actively in the midst of rehearsals or the academic year. While we are on break, it’s time to take a look at how our behavior impacts what we do and those we direct, both positively and negatively.
I’ve written about behavior before in this Blog, including both conductors/directors and choral singers behavior. I’ve spoken of what many perceive to be professionalism in rehearsal (terse, snarky and non-welcoming) and what a negative impact it can have on those we direct. I also have written about a more relaxed approach in rehearsal and how it can also have a negative effect. Nastiness, pettiness and small-mindedness have also been touched on in this Blog.
Many of you, I hope, use a cause and effect behavior scheme in your rehearsals. Sometimes called an “if/then” plan, it is a way of guiding behavior to a desirable conclusion by understanding most behaviors—both positive and negative—have a predictable outcome. For example; if you are clear in your instructions, then your chorus will know what you want and try to give it to you. Or, if you are confused in your instructions, then your chorus will be less able to discern what you want, flail around and waste time until they are able to figure out what you want. In this example, it behooves you to know what you want, be clear in your instructions and have a clear plan to get there.
Positivity and negativity also play a part in behavior. If you have a positive attitude about your chorus’s ability to do something, they will more than likely prove you right. If you have a negative attitude, they will ALSO more than likely prove you right. If nastiness and pettiness reign in your rehearsals, there will be an atmosphere of nastiness and pettiness in all aspects of your choral organization, not just in rehearsals.
The old, “reap what you sow” is true; if you are unhappy and project that image in rehearsal, your choir will reflect that unhappiness back to you. Are you fairly happy with your position and are able to project that to your choir? If you are not happy, are you able to at least not make it worse by your attitude? Many choral directors/conductors refuse to believe their behavior has anything to do with their choir’s behavior and ability to accomplish things in rehearsal and yet, it does
During a choir or academic year, it is impossible to be upbeat, happy and positive at all times. There are a few occasions snarky and cranky comments are called for. Impatience and disappointment are not usually the best way to get the job done, except when they are. We, as directors and conductors, need to have all sorts of tools in our bag of tricks including those perceived as negatives. The judicious use of those negatives can add much to get things accomplished. But we must take care not to over-do them.
Think about behavior and what you can do this fall to improve your rehearsals. Are you more positive or are you negative? Are you able to be objective with your own behavior? What can you do to be more productive by changing one thing this year? What should that one thing be? You tell me.