“Firmness in enduring and exertion is a character I always wish to possess. I have always despised the whining yelp of complaint and cowardly resolve.” Robert Burns
Today’s Choral Ethics blog is a rerun from several years ago. It’s still applicable as we begin to get back to normal. I’ll be back with new Blogs next week! MLGA
I can’t stand whiners. Maybe it’s because I am the oldest of six, the mother of three and the aunt of 14 (that doesn’t include the 4 great-nieces and nephews). Perhaps it’s because I spent the first few years of my career at a girls school where whining was part of the culture. I don’t know why I hate whining so much but I do: I loathe it in fact. If you start off with that tone, you will have me grinding my teeth and walking away from you. That includes cyber-whining as well.
Most of the Choral Ethics Dilemma questions I receive via email are NOT whiny, but some are. I know I’ve written at least one Choral Potpourri Blog about whining turning me off but, given the recent number of whiny emails, it’s time for another one.
By far, the biggest Whine I regularly receive is “It’s Not Fair.” I get it from singers. I get it from directors. I get it from accompanists. This complaint can often be traced back to the Whiner who is writing; something they DID or DID NOT do. Before you start whining again, think about some of these things.
If you are a singer and did NOT get the solo you expected to get, are you able to tell me why? Did you actually audition, or did you expect to have it handed to you without auditioning? Did you sing the material you were asked to sing for the audition? Did you practice the material (if you were given it beforehand) you were asked to sing for the audition? Did you sound okay, or did you make excuses for your voice? Was your attitude in the audition one of entitlement? Do you have a good relationship with the person you were auditioning for, or do you and they have “issues?” If you stop and think about these questions, you will get the answers as to why you were not given the solo.
Again, if you are a singer and did NOT get the solo you expected to get, who DID get it? Someone with a better voice? Someone with a better attitude or a better relationship with the person doing the auditioning? Someone who is graduating or who has more seniority in your choir? Someone who has more experience singing solos? Someone with a better work ethic? If you are honest with yourself, you should be able to understand WHY you didn’t get the solo and adjust your attitude and strategy accordingly next time. Suck it up and be a good sport, whatever the case, because your attitude about NOT getting the solo could affect the outcome the next time. And to be (ironically) fair, there are times when you SHOULD have gotten the solo and you didn’t. Sometimes, things really are not fair.
If you are a director and upset with your choir’s ability to sing what you would like them to sing, why don’t you do something to change it? You are the director, and you get to choose the repertoire. If they can’t sing it, it’s because you chose wrong or you didn’t rehearse efficiently. Next time, choose something easier and work to get it perfect; then try something more difficult when they get it under their belts. It “isn’t fair” they are not able to sing what you would like them to sing but if all you have are ten singers, they are NOT going to be able to do the Verdi Requiem!
As the director, your choir should listen to you. If you are not happy with them NOT listening, talking when they should be singing and generally behaving like middle-aged middle schoolers, you need to DO SOMETHING. Read a book on choir management or post something here on ChoralNet asking for ideas. Act like an adult when they act like twelve-year-olds but don’t COMPLAIN about it if you haven’t tried to change the situation.
The biggest whine/complaint I get from accompanists is getting the music late and not having time to practice. So, folks, if you haven’t gotten the music, ask for it. Ask again if you don’t get it. If you are told the music hasn’t come in, there’s your answer; ask when it is EXPECTED to come in. Offer to help collate folders so you can get it quicker. DO SOMETHING; don’t just whine “I never get the music in time to really practice it” or “they so take me for granted because I never get the music……blah, blah, blah.” I’ve gotten this whine A LOT lately!
Okay everyone; back to Summer.
Until next week, be well and safe!
I have been taking my Choral Ethics Blogs to my chamber choir’s Facebook page but will take the month of August off. See you in September!