“While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.” Francis of Assisi
If you’ve been reading my Choral Potpourri/Choral Ethics blogs for any length of time, you know I HATE GOSSIP! Hate it. Detest it and LOATH it, especially in a choral setting.
It does no good to gossip about our colleagues and their ensembles. It doesn’t help the arts community in general or the choral community specifically to “bad mouth” others. We are all in this together and the sooner we realize it and behave accordingly, the sooner we will reap the benefits. We should be supportive of each other, since if your group is doing well, my group should be as well.
Many forget this truth. They attend concerts and gossip about the performance or the concert wear or who is doing what and how well WHILE THE CONCERT IS HAPPENING. They repeat gossip they hear to their friends and the truth, whatever it is, morphs into something unrecognizable, the victim of a game of “Telephone.” It might be “fun” but it is damaging because it destroys good will. And art organizations, no matter on the professional, church, school or community level, need good will to survive.
My own chamber choir is not the norm in our community and as often as not, is referred to as that “little choir” in a rather disparaging way. The singers in my choir understand we are that “little choir” until proven otherwise. There is often gossip about us, especially from singers in other larger ensembles. We know we are singing music no other ensemble in our community is singing because it’s difficult and like it just fine.
I hate the gossip which surrounds some art organizations–you know the ones I mean. I won’t tolerate gossip in my rehearsals from singers about other groups, especially if they are former members of those other groups. You won’t hear a bad word from me about my conducting colleagues or their choirs in public or private. I will nod or be non-committal when gossip swirls around me but I won’t join in the “fun” no matter what. I know when the gossip is directed at me in my presence and I refuse to acknowledge it, I look stupid or naïve. If I say anything in retaliation or make an equally nasty comment, I will be sinking to their level. And I will look as poorly as they do. Better to be thought of as stupid than nasty!
There is a difference between networking and gossip. If someone retires and there is an open position, it’s good to know. It’s also good to hear why the person is leaving so we can decide if we really want to apply. Whoever applies for the first job and then gets it will create another opening. And so on, down the food chain of choral jobs. We’ve all heard stories about colleagues in our community: the “too big for his britches” fellow who got the plum church job and was asked to leave after eight months or the college conductor who retired and left a mess for his successor to clean up or the community chorus director who didn’t try to be a community member. I never believe such stories unless I hear it from a person I respect. I don’t repeat the stories to anyone because I don’t want to perpetuate gossip. It’s not fair to my colleagues and I don’t want to get that reputation.
Repetition creates habit, as we all know from our own practicing and rehearsing. If we get into the habit of gossiping, we will continue to gossip. I have often thought if we said nice things about others, even if we don’t believe it, it would create the habit of saying nice things about others. Perhaps someday, we would even believe those nice things. Wouldn’t that be nice?