MSI Director's Philosophy....

"....courtesy, thoughtful respect and common sense...."

Audition to "include", not "exclude"....!

FACT: In this day and age, people have a myriad of evening and daytime commitments, which often can and do conflict with rehearsal schedules and concert performances.   How do we as choral conductors deal with, and attempt to solve, this obvious statement of fact to the benefit of our own community chorus and its progressive growth?  

Do we (as community chorus directors) really understand the following statements?  And do we honestly start rehearsals with this basic premise in mind........???

 #1    In any 'true' community chorus, it only seems logical that if people want to attend rehearsals and sing, they will.

#2.    In any 'true' community chorus, it only seems logical that if people do not want to attend rehearsals and sing, they will not.


Logical assumptions, if,....
the chorus members (1) are not obligated to attend rehearsals because of fulfilling required college credit(s), (2) are not  being made to harbor a sense of guilt for missing rehearsals, and (3) are not made to feel ultimately responsible for another person's (specifically the director's) obvious misrepresentation of stated and/or written facts.  

I am constantly reminded of what Dr. Howard Swan taught me in one of my early choral conducting classes at Occidental College.  

"If you are the chorus director and something goes wrong in your first rehearsal and you are unable fix it, go home and look in the mirror and ask yourself 'what am I doing wrong'?  If, in your second rehearsal the same thing goes wrong and you are unable to  fix it, go home and look in the mirror and ask yourself 'what am I doing wrong?'  Finally, if in the third rehearsal the same problem persists and you are unable to fix it,  you then have the right to go to the mirror and blame "yourself" again.    NEVER BLAME THE CHORUS!"         
                                                                                              ............................................................Thank you Dr. Swan!


What is my goal? 
I want  to attract and assemble a group of  200 to 250 registered members.  From this group of 200-250 registered members, I would hope (not expect)  that there would be a minimum of 60 to 100+ actual performing members who could and would  want to sing, and, each in his or her own individual way,  faithfully commit to one, two, or all three of our regularly scheduled season rehearsals & concerts.   (December - April - August). 

If an individual singer is willing to give of his or her time to rehearse and perform with the MSI, the very least I can do as a choral conductor is to allow him or her the opportunity to experience their singing wants, needs and desires (with regard to actively participating) during those periods of time conducive to their busy work schedules and  family responsibilities.  The chorus members certainly should not have to work around my schedule.   Sensible programming, proper rehearsal time scheduling, and use thereof is an absolute given.  This is a responsibility that can only be reconciled by the director and his or her sincere use of "common sense".

The learning of notes, interpretation and style can be achieved very easily through utilizing an effectively prepared rehearsal technique based on constructive musical repetition and thoughtful clarification of all individual vocal lines (as necessary),   Obviously, the responsibility of achieving this goal lies directly with the Director and his or her ability to
listen (first), make constructive comments (second), and be able to lead (and follow) while conducting (third).  Yes, "follow"!  If we as conductors cannot follow then how can we expect to lead. The world seems to be full of so called good "leaders" but I never hear anything about good "followers".  

The responsibility for the above simply stated facts lies with the Director and his/her rehearsal approach and demeanor with regard to each and every individual chorus member as being part of the whole in rehearsal and/or performance.  

The rehearsal  serves to facilitate and achieve the learning of large choral masterworks through immediate attention (starting with the very first rehearsal) to style and interpretation.  The notes and text will follow!
   Notes are never as important as interpretation and musicianship.  However, and obviously,  the ultimate goal should be the equality and combining of the two (notes and musicianship/interpretation).  Again, nothing more than "courtesy", "thoughtful respect" and "common sense".

As for chorus rules,  Master Singers, Inc. has none, neither written nor stated.

ETHICS AND RULES:  If a choral group must have rigid, solid rules, regulations, signed letters of intent, and such, then they must be rigidly and solidly adhered to by each and every member of the chorus, and especially the Director.  Solid rules are inevitably going to be broken or bent.  If the director purposely or inadvertently overlooks this, the group's morale and cohesiveness will and can be jeopardized.  This can and always does lead to an underlying current of confusion, misunderstanding and ultimately an atmosphere of discontent and questionable equality among individual chorus members.

 

HOWEVER,  if there are specific, fair and properly administered rules and regulations in place and all chorus members are properly informed and treated with equality, fairness and respect,  any "true" community chorus can survive and grow knowing that the only "true" rules are "courtesy", "thoughtful" respect", and "common sense".  The Director must absolutely exemplify and maintain this "true" honesty among his/her singers.  And, more importantly, the Director must accept any and all responsibility for the proper or  (improper) administering of these "common sense" expectations.

The Master Singers Chorale approach to the rehearsal is to immediately begin with the interpretation and style while constantly and sincerely striving to create an atmosphere of knowledge based learning, enlightenment and vocal/choral accomplishment and rapid achievement of the best possible choral experience (as perceived by the chorus members, not the director). And, by the way, the notes will come.

I want singers to be allowed to sing with the freedom of knowing that they can sing while experiencing a meaningful and constructive "no time wasted" rehearsal.  This last statement is easily stated as fact yet very difficult to appropriately apply.  The chorus members are the only ones who can honestly evaluate a "no time wasted" rehearsal, and not the Director. 

To that end, I have dedicated my time and effort to each and every singer’s personal circumstance while sincerely attempting  to adapt accordingly for the betterment of the whole group. 

I merely want each singer to enjoy a choral experience in their own private and personal way while knowing that they are an integral and important part of the rehearsal procedure and ultimate final performance. AND, most importantly, I want them to know (individually) that they are truly appreciated.

The support of the Northeast Ohio community has been overwhelming.  I am fulfilling a lifelong desire with the Master Singers Chorale and proving that choral masterworks have a large and appreciative following in our community.   I am thankful to the group of friends and musicians, who suggested I do something to expand, develop and encourage a higher degree of performance standard for a true community chorus in Northeast Ohio.  I have formed an organization that brings the best of orchestra members together with experienced and novice vocalists.  It is my desire to make music, which emanates the passion, style and emotion that each choral composition so richly deserves. And, to adhere strictly to the highest of standards with regard to rehearsal procedures and performances.