“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Francis of Assisi
Last week, we finished our Mark Twain February inspirations. For March, I thought quotes from a few Saints might help get us on the right track for the month.
Those of us with church positions began our yearly Lenten Journey last week. If we have an academic or community position, we will also soon begin our trek to the end of the semester or concert year. This is a busy time, with the occasional unplanned difficulty thrown in to keep us on our toes. And it’s how we prepare, as much as one can prepare, which can make or break us.
ChoralNetter Shanna’s* story (under rehearsed chorus but concert was okay) has appeared in the two previous Choral Ethics Blogs. She is a good example of handling an unplanned difficulty in the best possible way. We’ve been corresponding for around six weeks about her situation and each time we exchange emails, it becomes clear to me she has good instincts.
Last fall, she began working on the most difficult sections of her two large choral works. As rehearsals progressed, she added material before each section and after each section until she had the movement thoroughly rehearsed. When illness struck many of her singers, her chorus had a good chunk of the difficult portions under their belts, though she did not realize it. While she tells me her chorus’s concert was not quite up to their own standards, it was perfectly fine. And when she listened to the concert recording, it was better than she remembered. If you were to be put in to a situation similar to Shanna’s, how would you handle it?
The end of winter and the beginning of spring can present us with challenges, both weather-wise and health-wise. There is often a late snow storm or rain or other bit of inclement weather causing our singers or ourselves to miss rehearsals or even a concert or worship service. With the coronavirus possibility and regular colds and flu going around, there is a good chance something important will be cancelled or postponed this year. Are we prepared? And how DO we prepare?
We should begin rehearsals with what is most important for our concerts or worship services. If we are doing a cantata for Lent or Easter, we can tackle the most difficult portions first. Anything requested by our clergy or that is important to our ensemble should come next. Structure your rehearsals with the idea you will not be able to have every one you’ve planned and squeeze in as much as possible every rehearsal. Have a few pieces your chorus is familiar with which can be used as Plan B in the event rehearsals need to be cancelled. That way, if you need to cancel one or more rehearsals due to weather or illness, it won’t be as dire. And if you DO need to cancel a rehearsal, especially because of the weather or illness, do it without regret; your singers will thank you later.
Busy work should begin as rehearsals progress so if you are distracted by the unavoidable, it will be ready. Do as much preparation as you as able as early as you are able to keep things on track. There is still time to get ahead of things during Lent, so do what you need to soon. Then relax and take things as they come.