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- September 26, 2013 at 4:47 am #426753Liz GarnettParticipantHello Marie,You may find Part II of my book Choral Conducting and the Construction of Meaning http://www.amazon.co.uk/Choral-Conducting-Construction-Meaning-Garnett/dp/0754663795 a useful reference for your project. It analyses the value systems articulated in the British and American literature for choral practitioners. It is ethnomusicological rather than instruction in approach, but it may help identify some key ethical themes that run through choral culture. While few people may have written about it directly, as you say, there is a clear set of moral norms (and also areas of dissent/controversy) that are shared by practitioners – as indeed the wonderful response your query has elicited demontrates!Tone Bianca Dahl may be a useful source for you too, as well as Tom Carter’s Choral Charisma. Both are very focused on the humanity of the people they work with.lizSeptember 26, 2013 at 11:26 am #426776Kenneth OwenParticipantI think a discussion of ethics in the choral arena needs to happen more often, and I applaud your work. I would encourage you to include things that may be uncomfortable, and that may seem obvious. I say this because I have been troubled by how many examples I’ve seen in recent years of directors in educational settings engaging in inappropriate activities/relationships with students (sexual misconduct). The result has been, of course, catostrophic to the programs at those schools and to relationships between those schools and their communities. Though it seems obvious that such behavior is unacceptable, there are some who apparently need reminding. It is an uncomfortable topic, but for the sake of our students it cannot be overlooked.September 27, 2013 at 7:12 am #426814Craig HawkinsParticipantThis string in the thread has me thinking… to both points of view. David: are you thinking more in terms of “We must support our SINGERS, COLLEAGUES, and PROFESSION” being positive modes of the same attitude Marie is putting forth? If so, Marie, please feel free to use my wording.CraigSeptember 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm #426842My big concern is people won’t know what you mean by “We must support our SINGERS, COLLEAGUES, and PROFESSION.” What does *support mean? Doesn’t everyone want to *support* their singers, collegues, profession? And why should that be pointed out? Often, what seems to be standard practice, isn’t, and standard, good behavior as well as *conductors behaving badly* needs to described.More later……thanks Craig!MarieSeptember 27, 2013 at 12:15 pm #426843Thank you for mentioning your book…I will take a look at it. I have Tom’s and don’t know the other person, so I will get busy! Thank you, Liz!MarieSeptember 27, 2013 at 12:20 pm #426845Kenneth, I agree with you about speaking of uncomfortable things………I’ve had experience with an incident such as you speak……but it was a local band director and one of my sons was one of his private students! Thank the Lord my son was unharmed and the incident came out the year he was a freshman in college…..but you have a good point and I will try to touch on the subject as clearly and kindly and compassionately as possible.MarieSeptember 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm #426848Lucy Hudson StembridgeParticipantYes, Kenneth, this is sad, but true.I am sorry to report that I’ve observed this, in community and church settings as well. :/None of us wants the public saying/thinking, “You can’t trust a choral director with your spouse/child/money, etc.”Most choral directors are, I believe, good citizens in many ways. But we all know about “squeaky wheels”and how they are much more noticeable!I recommend that hiring committees be wary and screen carefully, requesting several personal recommendations. At the same time, some organizations ( if there are only one or two questionable accusations) might wish to give a talented/dedicated person a second chance, if s/he seems to sincerely wish to change. I recommend monitoring these people very closely!Sometimes singers want so badly to sing in an organization, or have a solo, that the director is in a position of too much power. We should never misuse this, just as our bosses, company presidents, and government officers should not!I hope that it is needless to say that we need to keep the distinction between who someone is and what they do. Many great Choral Directors, just as poeple in other careers, might happen to be people whoseromantic persuasions, and/or their gender identiy are less-conventional. That has absolutely nothing to do with any action, or lack of it.“Misconduct” refers to a situation where one controls the other against their will, engages with a minor, speaks in an inappropriately sexual way, uses sex as a “quiud-pro-quo” deal, or harasses another.We also need to protect ourselves by conducting private coachings, small meetings, etc., with open doors. (The scouts have a “never alone” motto.) Even in the case of a director/teacher who is totally innocent, it only takes one accusation to taint/curtail a career.Again, thank you, Kenneth, for raising an important aspect of this topic, and Marie, for spearheading this very important project. Keep us posted as to the help you need.LucyNovember 21, 2013 at 12:39 pm #430422Bart BrushParticipantGreat idea, Marie; we should all keep these things in mind. As a matter of historical interest–Shostakovich may not have been as subservient to Stalin as we thought. I’m sorry I cannot recall more details, but I heard part of a report on NPR a few years ago, about the ways he defied Stalin and his henchmen in his music. In other words, he used the alternative language of music to say what he could not say directly in “plain Russian”. This report may have been an interview with a new biographer, or Shostakovich’s son; possibly on Fresh Air or the Diane Rehm show.November 23, 2013 at 3:07 pm #430571Andrew MillerParticipantI think about this stuff all the time. I have also learned that we need to forgive ourselves for the times that we step out of line, and remember that when this happens, it usually comes from our passion.
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