Monday, November 28, 2022

Work with what you’ve got and not how you want the world to be

There are choir leaders who are disappointed that their singers aren’t doing enough homework in the run-up to a big concert.

There are singers who try in vain to reach the high notes of the melody and who constantly complain about the songs in their choir’s repertoire. But this is what is on offer and fighting against it will always lead to unhappiness.

doing the same thing, but expecting different results

I’ve heard many choir leaders — especially in the lead-up to Christmas — complain that their singers are not on top of the songs, learning only in rehearsal time and not putting in extra work in their own time.

These choir leaders are frustrated, disappointed, stressed and unsatisfied. I bet the same thing happened last year, and the year before that.

Some singers always want to sing the main tune, which is often the highest part. But not all singers can comfortably sing that high. Yet they soldier on regardless, straining their voices and feeling uncomfortable (and usually not producing a very nice sound). These are often the same singers who regularly complain about their choir’s choice of songs. “If only we did more (or less) of these kind of songs.”

These singers are frustrated, disappointed, stressed and unsatisfied. I bet the same thing happened last year, and the year before that.

There’s a pattern here!

Somebody once said

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Maybe these singers and choir leaders are slowly going insane?

work with what you’ve got

Rather than railing against the way things are (and wishing things were different) a much better, and more satisfying strategy, is to work with what you’ve got. Accept the situation or the cards you’ve been dealt and find a way of making it work.

If many of your singers aren’t doing their homework, maybe you could change things so the only learning that needs to happen is within rehearsals. Or perhaps choose simpler repertoire.

See last week’s post A concert is coming, but singers have missed rehearsals and not done their homework! What to do? for more ideas.

If, as a singer, you can’t reach the high notes of the tune, then let that idea go and move to a part that suits your voice better. If you don’t like the choice of songs (but love singing and enjoy the company of your fellow singers), you’ll need to find a way of making them work for you. Or go and join another choir.

As the Buddha pointed out, we suffer when we try to hold onto things or don’t accept what is. Trying to resist or change the way things are, just brings more unhappiness.

sometimes you do need to change

That doesn’t mean that we should put up with any old thing. If a choir leader is being abusive, or we’re being asked to sing a part that doesn’t suit our voice, we should change things, probably by finding a new choir.

As the Serenity Prayer says:

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”

Stop fighting the situation you find yourself in, whether as choir leader or singer. Find a way to work with what is on offer or you’ll end up unhappy. But of course, if something needs to change, then do something about it.

other useful posts

You might find these posts of interest too:

“This is the right space, and these are the right people” – working with the singers you’ve got, not those you hoped for

Don’t stress about things you can’t control

Chris Rowbury


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