“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt
It’s been almost a year since the world changed because of COVID-19. A year in which most of us have not been directing or singing or doing anything remotely resembling our normal lives. Many of us have used Zoom and other platforms to connect with our family, friends as well as our singers. It’s not perfect but it’s what we have right now. In addition to Zoom, we try other ways of rehearsing which are also not perfect; we are tired and frustrated. For the month of March, we’ll look at ways we can handle these challenging times in a more helpful way.
We are all frustrated and we are all tired. And we are all fed up with having to adjust to situations not of our own making. Some have adjusted to this “new normal” or whatever tired and cliché term we use. Some have not. What can we learn from those who seem to able handle things fairly well?
Most of the folks I have recently contacted about this subject tell me at first, they felt out of control and miserable. Eventually they realized the sooner they accepted not being control of their situation because of the Pandemic, the sooner they could BE in control of what they could be in control of. Sounds simple, right? And each of the people I corresponded with have their own way of being in control of what they can be in control of. We will look at Bonnie’s way today.
Bonnie* tells me she was unhappy when her spring concerts were cancelled. Of course, they needed to be cancelled, she understood that, but it didn’t lessen her unhappiness. Her Board came together a number of times via Zoom during the summer to sort things out for the fall. They decided they would begin Zoom rehearsals around their usual fall starting date and try for a virtual fall concert. After experimenting with all sorts of recording scenarios, they finally came up with consistent way of recording each singer for five different selections for their fall concert. If it had been up to Bonnie, she would have thrown in the towel after the first awful recording. But her Board was insistent they try different things until they got it right and eventually, they did. They also had an abbreviated virtual holiday concert. Her spring Zoom rehearsals begin next week and she’s looking forward to them. She’s happy her Board was insistent.
Do you beat yourself up because a Zoom rehearsal did not go perfectly? A friend of mine has remarked that on Zoom, the first fifteen minutes of a Zoom meeting is all about Zoom. He’s right. With different speeds of WiFi and busy connections, things sometimes don’t go smoothly. But usually within those first fifteen minutes of a Zoom rehearsal, things eventually get in line, yet we feel we’ve wasted time sorting out the technology. Do we chuck Zoom, or do we live with it and make the best of it while we must?
It’s tough to hear our singers spread out in a parking lot or other large spaces. We certainly all understand and yet we are impatient with our singers and ourselves because of the challenges. Do we forgo singing spread out in large spaces because we can’t hear properly? If it is the only way we are able to have an in-person rehearsal, what are our other choices?
If we are not rehearsing with our ensembles, we have a different set of challenges than those who are able to Zoom rehearse or rehearse in a socially distanced manner. Is our organization going to be disbanded? Is our school program being discontinued? Is our ensemble “on hold”? Are our wonderful staff members furloughed and, rightfully, seeking other employment? Are the plans for “After COVID” being shared with any staff? Is everything so “up in the air” you have no idea what the status of your situation is? It isn’t especially confidence building to have things uncertain and in flux, and yet they are.
Next week, we’ll look at another one of my correspondent’s way of coping with these challenging times. Please share your own comments and ideas below.
Until next week, be well and be safe.
I am taking my Choral Ethics Blogs to my chamber choir’s Facebook page for the foreseeable future. Please join me there this morning! https://www.facebook.com/themidwestmotetsociety/