Sunday, January 02, 2011

Looking forward/ looking back 1

It’s that time of year when I take the opportunity to look back over the past year, and to look forward to things I might want to achieve in the coming year.


I believe it’s a good to do, whether it’s at the start of a new year, on your birthday, or in the summer break: a time to reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going.

I thought I’d share a few of my own highlights together with some general questions that you might help get you started on your own process of taking stock. First off: looking back.

I wrote a post in January about 10 things I wanted to achieve in 2010. I guess it’s time to see if I actually achieved any of them! I also posed some questions which may have given you some food for thought for the year ahead. You might like to dig out your responses (or come up with new ones for 2011) and see how things panned out.

These are the ten things that I came up with.

  1. More ‘theatrical’ concerts

    QUESTION: have you ever performed in or attended a choral concert which was out of the ordinary in some way?

    I wanted to present concerts that were not just a choir standing still. I wanted to play with entrances and exits and different groupings of singers.

    I had two opportunities this year, both with Woven Chords, both in proper theatre spaces. We did manage to spice up the performances a little, but I was frustrated because there was simply not enough time in the spaces to practice different groupings, etc. and to do a decent lighting plan.

    What I’ve learnt from this is that the theatricality of a performance takes at least as long to put in place as does learning the songs in the first place! It would be a good idea to incorporate moving in space into our weekly rehearsals rather than adding it on at the last moment. Also, a good solid one-day rehearsal in the actual performing space would work wonders. 
  2. Professional development

    QUESTION: what are you going to do next year to develop your own practice as a singer or choir leader?

    I really wanted to attend more workshops this year, but it just didn’t work out. I even had the opportunity to apply for funding for professional development, but I either couldn’t make the time or couldn’t find a suitable workshop.

    I tend to get booked up at least six months in advance, but I often get to hear about great workshops only a few weeks before they happen. Also, I’m more and more interested in unusual workshops which are few and far between. 
  3. Engage more with readers

    QUESTION: what is stopping you from leaving a comment on this blog?

    I still haven’t figured out why some posts attract loads of comments and others none. Nor why some people are happy to leave comments whilst others just sit back and read or email me personally. It does get a little frustrating and I often feel like I’m sending messages out into deep space which just never arrive! 
  4. Develop more social networks

    QUESTION: do you have any experience using social networks that you can pass on? If you’re already in one of these networks, how about connecting with me there?

    Well, it looks like Digg,, Stumbleupon, etc. seem to be falling by the wayside and Facebook is taking over. I’ve spent more time on LinkedIn, but am finding it difficult to find my particular ‘tribe’. My ‘official’ Facebook page garnered a further 70 likes this year which is great, but still a drop in the ocean. You can also connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn
  5. Get more guest blog posts

    QUESTION: what are you passionate about that you could write a short article on?

    Still rather underwhelmed by the amount of guest posts I have! This year I had posts from Janet Shell (How do you keep your natural sound yet develop real tone quality?) and Jocelyn Lavin (It’s all arranged).
    If you fancy writing a post on something dear to your heart (and believe me: if I can do it, anyone can!), then drop me a line and let me know that you’d like to write a guest post. 
  6. Re-evaluate exactly what I do

    QUESTION: what is the most important reason that you either attend or lead a choir?

    I asked: “Am I simply a teacher of songs or a community builder or a singing enabler?” And I still don’t have an answer! I suppose the very fact that I keep asking the question keeps my practice alive. 
  7. Run less pop song workshops

    QUESTION: have you ever been labelled in a way that became restrictive? How did you change the situation?

    Well, I managed to succeed in this one! I’ve taken all the pop song workshops off my website and only offer them as an ‘under-the-counter’ option.

    I realised some time ago that not only do I not like choirs singing pop songs, but pop song workshops are actually very advanced and should be advertised as master classes (It’s hard to teach songs that people already know)! 
  8. Re-design the blog

    QUESTION: do you have any hints on how I might best re-design this blog to make it easier to use and nicer to look at?

    As you can see, the blog didn’t get re-designed in 2010! But it’s still very much on my ‘to do’ list. The point I made about freelancers still stands: how do we fit in all the admin (publicity, web design, accounts, etc.) and leave time for our actual job? 
  9. Attract more audiences for choral music

    QUESTION: how do you publicise your own concerts and do you have any tips on how to widen your audience base?

    I wrote about this again during the year as Finding an audience, breaking it down into Identifying what your choir does, Describing what we do, Letting people know, and finishing off with 20 ways to increase your concert audience.

    I’m not sure that I managed to attract more audience to our concerts, and we still get people saying that it wasn’t what they expected, but they really enjoyed it.
  10. Regularly reflect on and evaluate my own working methods

    QUESTION: are there any assumptions you make about singing in a choir that maybe you’re not aware of?

    It’s not enough to reflect on our practice just once a year, it’s something that should be done on a regular basis.

Next week I’ll be looking forward to the coming year and raising some questions which might help you reflect on what you hope to achieve in 2011.


Chris Rowbury's website:


Chris Rowbury


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