An interesting situation has come up with one of my groups.
We have a performance scheduled for the end of this month, which we’ve been discussing since well before Christmas.
In the middle of last week, I asked for a firm number of people who’d be there, and almost everyone indicated that they would be.
However, I’ve just discovered that there’s a mandatory event on the same day, in another city that affects quite a few of them.
They were told about this conflicting event two days before our last rehearsal.
Couple of interesting points here.
First of all – though they’d been told about this conflicting, mandatory event two days earlier, not one of them remembered it when I asked at rehearsal about attendance.
Second – I was emailed by only one choir member to say that she wouldn’t be at the performance after all.
I certainly understand forgetting and messing up our scheduling life – it’s this second point that concerns me.
I truly don’t think that the singers neglected to let me know about their impending absence out of fear or disrespect. Never seen any sign of either of those with members of this great group of people.
So what is it?
I’ve seen this often in amateur singing groups. Some of the individual singers (actually, a shocking number) think that they don’t matter, and that their voices will not be missed. They are so convinced of this that they assume that no one will notice their absence – even for a performance. And they’re so sure of how little they matter that they don’t mention ahead of time that they won’t be at rehearsal, or at a gig.
How do we fix this?
This is much less of a problem with my women’s Barbershop chorus. Harmony Inc. has already done a wonderful job of educating its membership about the value of each singer. The slogan “Ordinary women, making extraordinary music” has been well imprinted now on the brains and DNA of all Harmony Inc. members.
What makes amateur singing groups so rewarding and miraculous is that a group of people who are not soloists, and not necessarily musical experts can create together great artistry. Artistry that wouldn’t be possible individually.
So clearly, the fix is in educating the members of this particular group about the importance of every singer. Reminding them about the artistry they’ve already achieved, because they’ve worked together, would be a good start.
Each choir member needs to realize that they matter. They really matter. As a director, it’s my job to keep reminding them, and having them notice when something musically wonderful happens because of their teamwork.