“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” Mark Twain
In contrast to January’s Alfred Lord Tennyson quotes I thought I would take my cue from that most American of authors, Mark Twain, to unify my Blogs for February. Mr. Twain says plainly what we all think but are not often able to articulate succinctly. Perhaps that is something to blog about itself!
That time of year for conferences, All-States and workshops is fast approaching. I am sure many of you will attend something. All-State was last weekend here in the Great State of Illinois. This year ACDA’s regional conferences are the beginning of March. Many of you will go to one or more but have you asked yourself WHY you go?
Do you attend to connect and network with friends and colleagues? Do you want to learn something new or “deep dive” into something old? Do you go to keep up with the latest music or research or gossip? Do you want to see certain vendors who will be attending? Do you go because you can, or are you required to attend by your academic institution or arts organization? Do you attend certain conferences because they are held near friends or family or and an attraction you would like to visit? Or do you attend for other reasons? Again, there is no right or wrong answer.
Chauncey* tells me he goes to All State every year, in spite of snow or cold, because he’s gotten into the habit of going. It wouldn’t be late January/early February if he DIDN’T attend. It’s a chance to reconnect with friends and colleagues across the state and learn something new. Chauncey says he always learns something. Most years, he brings students but occasionally, he doesn’t. There are years it is a hassle or he’s not feeling up to it or he has other things he should be doing, he still goes. While there, he forgets the day-to-day things he always worries about and concentrates on being there fully. He enjoys the presentations and watching rehearsals. He loves the concerts and seeing old friends as well as making new friends. He tells me he always feels refreshed after All State, no matter how stressed and frazzled he was before. The main reason he goes is for that very reason; the refreshed and revitalized way he feels AFTER.
Debra* attends the ACDA regionals and ACDA Nationals because she is expected to do so by the Liberal Arts college where she teaches. More than that, she LOVES TO ATTEND! She encourages the student ACDA chapter at her college and even requires students to join ChoralNet for several of her classes. She was never active in ACDA in college, herself, and wonders why her university didn’t encourage membership or conference attendance.
After an especially brutal first semester, George* was NOT looking forward to ACDA that year. As a Choral Ed major, he was required to get on the bus and sing with his college’s choir. After, he could attend a few presentations and concerts, then get back on the bus for home. He was not feeling great but, he followed through. The rest, as they say, is history. George met his future wife, also a Choral Ed major, at a presentation by a fairly famous conductor. They corresponded, in those days before the internet, by mail and the occasional phone call and, it so happened, ended up at the same graduate program. They’ve been together 45 years. George wonders what his life would be like if he had decided NOT to go that year.
Attending a conference can be a hassle. Here in the northern hemisphere, the weather is not always great during the times they are scheduled. But we learn, we network, we meet new people and our usual schedule is disrupted. Attending a conference does not seem like work, but play, and we are able to continue on, revitalized.