Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tonal Tuesdays - Satisfying the Singers

Whenever there is an artistic endeavor, there will be divergent opinions.  A choir is no exception. As a choir member, it is not always easy to be positive about each and every piece you get to sing.  We all have songs we like better than others for many reasons.  Sometimes we don't know what that reason is.

The only time I had to use music I wasn't always pleased to do would be for music festivals with set pieces.  I helped alleviate that problem by volunteering to be on the music selection committee.  That turned out to be myself and the Festival Secretary.  Darn.  Then I didn't get to grumble.

That reminds me of the story of the fellow who opened his lunch box every day and declared, "Peanut butter again." After weeks of this, one colleague suggested perhaps he ask his wife for a different kind of sandwich to which the chap replied, "Oh, I make my own lunch."  You see some of us grumble just to hear ourselves grumble.

As a director, how do you keep everyone happy.  The short answer is that you don't but you can make everyone comfortable with the music.  Our choir often makes suggestions for selections we could use.  I think at one point or another, we have used all.  I truly believe in a collaborative effort in a choir.  If you have a set agenda or style for your choir, that may be harder to accomplish.  Eclectic choices really float my boat.

The way that choir directors I have had over the years got me on side was to tell me WHY we were singing that song.  Sometimes, it fits a theme.  Other times it is perfect to show off one section or another.  I also loved hearing historical facts about the music which put it in context or information about the composer or lyricist that made the music more meaningful,

As directors, we must do our homework and try to choose music that fits our singers.  Sometimes, the words are a challenge like Purple People Eater or the harmony.  You must have challenges but never so much that the choir feels defeated.  It is a fine line but worth exploring.

Above all, HAVE FUN.  Love the music and enjoy your singers and together you will create music that will please your audiences.

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1 comment:

Colleen said...

It is hard to satisfy everyone but you've always been good at getting people to like something that they might have otherwise dismissed offhand. Remember how you got my grade 6 class to adore Harry Belafonte? We used to sing it in the playground and ask to sing for our homeroom teacher. We loved it, but only cause you convinced us! xx