Magic Choral Trick #65 Stuff that Directors Have Got To Stop Doing
Glowering and Scowling. Nothing chokes off the sound and confidence for a singer like having this sort of look aimed at you. Someone like me would just leave the choir. Singers who are less confident may be staying because they feel they have no option if they want to continue to be part of a choir. So they stay and just try to tough out the bullying.
Correcting Individuals Publically. Though of course this is damaging to adults – and never a useful way to get the best out of any singer – it’s the kids that worry me.
For many years when I’ve suggested to people that they come along and see if singing in a chorus might be for them, about 75 – 80% have said something like “Oh – you wouldn’t want me in your choir”.
I always ask why not – and almost every time it transpires that when they were kids, someone who they considered to be in a position of authority told them they couldn’t sing. Some weren’t even told in so many words – but were instructed to stand near the back and just mouth the words. This story is almost always related with a bit of a laugh.
However, because I’m so nosy I often ask them how that made them feel. To a person, this question has ALWAYS made them choke up or tear up!!! And sometimes the event happened 40 or 50 years ago. So because of one incident – unnoticed by anyone else – they’ve been robbed of a lifetime of the basic human right to sing.
I guess the moral of the story for all of us Directors is ‘Be kind, be generous, be creative and above all, remember that we’re teachers – not judge and jury’. And no performance is worth taking music out of a kid’s life.