How Important is This Rehearsal?

There is a classic, unanswerable question that seems to constantly be flowing from someone’s lips on the day of almost every rehearsal.  I’m not pointing fingers here, because this is not confined to one person; it’s more of an epidemic.  But last week, a few hours before choir rehearsal, I got a message from one of my singers asking “How important is this rehearsal?”  The singer also paired the question with its equally ridiculous partner, “How much do you need me there tonight?”  So let me answer those questions right now, for all time.

If the rehearsal was not important, we would not be having it.  I would be home watching Parks & Recreation and playing Candy Crush Saga.  If the choir had attained perfection, or was so nearly there that we didn’t need to rehearse, I would tell you all to rest your voices and stay home.  How important is this rehearsal?  Important enough that I have scheduled it, not cancelled it, and am attending it myself.  It is important.

And how much do I need you there?  Ah, well, there we have a far more dangerously political question.  Do you really want to know the answer to that?  Because if you are good at singing, I need you there.  A lot.  If I let all the people who excelled at staying in tune and creating beautiful tones stay home, we would have a group voice lesson, not a rehearsal.  Are you asking me if I think that your presence drags the sound of choir down?  I am not usually so brutally honest with my well-meaning, volunteer singers.  And if you want to go down that road, perhaps it should end with you leaving permanently, no?  Except I do need you.  So please come.  Tonight, and all the other nights.

Look, I know what you’re really trying to say.  You’re trying to get out of the rehearsal, but for some reason you feel that you want my permission in order to do so.  That’s actually nice, in that it makes me feel like a person of some authority.  But as a choir director, if you come up to me and say that you have something else to do, but you could come to choir if needed, how can I tell you not to come?  If you really can’t be there, just call and tell me that something has come up and you can’t be there.  If you call and say “I have a big project due tomorrow, and I could either spend two hours finishing it now, and then go to sleep early, or I could come to choir, and then finish afterward, but I’d rather just get it done now,” well how can I, as a person whose job it is to rehearse the choir, give my blessing?  If you would rather go to a party than to rehearsal, then go to the party!  But I can’t rubber stamp it for you!

Okay, I am being harsh.  There are certainly rehearsals that consist of reviewing something that we know fairly well, and starting to learn something that we won’t be performing for a while, and those rehearsals are somewhat less important than rehearsals in which we suddenly have to learn a new piece in one night and then sing it on Sunday morning.  I will grant you that.  I suppose one could label all of my rehearsals as either “Very Important” or “Crisis Lockdown.”  I can surely inform you if we have an “all hands on deck, prepare to be boarded,” type of situation occurring that would cause you to cancel your uncle’s funeral and attend choir practice instead.  Is that what you are asking me about?

Maybe in the future the best thing to do would be to call and say “I can’t make it to rehearsal tonight.  What am I going to miss?” and then you can decide how important it is for your own musical comfort, that you be at the rehearsal.

Actually, that just gives all of my power and authority away.  Maybe we should go back to the old procedure where everyone just asks my permission, and then I can just always say “No!”  Either way. I’m fine with both systems.

Posted in Choir, Conducting, Music, Rant, Singing, Tenor Tuesday.

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