“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” Thomas Jefferson
In the last two weeks, I have had five people contact me about politics. I don’t mean friends or family or acquaintances sharing Facebook stuff but CHORAL DIRECTORS wanting advice about how to handle political conversations during rehearsals. These are nasty and unpleasant conversations, often disrupting their rehearsals. Three of the five directors direct adult community choruses and two direct church music programs. All tell me, in some fashion, there are hurt feelings abounding because of what has been said before, during or after rehearsal. How should they stop it? I have no idea!
I had a taste of what these folks are talking about during my own November concert, right after the presidential election. One of my singers was being a “sore winner” and making nasty remarks about the loser to his colleagues during intermission in our Green Room. Those colleagues told me and…..sigh…..after the fact, there was little for me to do. We start rehearsals again in a few weeks. And I have been thinking about how to handle the potential political disagreements I am afraid will occur.
After really, really, really thinking about how to calm the waters in rehearsals during, you must agree, one of the most difficult times in our history, I’ve come up with a few ideas. These are not the End All or The Answer to this problem, but I hope to defuse some of the unpleasantness before it begins with a few of these come-backs. I will use them if I need to but, perhaps, I won’t need to–I can only hope!
- I declare rehearsal time–before, during and after–a “politics-free zone” with NO EXCEPTIONS.
- We are all here for the music. If you want to talk about music, talk about the music. If you want to talk about politics, don’t.
- Your fellow singers are your friends. Friends don’t hurt friends on purpose.
- Think of choir practice like a Fancy Formal Family Dinner Party or other Important Social Gathering; you don’t talk about Politics or Religion (if yours is a church choir, then you DO talk about religion) or Sex during that time. Even if you all agree on the Politics or Religion or Sex!
- We are united when we sing. We have shared dreams and goals, together, when we sing. Sing more, talk less.
- Some of us in choir have the same political view. Some of us have the opposite view. There is room for all views in choir. If we are able to be pleasant and kind to each other, we can work together for the greater good of our choir.
I would love to hear your solutions and your comments and what you have done in your own situations. Please feel free to respond here. Thank you in advance!