Monday, March 4, 2013

Thoughts upon arriving home after a choral rehearsal

I admit to being a True Chorister. A choral geek. A person who would rather be singing. In a chorus. I’m there. I’m a choral junkie.

I admit this as a means of acknowledging that I can’t be objective about any of what follows.

I am totally biased: Biased in favor of excellent choral music, which implies a necessity that members of a chorus be prepared, competent, and willing to work hard, with a willing spirit. So yes, I’m biased.

As happens every week, I came away from this evening’s choral rehearsal a little frustrated. I wish that I were not so easily annoyed by the rehearsal habits of other members of the group, but the little annoyances add up to create a drag on our rehearsals, and thus prevent us from attaining real artistry.

Why do some people simply refuse to mark their scores, as we’ve all been instructed to do? If a person loves choral music enough to invest time, money, and energy in joining a choral ensemble, why not make the most of that investment, by bringing your best effort to the ensemble? At some point it seems like sheer stubbornness, or oppositionality, or at the very least, laziness, comes into play for those people who never mark their scores. None of which are good attributes for a chorister. Last week, the director reminded everyone that we must mark our scores, and he said he might be checking scores at tonight’s rehearsal. I’m sure it is simply a coincidence that the two people in my section who never mark their scores were absent from rehearsal this evening.

How can it be that so many members of this auditioned chorus can’t seem to follow the music from page to page? Now granted, the music we were working on has a dense layout – soloists, two choruses, and accompaniment – but it is not in the least unusual. We’ve had the scores for several weeks, and we’ve been rehearsing from them for three weeks. I was astounded to see a half dozen singers sitting near me who had no clue where we were, even on the second and third times we went through a particular passage.

Why do so many people choose to talk during rehearsal? Yes, it’s a choice, and it’s a bad choice. Choristers have two jobs during a rehearsal. They should sing when it is their turn. The rest of the time, they should sit quietly and pay attention to the work that is being done with the other sections. Yes, occasionally – very rarely, in fact – one might need to whisper to a neighbor, “What measure did he say?” or something like that. But almost all other chatter is unnecessary and is a huge distraction to those who are trying to pay attention.

So why do I remain a member of this chorus? Plenty of reasons:

Because the music is good.

Because it’s the only chorus in our area that performs the symphonic repertoire.

Because [I used to think that] the director is The Best, and I learn something new from him every week.

Because I enjoy singing in this ensemble with D. (I watch him from across the rehearsal room.) (xo)

But I reserve the right to be annoyed.

More of my essays on the life of a chorister, and more about choral rehearsals and choral music, may be found here:

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