“The primary purpose and mission of the Windward Choral Society is to promote the joy, love, appreciation and value of multi-cultural choral music within the Windward O‘ahu community through a non-auditioned community-based chorus made up of mixed voices (SATB) from high school ages and up who are residents throughout the Island of O‘ahu.”

You’d be surprised at the hours of thought, discussion, debate and revisions/rewrites it took to create that mission statement. What’s a mission statement? According to Webster it’s “a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual.” The business dictionary clarifies it further as “a written declaration of an organization’s core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time.” The key words would be aims (or goals), values, purpose and focus and I think our mission statement nails all of them. It also provides a framework for something to bounce new ideas around. Participate in a multi-choir concert? Yup. Limit our growth by starting to audition new members? Nope. It’s also been the guide for other more complex proposals but you get the idea.

So what about a personal mission statement, specifically pertaining to your participation in our merry little group of singers? There are a zillion definitions of what that might mean but the most concise I’ve seen is one I believe is worth building on:

“A personal mission statement provides clarity and gives you a sense of purpose.”

So what might this mean for you as a singer among other singers? Who are you and what are you wanting to accomplish? For a veteran of vocalness it might involve being a mentor or source of expertise for those around you who are new and might be struggling. If you’re a new singer it might focus on increasing your skills as a sight reader or expanding your knowledge of the terms and symbols that appear in sheet music to give you a better understanding of the composer’s purpose.

A person much smarter than me has some examples of how to get started, some framework to begin with. The more you think about it and tinker with it, the more personal and meaningful it will become. Be warned: if you start this exercise you’ll find that 1) it’ll take a lot longer than you think, 2) you’re going to learn new things about yourself and 3) once you’re done you’re going to have a feeling of accomplishment.

So here are a few ways to get the ball rolling and the brain cells connecting. Feel free to mix and match chunks but stay focused on clarity and purpose in the context of singing in our chorus:

“My mission is to … [what you want to achieve] … so that … [why it is important]. I will do this by … [how you’ll accomplish it].”

“My mission is to live each day with …[a value or principle]… so that …[what you attain from them]. I will do this by …[the actions you take to attain them].”

“My mission is to appreciate and enjoy …[things you want to appreciate and enjoy more] by …[what you can do to appreciate/enjoy these things].”

Take a while to really hammer away at it, using whatever pieces of these models you want or adding a few of your own, until you have something that defines a path from where you are to where you want to be. Make it applicable to at least one singing semester but strive for something more lasting. When you feel like you’ve really got it, write it down and put it in your music folder. Read it before every rehearsal to remind yourself of your mission…I promise that it will help to take you on that mission’s journey.

(The inspiration for this post came up during a conversation with a friend of mine when he asked what mine might be and my immediate answer was, “I can’t wait to see what happens next”. Not a bad start really, but a little vague…much like me, I suppose.)