Sunday, July 13, 2008

Calm before the storm

There’s always a strange sense of calm that descends on the choir just before a concert. At least that’s how it seems!

My plan always is to run each half of the forthcoming concert during the last two choir sessions leading up to the gig. I give plenty of notice of this, hand out the running orders in advance, mention it several times at rehearsal, remind people that there’s an important concert coming up, and stress that people need to attend all the rehearsals (including the one on the day of the concert).

I arrive, as always, in plenty of time for our choir session. There are usually about four people there – those people who always like to be on time. 7.30 comes and a handful of other people begin to arrive (our rehearsals start at 7.30 prompt). About 7.40 we’ve managed to muster 20 or so people – maybe as much as one third of the choir! I realise then that people must be so laid-back and calm about the forthcoming concert that I begin to have enormous admiration for them. Why can’t I be so relaxed about the whole thing? I’m beginning to get wound-up. Where is everyone??!!

“Why don’t you start the session?” you cry. “The devil with the latecomers, let them suffer!”. OK, that’s one plan, but we need to rehearse where people are standing, and the tricky entrance song without losing our time and tuning. It’s no good ploughing on with half the choir and then we come to the day itself and the other half are just under-rehearsed.

I’ve talked about people arriving late before (Being in a community choir PART ONE and comment), and there’s no simple one-size-fits-all solution. But I did naively imagine that with a concert looming people would make an extra effort in case they missed anything important!

Another strange group effect is after a concert. If a concert is in the middle of a term and there is a session the week following the concert, the numbers are always dramatically down and people are even later than usual! Even if the concert has been almost a week before, it’s as if people are just sung out or have given all their energy to the performance. Does anybody else notice this?

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Chris Rowbury


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