I often wish that I could have a really terrific coach with me at every rehearsal – pointing out to me the things I haven’t noticed, and give me tips on how to run tighter and progressively more productive rehearsals.
However, the truth is that most of us have had enough coaching to be able to lift ourselves to the next level, whether we’re directing or singing. We just lose focus. We forget that this is actually important to us.
As singers, we know that daily technical practising, going through our music at home and getting into better physical condition are three basic things that would create some next level magic.
As directors we know that more specific schedule planning that anticipates the work that our group will need, more musical and emotional analysis of the music, and a thoughtful daily review of our directing and rehearsal technique would make each rehearsal even more exciting for everyone.
And many of us do at least some of this.
But the question is the same as it is for all those other areas of our lives that matter.
Am I doing absolutely everything I can to create loving relationships?
Am I giving my body everything it needs for radiant health?
Am I as kind and generous as it’s possible to be?
When I was singing professionally there were performances that went gloriously well, and there were some that were barely adequate. But what every single performance had in common was that I can honestly say that I always brought everything I had to it – what I had in the moment. There were just some days when that wasn’t much when compared to my other performances. The truth though was generally that if I’d prepared more, or taken care of my health beforehand, it would have gone much better.
In my years of bringing up four kids there were days when my Mom skills were second to none. Then there were days when my parenting skills went on vacation – and my poor kids and I all ended the day feeling fed up, sad, annoyed or anxious. But I always felt that whatever had happened, I’d given it everything I had.
But was that always the truth?
I Can Do Better
This phrase is like a reset button for determination.
Even though we may have given whatever it is we’re doing 100% of our effort – there’s always something more that we could easily be doing to improve the outcome.
The phrase “I can do better” is a trigger for our subconscious mind to come up with the next small step. A step that’s small enough not to overwhelm us, but big enough to make a real difference in the outcome.
For chorus singers – a small step like a cleaner target vowel, or singing with mental energy right to the end of a phrase, or lifting the pitch on a slightly saggy note, or listening more.
As a solo performer having a tough vocal day, I could have increased my emotional interaction with my audience.
As a mom I could have just hugged each kid more on those bad days.
As a director I’m thinking of adding “I can do better” as a call and response every once in a while – especially when they already know exactly what needs to be done and how to do it, but have just lost some focus.