Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Could be one, could be t'other...

I am not sure if I need to go to confession again, or if I have missed a golden opportunity.
The singer who requires a good 33.33333 % of our corrective rehearsal time, (and a proportionate lion's share of our teaching-parts-rehearsal-time,) when I made a request of said singer, towards the beginning of last night's final-before-the-marathon-that-is-the-Triduum rehearsal, announced that said singer does not "appreciate being picked on."

Himself's take, as a back bencher, which he expressed to me after rehearsal, was that my reply was firm but conciliatory. Or conciliatory but firm, can't remember the order.

I don't think I had picked on this singer, although I did single out this singer at our last rehearsal, asking the rest of the section to rest their voices while I tried to hammer a mere four notes into this singer's brain for 15 minutes.
(The anthem containing these 4 notes is diatonic, has rhythms of martial consistency, no part crossing, no section dividing, and is in English. And, beginning with a pick-up they are sol do mi do. I am not making this up.)
After that rehearsal I asked some people whose opinion I value if I had been unkind, and they all assured me I had not, but I must have suspected my own behavior or I wouldn't have wondered, eh?

On the other hand this singer takes more time and energy than the rest of the choir combined, and if last night I had answered with an edge in my voice, perhaps this singer would have walked...

This singer sang in the choir under several previous directors, but I had never met this singer as there had been some sort of falling out betwixt singer and director each time, and the Tenor Who Knows Everything raised an eyebrow and sucked his teeth meaningfully at the return.

I don't know.

Oh, and last night when we got to the anthem that had taken so much effort at the previous rehearsal? and those four notes?

As if this singer were sight-reading, and wrong, wrong, wrong and....wrong.


lvschant said...

I had a schola member who was difficult in this way. I spent a good part of my time trying to teach this one individual things. Plus, he lost music continually. When he announced blithely that he had not only lost his entire looseleaf notebook, but also his Gregorian Missal and Liber Cantualis, I loaned him more for the rehearsal.

At the close of rehearsal, as he was leaving with the new books under his arm, I stopped him and just asked that he leave the books behind. This infuriated the man, who also felt I was picking on him when I tried to teach him the music. He stormed out and said he was quitting the choir.

I did not run after him begging him to come back and didn't see him at choir rehearsal again.

So... i know this is going a bit long. It was a big relief not to have to spend so much time on this one singer, but he was such a sad individual, I felt guilty about it ever after. Perhaps I, too, felt down deep that perhaps I had indeed been 'picking' on him a bit.

In retrospect, I would have to say that, as much as the man annoyed me, I wish I had been kinder to him than I was. We can't know what is going on in any other person's mind or heart... it is never wrong to be as kind as possible.

I do wish folks who can't match pitches wouldn't volunteer for choirs, but we seem to have them everywhere.

Scelata said...

The funny thing is, we have an assortment of singers who can't match pitches, singers who are nearly deaf, singers with early stages Alzheimer's, singers who are dyslectic... and I can deal.
I cut a lot of slack, I know that Choir performs social and societal functions for people, as well as a liturgical and creative ones.
But to have this person both usurp so much of our time and energy and then to act victimized by it....
I don't know.

The Lord is my Choirmaster, there is nothing I shall want.

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

lvschant said...

Believe me, I have felt your pain... but consider this:

If you stopped devoting any extra time to this one person in the attempt to get him/her to sing correctly, would he/she sing any worse than he/she does currently? Perhaps just tell the person to sing more softly (however it is that he/she is singing) and leave it at that?

istm, that even with all the time you spent, she/he still got it completely wrong at the crucial moment... give yourself a break :)

The alternatives are to keep wasting group time on this one person and annoying and frustrating yourself... or ask the person to leave... or make the person feel so uncomfortable he/she leaves of his/her own accord. All three of these have definite downsides...

It is a sad situation. I wish you grace and peace with whatever you do... and hope to see you at the Colloquium :)

Anonymous said...

Yep, this is awfully familiar. I worked at a senior center for 14 years. Time after time, I've learned that this job is more about people than the music. Unless you're working with a paid, professional choir, these situations must be dealt with as delicately and compassionately as possible (this, from a guy who just got himself canned).
I, like Ivschant, feel your pain.

-Sir M

Mad Musician said...

He makes all kinds. In His image and likeness. Which makes me wonder...

And just think, we will all be together singing eternal praises to the Almighty (hopefully in perfect harmony!)