“A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order.” Jean-Luc Godard
It is Storytime here at Choral Potpourri/Choral Ethics with a story from my own life and career. I hope it will get you thinking about how you treat those you work for and with, in the future.
It was one of those days, one in which I had many little things to accomplish. Nothing big or especially time consuming, but just a lot of teensy chores. Little details needed to be addressed in many aspects of my life and I felt stressed to get them all done before rehearsal that night. But I did.
I was directing a decent church choir in a medium-sized church and always planned my rehearsals the afternoon before and sometimes, the afternoon of the day before. This rehearsal (because I knew I would be busy), I had done my planning the day before. I listed the announcements I needed to make about several upcoming services in my planning so I would not forget anything. I felt confident I had ticked off all the boxes and it flowed well, or so I thought.
The next morning, I got a message from my supervising clergy to come in for a meeting to discuss something important. I was confused about what could be so important she needed to call a special meeting, and came in as requested. It turns out, the accompanist/organist felt I didn’t go into as much detail about those upcoming services as I should have and told the pastor. Instead of elaborating himself when I made the announcements or taking me aside after rehearsal, he tattled on me. I explained to the pastor what I said, and even happened to have my rehearsal plan in my briefcase to show her. She didn’t seem to think what I said was exactly wrong, just not enough. I felt pretty crummy about the whole thing. This incident was not what finally caused me to resign from a job I loved, but it was a contributing factor.
The accompanist/organist was young, and this was his first church job. He was a good musician but young, inexperienced and got flustered with all the service music. I finally helped him stay “in the service” by using sticky notes with numbers on them to keep him from being confused on what to play, when. When he was late to rehearsals (which was often), I covered for him and played myself until he got there. There were several times he was late to a Sunday warm-up, and we worried he wouldn’t show at all. Again, I covered for him until I couldn’t one Sunday because he missed his Prelude. He believed I tattled on him, but I did not. And that’s why he tattled on me about something so insignificant.
I should have gone to the Personnel committee about his tardiness from the beginning. Several members of my choir were on that committee, and one person’s spouse was, so it was not exactly a secret. I’ve always believed we should “pick our battles” and his occasional lateness never bothered me. But missing his Prelude could not be overlooked. I was HIS supervisor, since I was a senior staff member, and was not tattling by mentioning it to the pastor. When she wondered where he was, I told her he had not yet gotten to church, and she was NOT happy. He walked in five minutes after that, and was a bit ticked we skipped over his Prelude since it would make everything else late if he played it.
Looking back, I probably should have said more about those services in my announcements that evening. If that young, inexperienced accompanist/organist had spoken up or had taken me aside after, I would have been fine with it. No good deed goes unpunished.
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/