Monday, February 04, 2019

When patience wears thin – 5 strategies for choir (and other) leaders

Patience is one of the most useful traits a choir leader can have.

But sometimes – despite your best efforts – you become impatient. What can you do to prevent taking it out on your singers?

I’m often complimented on my (apparently) endless patience.

But very occasionally I lose it.

At times like that I can become cross and have been known to take it out on the singers (not a good idea).

It comes as a huge surprise to them since most of the time I am gentle, amiable and amusing!

why you might lose your patience

There are many reasons why your patience might wear thin.

None of them are really to do with what the singers are doing. You should be able to deal with anything that they throw at you. That’s your job!

The fault always lies with the person leading.

It could be that you had a sleepless night, that you’re coming down with a cold, that you’ve got problems in your personal life, and so on.

Whatever it is, it means that you don’t have that bottomless well of patience that you usually draw on.

Another reason that choir leaders can become impatient is that you have become too focused on product and are not totally involved in the process.

If you are trying to create the perfect rendition of a song, or you wish you had better (or more) tenors, or you find your rehearsal space too small (or hot or resonant), then you are doomed.

You have to work with what you’ve got. If you don’t accept the situation in front of you, you are bound to become frustrated and impatient. See Don’t stress about things you can’t control

strategies for when patience wears thin

Here are five ideas you might try next time your patience deserts you.

  1. cancel the rehearsal – if you know you’re going through a bad patch or are coming down with a cold, be kind to yourself (and your singers!) and cancel until you’re back on an even keel.
  2. take a break – this involves being quite self-aware, but as soon as you realise you’re starting to become impatient, have a break. It’s the choral equivalent of counting to ten. Have a cup of tea, rethink your plan at that point, take your mind off the situation – whatever works. Then come back refreshed and calm.
  3. utilise your anger – it may be that getting impatient once a year or so can be a good tool. If your singers are used to you being really laid-back, then giving them a glimpse of the core of steel that is always inside you can knock them out of their complacency. Don’t do it too often though!
  4. take stock – take this as an opportunity for self-reflection. After the session, reflect on why you lost your patience. If it’s just life getting in the way, then let yourself off the hook a bit. But if it happens regularly, or it’s always prompted by the same thing, or it’s to do with too much focus on product, then you can change your ways.
  5. move on – OK, so you had a difficult session. You felt impatient, but were able to not let that show to your singers. Now it’s time to move on. The next session will be different, so don’t dwell on it.

You might also like to read Is there an alternative to being patient when leading a choir?

I’d love to hear what you do when you get impatient in a rehearsal or workshop. It happens to us all! Do drop by and leave a comment. I do read them all.

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Chris Rowbury



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Chris Rowbury


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