ChorTeach is ACDA’s quarterly publication for choral conductors and teachers at all levels. It is published online, and each issue contains four practical articles. If you are not already a member of ACDA, you can join and receive access to ChorTeach online. Below is an excerpt from an article written by Jerome Upton an appearing in the Spring 2018 issue.
I love my job(s). I wouldn’t trade my profession for any other. It truly is wonderful to make music with students and adults that love to sing, but I’m exhausted after a day of rehearsals. By the time I get to Christmas with my family, I have almost forgotten what Christmas is about. I love my singers, but sometimes I just need to get away from them for a while.
Throughout my career, I have often reminded myself of the phrase, “Music is best when surrounded by rest.” I picked up that phrase in college when we were performing one of Paul Brandvik’s Madrigal Dinners at Bemidji State University (Minnesota). Brandvik used it as one of the punch lines from the jester in one of his scripts, but I find this phrase to be an important personal reminder as I strive to be an effective choral conductor. Lately I have been obsessed about the strategies choral conductors use to recharge and stay well in their profession.
I asked several choral conductors and other music teachers around my region this question, “What things do you do at home that keep you rested and healthy in your professional job?” In this article, I will share some of their suggestions. I am very appreciative of the people who offered them, and I hope you will consider them helpful. My wish is that many of you are already including some of these activities in your life. I also plan to try new activities that I haven’t experienced in the past.
Take a look: Get Outside for Fresh Air—Even in the Winter! Really?
Baby, it’s cold outside! Okay, so I tried this suggestion. On Christmas day in Waubun, Minnesota, it was -25 degrees. So I bundled up and went outside. Though I thought I would hate it, I actually loved it! The best part of this outdoor experience was the beautiful sun dogs that were surrounding the sun. I didn’t even notice the cold. I stayed outside for thirty minutes and walked down an old dirt road. It was so refreshing! I was hesitant at fi rst, but being of an open mind, I thought I would try it again. Two things came out of the experience: 1) I actually enjoyed being outside; 2) I am really bad about planning it. But since I did enjoy it, I am pledging this year to try and keep at it regularly.
Walk around the block two or three times each week. Do pushups at home. Even try jogging for three or four blocks. Easy does it if you are just beginning to jog.
Now this one I can handle—not a long nap but just enough to clear my head! It really would be nice to find twenty minutes every day for this idea, but it’s not realistic in my world.
Reading seems like an easy thing for most of you, I will bet, but not for me. I was such a poor reader in school and college. I used to measure my reading by how many pages I could read in one sitting. If I got to twenty pages (30, with pictures), I considered it a good read. I vowed some day to be a better reader, and I have gotten much better. What I didn’t expect was that I would ever enjoy reading as much as I do now. To me, it’s about what I read versus how much I read. Find literature with topics you like.
Read more in the Spring 2018 issue at acda.org/chorteach.