Monthly Archives: May 2014

Magic Choral Trick #304 Back Off Babycakes

Some Director lessons are tougher to learn than others.

There’s a tendency for those of us out in front to be so focused on doing our singers’ job for them, that we neglect our own. Especially those of us who’ve been solo performers and had a modicum of success. We spend much of our directing time willing our singers to do the right thing – and doing it all for them, as if we were facing the other way.

So I’m presuming that Fate had this in mind when on February 14th it whammed my head into the ice in the driveway and made me all but useless for the last three months.

Some interesting observations have come out of this:

1. First of all, my choruses are perfectly capable of doing really excellent work without me.

2. A concussed brain does not deal well with trying to maintain exuberance or emotional expressiveness – so no more emoting along with the singers. Not my job anyway, but I’ve been doing this all my directing life. I really felt I had to in order for everyone to be on the same page.

My women’s chorus’ presentation team monitors all the faces and physical movement and I no longer even pay attention to that facet of the performance. Right now my brain simply can’t handle it.

3. Big physical directing movements are too exhausting to sustain over an evening. Again though, since these fall into the category of trying to do it all for the singers, I need to back off the drama queen stuff anyway. Overdoing the directing has wiped me out a number of times in recent weeks and I’ve had to sit down.

4. But sitting down has an up side. I listen much more. Once the performance plan is in place, the only thing for which they really need me is for attacks and releases.
Everything else belongs to the singers.

5. On any given night these days I can’t predict my ‘best before’ time. I never know if I’ll have another opportunity to rework a phrase later in the evening. I have to assume that I won’t, so we do everything we can to get it right the first time, or to drill it until we do.

And as we all know, urgent and intense rehearsals are usually the most fun.

6. The biggest lesson for me since the injury is that my choir and choruses have my back. They are actually willing and eager to do most of the work themselves. All they ever needed me for was guidance – and that is for me both a wonderful gift and a powerful lesson.

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