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Magic Choral Trick #188 Consider the Back Story

When a choir is stressed because of an upcoming event, the usual magnanimous tolerance can get a little strained. Just as a very slight shift in vocal technique can make a huge difference to a group’s sound, so too, a very slight shift in the membership’s anxiety level can alter the whole emotional chemistry of rehearsal.

Here’s what has helped me over the years.

Reframe the incident. Consider the intent – the back story behind what motivated the person to do whatever it was that was done or said.

I remember a point in the ‘est’ training years ago when the trainer told us that everything that is ever said can be distilled to communicate just one thing – I love you. Many of the 200 of us harrumphed or rolled our eyes.

He then led us through an example like this:

“Why can’t you take a turn to wash the dishes? I’m tired of being the only one doing the work around here!!”

Which on the face of it doesn’t sound much like ‘I love you’. However, we can break this down fairly easily.

a) I’m angry that you don’t do your fair share.

b) I want you to notice how much I do.

c) I want you to appreciate how much I do for you.

d) I want you to want to do the same for me – which will show me that you love and appreciate me.

e) It frightens me that you might not love and appreciate me.

f) Because I love you.

I think that music making, especially with groups, can always be distilled to one intention – to experience a ‘larger than just me’ expression of love.

I notice this heartbursting feeling in the ringing chord, an exciting change in dynamics, the exquisitely crafted phrase, the electric silence before the audience erupts into applause, the humour, and the tea or coffee time after a tough rehearsal.

That’s why I do this.

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