The attendance dilemma
Date: April 30, 2013
Seems like every rehearsal I have 3-4 singers absent, which from a 40ish voice group is about 10%. It's a different 3-4 people every time (although there are some repeat offenders), but overall it acts as a drag on learning, since those few people didn't learn whatever music we were working on and didn't get the markings, etc. No amount of cajoling ever gets most of them to take any steps to make up what they've missed; we've tried sending postcards saying "here's what we worked on," emailed newsletters, posted rehearsal recordings online, etc.
Most of my singers are busy professionals and they typically miss due to work travel or illness. I think they all have legit reasons to miss; it's not like they're skipping rehearsal to drink with buddies or watch Monday Night Football. Lecturing them about not getting sick is a big waste of time.
And of course we have rules in the singer handbook: if you miss more than X rehearsals, you can't sing the concert or have a performance check or whatever. But it's not always the same people, and inevitably some of the major offenders turn out to be key section leaders whom you can't afford to cut. And since we're not in school we can't threaten their grades or make them do detention; there's no way to sanction them short of expulsion, which there are many obvious reasons to want to avoid.
Last night we had what my concert manager calls our "coming to Jesus rehearsal" about three weeks before the concert when the group realizes they barely know some parts of the music. I've worked on everything in rehearsals, but for each section there are those 3-4 people who missed those rehearsals and are essentially sight-reading it. Can't rehearse everything every week. (The good news: many of my singers will do last-minute cramming as a result of this weak rehearsal, and anyway the orchestra will cover up a multitude of sins.)
Anyway, I don't expect there are any magic bullets to solve this. Just venting.
Replies (9): Threaded | Chronological