Since I moved to Iowa City, Iowa in August 2022, much of the past several months has been establishing new routines. Even something as simple as where to go grocery shopping has taken some figuring out. With a new position comes new policies, procedures, and working relationships. Then there is emerging out of lockdown. Even if we’ve been in the same position for 10 years or more, we’ve been re-establishing previous routines or creating new ones since the pandemic started.
The past two and a half months have been a big change in routine for me. I was in a community production of the musical The Secret Garden in mid-February. Then at the end of February, I presented a solo voice recital at my church. As a result, I decided to take a brief sabbatical from writing blog posts, which I found was a wise decision. During the last 2 – 3 weeks of rehearsals for the musical, I was rehearsing 4 or 5 nights a week. While well worth it, I found myself having much less free time each day. In addition, I found that routines I had set for myself, such as when to cook meals for the week, were disrupted.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about routines and re-establishing some of them in my personal and professional lives. Although it doesn’t feel like spring quite yet in Iowa City, Iowa, it’s been warm enough to take a walk outside in a large park across the street from my apartment. That’s a routine I’ve sorely missed, as from my perspective, sometimes it gets too cold here during the winter to go on a lengthy walk outside. During my walk today, I thought about routines and how they can get easily negatively disrupted. Perhaps we have to handle a family emergency or experience heartbreak, both of which can impact routines we’ve set up for weeks, months, or even years. Or on a more positive note, out of the blue, a friend texts or calls or grab dinner and drinks. Immediately after Easter Sunday services, I will be flying to Paris, France for vacation for 10 days. That is a change in routine I will gladly embrace. I’m sure all the walking I’ll do will balance out the pastries and the wine I’ll consume.
At St. Andrew, the congregation I serve, we’ve experienced weeks of inclement weather on a Wednesday or Thursday. As a result, since January, several rehearsals have been cancelled that usually happen on those days. Talk about a disruption! Originally on February 26, the Adult Choir was supposed to sing Rollo Dilworth’s arrangement of I Want Jesus to Walk With Me with several instruments: piano, drums, bass, clarinet, trumpet, and trombone.
Unfortunately, the Wednesday choir rehearsal prior to February 26 had to be cancelled due to inclement weather. As we needed that rehearsal to do some necessary fine tuning and working with the instrumentalists, I decided to postpone the anthem to March 26, the fifth Sunday in Lent. I’m sure this will not be the last time I’ll need to postpone an anthem due to missed rehearsals due to inclement weather or other reasons.
One of the skills I’ve learned during the pandemic is greater adaptability. As one of my favorite sayings goes “If plan A doesn’t work, there are 25 other letters in the alphabet”. While I was disappointed about postponing the anthem, the success of the choir far outweighed any emotions I was feeling in the moment. In addition, it turns out all of the instrumentalists were also available for March 26. Talk about a pre-Easter miracle!
This week, it is Spring Break for the K-12 schools and the University of Iowa. Since many in the congregation are connected to either the school system or the university, several of members are traveling and out of town. As a result, I expect that I could very well have half or less of the typical singers at Adult Choir rehearsal. Having worked in music ministry for over 15 years, I know that rehearsals like this happen. As a result, routines have to change. Thankfully, I’m seasoned enough to know how to roll with it. For this week, I’ll avoid rehearsing sections of pieces that have divisi. I’ll choose to review pieces we’ve already rehearsed, especially so I can dig into concepts that I’d like to review and introduce new concepts. Perhaps I’ll have small group discussion on more than one of the pieces we’re working on.
I love routines and even the challenge of setting up new ones! On the other hand, I realize that I need to be aware and flexible enough when to ditch routines. With the case of Wednesday’s choir rehearsal, I’m thankful that I can plan ahead of time. However, there are times when the necessity to drop a routine happens suddenly and due to unforeseen circumstances. In those times, I do my best to stick to my values in challenging situations. In the case of a choir rehearsal, I do my best to focus on what the singers need in the moment.
When’s a time when you’ve had to ditch a routine? Comment below!