Before I blast into the blog I just have to show you this amazing thing that I didn’t know existed but everybody should know about because it is SERIOUSLY cool. How about a multi-camera live feed…
…from the International Space Station. Totally mesmerizing. Try having it rolling along in one corner of your screen while you’re doing other stuff so you can maximize it when something awesome slides by. I was lucky enough to check in once when the camera feed was from a GoPro on the chest of someone who was working outside, his gloves would come into view from time to time and the blue of the ocean rolled by in the background.
And now back to our regularly scheduled but of insanity…
“On several occasions over the past 30 years, I have been invited in as a troubleshooter to ‘save’ or at least revitalize groups. Some of the issues they faced included ageing choruses with dwindling membership and audience, unsuitable repertoire, a recently retired musical director, poor finances, weak administrative infrastructure, and inadequate publicity. These factors have often combined to generate a lack of motivation in members and communities.”
She then highlights the big things that make a choir’s life hard/bad/damaging. I’ve taken a look at each and given it the WCS test to see if our ship is heading for an iceberg in the dark (hint…it’s not).
Issue #1 – Encourage, cajole, and convince to form your committee
Since the very first request for a Board of Directors there has been an ever-evolving group of motivated people to make it go. When someone’s term is up there’s ALWAYS someone to fill their space and nearly all of the former Board members are still directly involved in an advisory role. They’re dedicated and each of them brings their own set of skills to the group and it gets stuff done in a big way. Cajole and convince? Not here.
Issue #2 – Promoting your concert
We must be doing something right since we typically pack whatever barn (or parking garage) we perform in. How many times have there been dozens of people forced to stand in the back because the seats are full? Nearly all of them. We’ve also built an extensive database of our audience members (fans, actually) and they’ve become a vital cog in the wheel of donations that keep us going. I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve spoken to at the grocery store who were either 1) gushing about how epic our last concert was or 2) asking about when the next one was and what kind of music was THIS one going to be (or both). We’ve become a vital and important member of our community, which is exactly how it should be.
Issue #3 – Repertoire, soloists, and orchestral players
Yup, yup and yup. One of the things that makes our choir so much fun is the dozens of languages and cultures that we bring to the table. We never know what to expect at the beginning of our semester and our audiences don’t know what to expect at the end! Soloists, with the exception of something nuts like the “Misa Criolla” where we bring in some of the best hired guns in the state, are home-grown from within our ranks. Are they the best singers on the face of the earth? Maybe not. Does that fact that they are part of the family make their singing inspired and awesome? Yup. And as for orchestral players, we’ve had everything from a full orchestra to an ensemble with an Andean charango to booming brass to jazz. No fear, big fun.
I don’t know about the rest of you but I’ve never been part of a choir of any shape or size that needed “rescuing”. I know of one that went through a tough time and experienced some of the symptoms that the blogger described but that could all be attributed to the fact that the director was a pompous ass (Can I say “ass” in here? I’m the boss so I guess so…plus it’s really the only way to describe him accurately). Embolden the Board, show him the door, bring in somebody better and off they went to grow and thrive.
Back to the blog entry’s conclusion; here’s my favorite part, with a little emphasis where I think it should go…
One final note to conductors
“So much can ride on the personality and music interests of the conductor and his or her connections in the local, regional, and national music scene. Being well prepared for rehearsals and concerts should go without saying — and if you are new to the job these are essential. It helps to have a sense of fun. I also always make a point of being secure on translations.”