“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.” Martin Luther
Throughout the month of October, we’re revisiting some of the staple issues of Choral Ethics. I’ve written a BUNCH about each of these subjects during the last few years. While most of us now rehearse and perform in a much different way, these issues remain at the center of Choral Ethics even now. Today we speak of Following Through. In one of my earlier blogs this month, I briefly mentioned one of my HUGE Pet Peeves is not following through. I can’t stand it and there’s a reason.
Twenty years ago, I waited for two months for an organization to contact me after I auditioned for a position. I heard nothing until I ran into a search committee member who couldn’t believe no one had contacted me. He apologized since he assumed everyone who auditioned would hear from them, one way or another. I had already accepted another job, so it didn’t matter, but I did agonize over what had happened. I have since learned this is how that organization does business; they tend to be arrogant, with a “we’re important and you’re not” attitude. Everyone, except their singers and board members, know this isn’t a good way to conduct business and yet, they still operate this way.
Yes, I am still talking about something that happened over twenty years ago. That organization could have dropped me a form letter or given me a call, that would have been the end of it, and we wouldn’t be talking about it twenty years later. They could have told me I would hear by a certain date if I DID get the job and would not hear back if I didn’t. That would have been fine too. But my time was not important to them, so they chose to not follow through.
In the five years I’ve been regularly writing Choral Potpourri/Choral Ethics, I’ve gotten a number of emails from folks experiencing a situation similar to mine. They auditioned or interviewed for a position or a singing or playing gig, everything was congenial, some felt they did well, or some felt they didn’t, but all had every expectation of hearing back. When they didn’t hear back, they were confused, wondering if they had done something wrong. I tell them they did nothing wrong and use it as a Life Lesson. In future auditions, ASK if you will be contacted one way or another and be a good sport if they tell you only those who make it will be contacted. And when they are in a position of conducting auditions themselves, ALWAYS remember how it felt to NOT KNOW and act accordingly.
When someone auditions for me, I always think back about how I felt during the two months I was in limbo. Did I get it? Did my answering machine drop the call? Was something lost in the mail? Several times, I thought I would contact the chair of the audition committee to see if they were waiting for a response from me, then thought better of it. When I ran into that search committee member and thought I’d ask, I was happy I did. I had been hired by my second job choice and got on with my life. But I always wondered WHY they couldn’t take the time to just tell me I didn’t get the position. The Kids call this “ghosting” but back then, we didn’t have a name for it.
Even during Pandemic Times, we should be responsible for following through. Answering emails, responding to texts, acknowledging voices mail are not that difficult or time consuming. So why don’t folks follow through? You tell me!
Until next week, be well and be safe!
I am taking my Choral Ethics Blogs to my chamber choir’s Facebook page for the foreseeable future. Please join me there this morning!