The October issue of Choral Journal is online and features an article titled “Burnout Prevention for Conductors and Their Choirs” by Amelia Nagoski. You can read it in its entirety at acda.org/choraljournal. Following is a portion from the article.
Burnout does not happen because we did not try to take care of ourselves. We are all trying, all the time, to be and do everything we can for our singers, for our families, for ourselves. When we are overwhelmed and exhausted, we are told it’s our fault because we did not take enough “me time,” as if what we needed was more persistence and discipline. Choral musicians can experience judgement, harassment, and prejudice within their own community because they do not have the right religion, body size and shape, sexuality, education, etc. We are all stressed, not just by the things we choose to do, but by the intolerance and injustice that are imposed upon us. Unfortunately, the music industry is more toxic than most.
This is why the cure for burnout is not self-care. No matter how many massages we get or vacations we take, we still live in a world that tells us we just need more grit; that if we don’t have what we want, we just haven’t worked hard enough. What makes this even more difficult and complicated is that every member of your choir lives in the world. They are walking into rehearsal fresh from a day of harassment, micro-aggressions, and news of violence against members of disadvantaged communities.
Then we ask them to sing. For most of them, it is a release and a comfort to use their voices, to connect with other singers, and to explore music that expresses a truth about human experience. It is necessary, therefore, to ask ourselves: Is our choir a place where they escape the oppressions of the wider world?
Read the full article in the October 2021 issue of Choral Journal at acda.org/choraljournal