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Magic Choral Trick #162 What You Always Do, You Always Do

Been watching a fly bumping up against the window over and over and over. I guess he wants to go outside, but has only the one strategy and isn’t able to notice that it isn’t working.

Flies get to be experts at bumping into windows.

This post could also be titled ‘What You Always Do, You Do Well’. So here are two of the window banging things at which we may have become experts.

A staggered approach to the onset of rehearsal. Even when everyone is physically present and on time (yes, rare I know) not every chorus member is actually conscious. We have become experts at demanding very little of ourselves in the first fifteen minutes or so of rehearsal.

Most choirs are actually rehearsing for specific performances, when a high degree of conscious attention will be required immediately – not half an hour from the onset of the performace. In order to become really good at flipping the conscious attention switch, this needs to be practised over and over and over – till, like the fly – this becomes our only way to operate.

Most of us become adept at being less than up to our potential in our physical singing habits. But when a performance comes along and we desperately want to give it our all (the proverbial 110%), this is something that we haven’t rehearsed. This is something at which we are not experts.

Once upon a time I got out of my car to pump gas, leaving the keys in the ignition and somehow managed to lock myself out. So now it’s an unthinking habit for me to always take the keys with me whenever I get out of my car. Not only does this prevent another lock out situation, but it also saves me from always having to stop and make a conscious choice about whether or not it’s ok to leave my keys in this time.

If I decide that from this moment on I will always sing to the very best of my ability, then every second that I’m singing will be rehearsing the 110% that I’ll need for my next performance. I’ll become an expert at singing up to my potential, and I won’t have to decide over and over during each rehearsal if this particular part of the song requires only 70% of my effort.

And yes, I can hear several of my chorus members saying to themselves – “but what about the days when I feel wretched?”

To quote an MLM tape I used to have: “All you can do is all you can you, but all you can do is enough”. Besides, with all that extra oxygen and that glorious sound around you, you’ll feel much better soon.

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