Being a Chorus Director is a job like few others. The chorus is your boss, but during rehearsal it’s your job to lead, to call the shots and to inspire your bosses to do better.
You need enough ego to take charge, and enough street smarts and Spidey senses to pick up the cues that mean that you need to lighten up or loosen the grip a little.
If you don’t take charge, one of the stronger (and not necessarily more tactful) members from the chorus will pick up that slack, and everyone will be unhappy with the rehearsal dynamic.
If you run a rehearsal with a My Way or the Highway style, it’ll be perceived as adversarial, and once again we end up with a room full of grumpy people. And grumpy people don’t sing well.
While some sort of choir music team is always necessary – for rehearsal feedback and planning suggestions – it is absolutely essential if you were not blessed with strong social Spidey senses. If your telepathic powers are less than stellar, you absolutely need a trusted few people from the chorus who will be completely honest about what’s working, what’s not working and what they’re hearing from other chorus members.
A happy chorus is one in which the members feel that it’s not only their singing voices that are heard. In any group we need to feel that our input is valued, and at least considered.
When there’s a team behind you, supporting you and coaching you, you also tend to self monitor more. In other words, you think and plan more carefully – and as a result, fewer and fewer negative things leak out of your mouth during rehearsal. In fact, the more kind coaching and monitoring you receive from your trusted team, the more you are reminded of why you started Directing in the first place.
Though I didn’t know it at the time, I began all this as creative social art – the rehearsal itself as a work of art, during which we all collaborate to experience something transcendent.