Magic Choral Trick #128 The Motivation to Improve
Sometimes when I speak with friends who either sing in or direct choirs they mention to me that their group has lots of potential, but for some reason is falling short.
I would argue that this statement is true for almost every musical organization I’ve ever heard.
Some groups know what it is that they don’t know, and some groups are aware that something could be handled better, but they don’t know what that something is.
In order for a choir to want to make any changes in the way they’ve always done things, they need to become aware of exciting improvements that can happen as the result of a few very small shifts. (Like even a couple of the 12 Magic Choral Tricks in post #100) The actual sound difference that these tricks make will begin to motivate some choir members into being more focused at rehearsal, and doing more homework – but this won’t work for all choristers.
The doubting Thomases will need to be told by someone who comes from more than 50 miles away. An ‘Expert’. A coach, or a judge or adjudicator in a Music Festival.
Which brings us to a very powerful motivator – competition – whether it’s in a contest or if we’re just performing for the same people who heard another choir last week. Because we belong to performing organizations, even the least competitive amongst us like to feel we’re working towards something that will be an important public function. Something where our hard work will be scrutinized, and we’ll be held to account.
People used to laugh when I’d tell them that my motivation for daily singing practice was fear of public humiliation. This is the Lowest Common Denominator – a powerful motivator and not to be dismissed lightly. Further up the scale though is the physical, emotional and spiritual joy of being part of a group that can create something magnificent.
The path itself – from fear of public humiliation to joy – is an exciting one when the following things are in place:
1. Regular coaching from a variety of experts
2. Use of emailed sound files – really good quality ones with clear lyric pronunciation – so that learning notes is easy and fun, and doesn’t use up rehearsal time
3. Competitions – music festivals and other contests
4. A large repertoire of Magic Choral Tricks – preferably with discreet director hand cues
so that they can be used in performance, or so that the song doesn’t have to be stopped during rehearsal
5. Concerts of course, but also making a CD or Video
6. A website the choir can be proud of, and a strong PR team that keeps attracting new members
7. Director development – courses or private coaching – so that the director expects more of the singers, and has the tools to explain how to meet those expectations. Directors – the best place to start here is to become fanatical about rehearsal planning. A well thought out schedule makes the evening exciting for everyone, keeps the rehearsal motivation high and produces results that you’ll all be proud of.