“Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control; these three alone lead life to sovereign power.” Alfred Lord Tennyson
January is such a good month for self-reflection. I hope the quotes of Alfred Lord Tennyson I have used this month for Choral Potpourri/Choral Ethics have gotten you thinking and reflecting about your own choral life.
I’ve written many a Blog here on ChoralNet encouraging my readers to learn what they need to be successful. By that I mean what YOU PERSONALLY NEED to have success. Do you thrive by organizing and researching repertoire? Or are you a “spur of the moment” type programmer? Do you need more sleep during concert week or can you survive with less, and an “adrenaline push,” to get through? Do eat before your rehearsals and concerts, or after? Do you need to be surrounded by people before a concert, chatting away? Or are you more of a solitary person who needs quiet? There is no right or wrong answer; just what is RIGHT FOR YOU.
As we begin the New Year, a new semester or concert cycle please think about what it takes for YOU to succeed. Notice trends and what makes you feel good. Then stick with those trends or adapt what works and accept as part of your process.
Damion* likes to program far ahead. He feels better when he knows what he is doing at least three years in advance. He makes long range plans for his community college choirs as well as his community chorus. He runs into trouble with his college choirs with his system because the student population changes from year to year and often from semester to semester. If he can’t count on having enough tenors for a divided SATB group, he can’t always program music he would like. So he has begun planning a reserve piece or two in the event he has enough singers in the college group. And, if he really wants to perform a certain piece, he programs the same piece for his community chorus and asks them to sing with his college group for their concert. This works out and everyone, including Damion, is happy.
JoAnne* needs eight hours of sleep a night to function properly, except during concert week. During concert week, she needs more. She realized her need for that extra sleep the first semester she taught. Instead of going to bed earlier or sleeping later, she finds taking power naps help a great deal. She squeezes in a twenty minute “nap” before she heads off for after school rehearsals. Instead of wasting time with her “power nap,” JoAnne believes it actually helps her get more things accomplished with the extra oomph she seems to have after. She thinks reserving her strength for performing and being quiet, not talking unless she has to, also helps.
Artie* has never liked to perform on a full stomach. He finds a piece of fruit, such a banana, or some raw carrots are just enough before big rehearsals or performances. If he eats more than that, he is nauseated and uncomfortable. He eats a lighter than usual meal right before bed and attends an occasional after-concert-party.
Damion, JoAnne and Artie all have had their ways of handling situations challenged by others. Damion realizes advance programming doesn’t work for everyone but it does for him. JoAnne has been called “lazy” and was accused of “wasting time” by a former colleague. Artie is still occasionally questioned when he eats lightly after a concert or grabs a banana before.
All three tell me they’ve come to understand themselves over a period of time and are confident in what they do is best for them. And all three are not swayed by others.