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The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

Choral Caffeine: A Wake-up Call

No matter how fast we work, it seems as though the “To Do’ list grows out of control at this crazy-busy time of the season.  Unfortunately, amid the myriad details swirling around us in that twisting vortex, it is all too easy to lose sight of the humanity of our craft.  We become bedazzled by the product and forget the power of the process.
Writing in the most recent edition of the Oklahoma ACDA newsletter, Tutti, Darla Eshelman puts this into clear focus for us:
If you were a medical student practicing appendectomies, you would take your work very seriously because you could imagine that some night at 2:00 a.m. someone is going to come into your emergency room and you are going to have to save his life.
Well, my friends, someday at 10:00 a.m. a student is going to walk into your classroom, or perhaps at 8:00 p.m. someone is going to enter your concerts hall, and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary.  Whether they go out whole again from your rehearsal or concert will depend partly on how well you practiced your craft.
May we all be encouraged to embrace every teaching and conducting moment with this knowledge of why choral music really matters.
Think about THAT 30 seconds from now when the next student enters your office . . .
(For additional articles on a dazzling array of choral topics, visit  ChorTeach.)
on April 18, 2012 1:14pm
Oh Scott, thank you, thank you thank you!  I read something like this a few years ago and think it applies to many aspects of our musical arts, not just our choral rehearsals or concerts.  One of my private students came to her lesson this morning late, having a bad day and just generally unhappy. I could have complained about her being late and refused to teach her or could have told her it didn't matter to me what her problem took about five minutes to soothe her and it made such a difference. She told me she had planned to skip her lesson but was happy she had come. That made ME feel good.
It takes no effort--or at least, it shouldn't take effort--to be kind or compassionate.  It takes no effort to take a little extra time or not be quick with a snarky comment orto  let someone catch their breath.
I think of an old hymn, myself, when I am confronted with this situation with a student or a singer in my chamber choir.  I hear it in my mind or hum it to myself and then I do the right thing--"There is a Balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole, There is a Balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul."
I preach this because I believe it.  Thank you for including this in the ChoralBlog today.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on April 18, 2012 3:42pm
Worth remembering, and repeating.
This reminds me of the following well-known address:
on April 20, 2012 7:50am
Thank-you for the post.  Our work as choir directors, choral artists, goes far beyond the music.  We are counselor, mentor, teacher, friend, parent, and a whole host of other roles.  That is why love being a choral musician so much. Not only do I have the opportunity to create with such a powerful medium as music, but am able to make a difference in people's lives, whether they are one of my students, choir members or audience members.  Choral music really matters on so many levels.
Brian Eggers