Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tonal Tuesdays - Choir as Democracy

I was reading a post from Liz Garnett's blog on how a choir is NOT a democracy.  Chris Rowbury another choir blogger suggested that she was absolutely right.  I agree that someone has to have the final say in choosing music, final style choices, venues etc.  However, I feel very strongly that there should be input from the choir and that they should all know that although we cannot always act on every suggestion they have been heard and taken seriously.

I know that the other members of our do not want my job as the director.  I have asked so I really do know.  However, we have never come to loggerheads about any issues.  Sometimes, it just takes a quick whole choir discussion to settle on an idea and sometimes it takes a private discussion with a member who has a strong opinion.  All of that I believe, strengthens the collective feeling in the group.  I can say, "I understand how you might not like singing in unison but can you see how this song will work as a song merely for fun?"  If the majority really feels strongly then why would I continue with it.  I have been know to come back to a song later on with a different tack.

When my sister was working with a choir in Georgetown, Guyana, they had just come out from under a 25 year dictatorship.  They didn't know how to trust each other.  Being in a choir, helped them to understand co-operation when they had been forbidden to even speak to others in the past.  So even though Margie was the leader and they did what she said, they worked together to get the desired result.  That to me is a true democracy.  There are leaders whom we choose and allow to set our course.  We then, are working together to make the best country, school, club etc. happen.  We do need our leaders to be listening and bringing forth OUR concerns.  To me, a choir is no different.  Margie's choir helped them to understand the democratic way.  Cool.

Although, I do understand what Chris was saying about a being a "benign dictator",  I absolutely do NOT ever want to be considered such.  If something we are working on is going to cause division or dislike, I would rather not push that upon the choir.  Part of my pleasure is the sheer joy of sharing music we love collectively or have come to love.  Benign or otherwise, dictatorship is not where I choose to be nor would I want to work with that model.

Have you had similar experiences even outside a musical group?  What are your feelings?


Colleen said...

Quite frankly I wouldn't want to be part of a choir that wasn't a democracy. How is that fun?

Embro Thistle Singers said...

Amen. As I said, there is nothing benign about a dictatorship. We at ETS are all about the FUN while making great sounds. Oh yeah!!