I’ve enjoyed and endured thousands of hours of rehearsals, all of which have strengthened my conviction that I thrive under a leader who is structured but relaxed. I aim to conduct my own classes in this way and will continue doing so until otherwise instructed, as I believe it fosters the learning process.
Incredibly, Maria and I just began rehearsals for another show at the Don’t Tell Mama Cabaret. We’ll be part of their Autumn in New York series. It’s a fantastic opportunity and we’re working hard to surpass the level of enjoyment experienced at our last show. Trust me, though, I am anxious in the extreme about learning music and words that I have never performed in public. It helps greatly that we have musicians who are easy-going, fun, and knowledgeable about their craft. I flubbed the lyrics of several songs, but we all simply carried on. Why? Because we all know that my memory will improve as I practice on my own and with the musicians. There was no yelling, name-calling, or any negativity. I left feeling another successful performance would be ours.
Back in the day, I endured rehearsals where the level of drama was at a fever pitch. Leaders banged batons, screeched, used profanity, and generally exhibited all manner of inappropriate behavior while the chorus or group sat stoically by and then discussed it later amongst themselves. At one point, I composed a letter to a leader that he claimed he never forgot and promised he has to this day. As his temper and outbursts gradually lessened, I felt vindicated that my letter had done its job. Once removed from the situation, I came to understand that he hoped the members of the group would learn the pieces faster in order for the rehearsals to move at a smoother pace. The process, however, was truly traumatic and highly dramatic. Later on, Maria and I got through it with our ever-present humor.
Not blaming all on the leaders, I take full responsibility for any smart-mouthed comments I might have made. After all, I was, and am certainly, no angel. For the most part, though, I’ve been an attentive member of all the groups in which I’ve participated. It’s true, however, that one bad apple can almost spoil the whole bunch. Regarding one of our groups, we definitely feel a positive shift in the air now that there is a change in membership. Rehearsals are fun and productive, and members are eager to share musical ideas. We’re reveling in the knowledge that a group where people feel free to make constructive criticism is more productive than everyone holding their breaths in fear of a volatile outburst.
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