Everything in the concert is going brilliantly. The choir is firing on all cylinders. The audience are lapping it up, even your lame banter between songs.
Then you spot the one person frowning in amongst a thousand smiling faces and the doubts set in.
seeing only the negative
Or you might be performing live – in fine voice, hitting the sweet spot in your range, blending perfectly with the singers next door to you, soaring with the gorgeous harmonies.
Then you notice the one guy yawning in the third row and the doubts set in.
Or it might be a rehearsal. Things are going swimmingly, the choir are eating up the new, complex song you’re teaching them, even though it was a bit of a risk introducing it. They sound great, they’ve mastered the tricky rhythms and are clearly having fun.
Then you see the one singer who’s looking grumpy and fed up and the doubts set in.
This happens to everyone at some time or other, no matter how experienced you are: conductors, singers, choir leaders, soloists, arrangers, teachers. It can happen in any walk of life.
Even though things are going well, you end up focusing on the one person who is not enjoying what you have to offer. It triggers off any slight doubts you may have about what you’re doing and you can’t seem to shake it off.
You just can’t get that miserable-looking person out of your head. One person doesn’t like what you’re doing, therefore you’re a failure and they don’t like you.
it’s all in your head
What can you do to get yourself out of this rut (or not get in it in the first place)?
First off, it’s all in your head.
You have no idea what the person you’ve chosen to focus on is really feeling and thinking (see also Not everyone experiences a concert in the same way).
Yawning man might have had a hard week at the office, but has made a superhuman effort to attend your concert because he loves what you do (see also How audiences behave and how we respond).
Grumpy alto might be frowning with concentration because she’s trying hard to please you and get it right, not that she doesn’t like the song or how you’re teaching it.
Frowning guy might simply be wondering if you performed that same song the last concert he came to because it seems a bit different this time round.
And that one person who complains to you about how you run the choir (see last week: Keeping the choir happy – you can’t please everyone) might just be feeling inadequate and needs to let you know of their presence in a big group.
accentuate the positive
Easier said than done, but usually the positive vibes far outweigh any individual negativity, so just focus on that.
Assume the one person you’ve chosen to focus on has reasons for looking like that and move on.
The very fact that this person sticks out (otherwise why would you have noticed them in such a large group?) demonstrates that the vast majority of people are happy with what you are offering.
how do you cope?
Do you get thrown easily by Mr. Grumpy and Mrs. Sullen? How do you deal with the negativity that this might spark off.
Do leave a comment and let me know.
And a thought to leave you with:
because you have doubts at all means that you’re never going to become complacent and will always be working on ways to make things better
So, well done you!