“The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.” Walt Whitman
I get emails about Choral Ethics issues from all over. Several times a year, it’s a flurry of emails. I have gotten MANY emails this January in particular. I think it’s because restrictions have ended in many parts of the country and things are back to a kind of “normal” for many of us. But some of the same old situations have come rushing back when we thought they would have been gone.
Today I will share some Choral Ethics issues I’ve been consulted about this month, a few are similar so I can respond to them together. One is unique and deserves a separate response.
The first Choral Ethics issue is a reoccurring one; complaints from accompanists. From not getting music in adequate time to practice or not having their names in the program to being verbally abused—and worse–in front of the chorus, these complaints are typical to ones I was consulted about BEFORE the Pandemic. My advice and suggestions are the same.
Accompanists should always ask for their music ‘way before they will need it. And KEEP ON ASKING until they get their music. There might be a good explanation as to WHY they haven’t received the music. Music supply chain issues are a “thing” now, and it could be the very reason the music isn’t available. It would be nice to know. Be gracious but keep asking about the music!
If your name isn’t in the program, it could be a simple mistake or an innocent oversight. For two years, most of us have had our concert routine disrupted and mistakes that were never made before might be made in these post-COVID times. If this happened before the Pandemic and it’s still happening, you should ask why your name has not been included. If your name was announced from the stage or you were acknowledged at the concert, it’s probably fine and a simple mistake. If it’s important to you to be named in the program, tell whoever is in charge of putting the physical program together as well as the artistic/music director that it is important to you to have your name in the program. Good accompanists are not always easy to find, and my guess is they will make sure your name is ALWAYS in the program.
Verbal abuse and worse is never okay in a choral rehearsal, or any kind of rehearsal. I’ve written about this in Choral Ethics blogs in the past but was reminded during the past few weeks that it is still going on. Anyone who disparages you or your talent or your intellect IN PUBLIC, or in private for that matter, is not someone whom you should respect enough to continue working with. Should you quit? Yes. But quit when it makes the most sense FOR YOU. It might be immediately, or it might be at the end of the choral year. Anyone who THROWS MUSIC AT YOU or does anything remotely physically abusive to you in public or in private is not worth staying in that job. Should you quit? YES, and immediately! I am looking at you R.J.—GET OUT OF THERE!
Sal* tells me he has heard rumors about himself recently. He’s not sure when the rumors began but these are not flattering things. Probably the best way to describe them is gossip—and you know how much I HATE gossip. He shared some of the things being bandied about, and I won’t share them here because they are specific, and I would like to protect Sal’s anonymity. They are not nice. He tells me they are not true and not even close to anything he would do or say but he is livid, to say the least.
First hearing the rumors about himself at the end of October from a “friend,” Sal became upset. Wanting to know if anyone he works with had heard anything, he asked his accompanist the next time he saw her. She said she had heard something a few years ago but thought it was so fanciful, she dismissed it. It began to really bother Sal and he asked other colleagues and they confirmed they have heard versions of what that “friend” told Sal.
Sal wants to know what to do about this. I told him nothing. Yes, that’s right, nothing. Rumors and gossip have a life of their own and there is nothing you can do to stop it. It’s difficult to know someone out there is making things up, misinterpreting your actions and motives, and generally smearing your name. The more you protest, the more you try to correct, the more you try to clear you name, the worse it will be. Live a good life, be a good choral director, and never do anything remotely like the gossip. You can change people’s opinions who have heard the rumors by being yourself, which is nothing like those rumors, and rising above.
If you have a Choral Ethics issue or query or comment, please email me: . I’ll get back to you and we can figure it out!
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