I feel the need to make a very public “thank you” to one of our singers. One of the things that Toni and I believe really strongly in is the importance of our singers having a voice in what we do. This should permeate every part of who we are as a choir – not just the planned things like song suggestions, but everything we do. We will always take a leadership position, making decisions on what to do that we think is in the best interests of the choir, but we can only do that wisely if we’re guided by the thoughts and views of our singers.
Mo got in touch with us a couple of weeks ago, with some feedback about the sessions. She felt as though they were becoming harder and harder work, and she wasn’t having half as much fun as she did when she started singing with us. I invited her to come and grab 5 minutes with me before the start of the next session, so we could chat about it. I wanted to get to the bottom of what was causing her unhappiness with the sessions, and she wanted me to understand it too. We had a good chat, and about halfway through it I had one of those “lightbulb coming on” moments. The problem was that I’d got so caught up in working on the detail of each song, I was kind of polishing everything as we went, without allowing any time to just enjoy singing. Taking that approach meant that the sessions were feeling like hard work – so much time focussing on small details and concentrating hard were making everything feel like being back at school (in a bad way). Mo understood that there’s a balance to be struck between just having a good old sing and striving for high standards, but she felt the balance was swinging too far one way. I promised her I’d take on board what she’d said, and try to rebalance things.
I reflected on these comments for a few days, and it changed my outlook on the weekly sessions. I threw myself into a slightly different approach – not actually skimping on the detail at all, but making sure that we did lots of singing things through. One thing I’d got caught up in was stopping whenever I heard a mistake, rather than singing through the section then going back to fix the mistake. I’ve made a conscious effort to change this, and the results have been immediate. The sessions have felt like a lot more fun – singers have commented to me on how much they’ve enjoyed the last session or two, and I’ve enjoyed them a lot more as well.
So – thanks Mo. Your comments came at just the right time, and they’ve made a difference to the whole choir. And if anyone else has any feedback about how we do things – please let us know – you might just make a big difference too.