This week I had one of those “difficult” rehearsals when nothing seemed to go right! We have a concert coming up this weekend so we were running through the first half of the proposed set. However, I wasn’t feeling very well and certainly wasn’t at my best. The brain just wasn’t working properly! It’s at times like this that it feels like one of those horrible paranoid dreams: you find yourself in a situation where a huge crowd of people are looking at you wanting to know what to do next and you have absolutely no idea!! Fortunately most choir members have been here before and realise that it’s just a blip in our normal routine.
This is where trust comes in. All we can do is trust that we have done our preparation, both collectively (I have taught the songs well and we have rehearsed them sufficiently) and individually (choir members have done their homework, learnt their words and know their part). That is all we can do: prepare well. We then need to trust in the process and try to relax and enjoy the performance.
This same notion of trust comes in when people don’t think they can “sing”. If I behave as if everyone can sing and the song we are learning is not difficult, then it’s as if am giving permission for people to be their best. It is handing over responsibility to the individual, giving them space fully to be themselves, trusting that they can do it. And the results are usually marvellous!
Often people tell me that they can’t understand how I can be so patient. Patient when a song is just not working, patient when a group just can’t seem to get their part right, patient when a rehearsal is going pear-shaped. My response to that is: “what is the alternative?” I know some musical directors who shout or get cross, but from my experience that makes people tense and less likely to get things right! If you believe in the process, believe that people are capable and competent, believe that you are teaching reasonably well, then you just have to wait and it will all come good in the end. That’s my philosophy any way!
Trusting people doesn’t mean becoming complacent and not trying. You do have to do the work and make sure you prepare well. It doesn’t matter how many times we have performed well, I still need to make sure that we work hard to make the concert the best it can be (maybe even better than last time!). Otherwise we will just rest on our laurels and the whole thing may be a disaster.