“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Harry S Truman
Despite the Pandemic, I still get several emails a week about Choral Ethics issues. Most want advice about past problems or seem to be ruminating about them. They’d like to know what they should do if the situation comes up again or what they should have done. Some anticipate the “same old, same old” when things return a bit more toward normal and want to handle things more effortlessly. Others are agonizing about their own behavior and want to apologize to those they believed they’ve wronged. I tell all of them to relax and vow to do better from now on.
Rosie* is the director of a community children’s chorus. She tells me she’s a great believer in the power of “thank-you,” as am I. So, when she first contacted me, I was not sure what the problem was. Well, she said, she never thanked folks in public. Oh sure, after every concert she wrote thank-you notes to parent leaders, gave small tokens of thanks to her accompanists and made sure custodians from all her venues had gift cards for their favorite coffee place. But she never announced those thank-yous in her programs or from the stage. She never asked accompanists or her soloists to stand for a bow. She never thanked all the parents for their devotion to the organization or singled out parent leaders from the stage. Usually, she was on her way home from a concert, realizing she forgot to give her accompanist the recognition he deserves and could kick herself. I suggested the Pandemic has given us all a chance to start afresh and is the perfect opportunity to do things differently when we are able to gather.
Rosie has been worried about the whole “thank-you” dilemma since her chorus began Zoom rehearsals and virtual concerts last fall. And has beaten herself up about the way she has thanked folks in the past. Since her Board decided to use Zoom and try virtual concerts, she has had wonderful technical help; parents coordinating many details and so much help from her adolescent son she is continually amazed by his skill with microphones. How should she thank them? More thank-you notes or gift cards or what? Those ways seem inadequate in light of all they’ve been through.
I shared with Rosie that I have a template for my concert programs and have a section on the back page reserved strictly for thank yous. I leave my usual “thank-yous” (such as family and accompanist) in the template, leaving plenty of room for names of folks pertaining to a particular concert. It forces me to edit down my program notes a bit, but I think it’s worth it. Often, I have a written script for the beginning/end of our concerts and made sure to thank everyone I can think of—again. Yes, I still write thank-you notes and mention them in my programs in addition to thanking them verbally. Overkill? Maybe but someone who is thanked and believes they are appreciated will continue to work hard and perhaps do more. Or that’s been my experience. And I truly do appreciate everyone who contributes to our organization.
I’ve asked some of the folks from my usual Choral Ethics crowd of accompanists what their favorite way of being thanked and got different types of responses. One person is THANKFUL he’s thanked at all, in any way. Several like to be thanked from the stage and while a thank-you note is nice, it isn’t as important to them. A few believe if they go above and beyond for a concert, a gift card or flowers or a plant is called for. All agree, even if it isn’t their preferred way of being thanked, some sort of thank-you is important. And it’s important to the way they feel about the organization, chorus leaders and singers.
We’ve been given the gift of time and reflection with this Pandemic. And an opportunity to take advantage of this pause to make sure we always thank those who help our choruses “sing,” in whatever capacity they do so.
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! https://www.facebook.com/themidwestmotetsociety/