“Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.” Rudyard Kipling
In last week’s Blog, I mentioned for the month of July I would be blogging about things to get you thinking. Last week, I asked what you need to do a good job right before a concert. This week, I want to know what you do during the summer to get yourself ready for fall. Do you do nothing? Do you work just as hard as you do during the choir year? Do you take a working vacation? Do you head out to the country so there are no distractions? Do you run to the city to soak up culture? Do you sing with someone else? Work at a Theme Park? What do you do?
Most civilians think choral directors take the summer off. They imagine us lying in the sun, a floppy hat on our head and a cool, adult beverage in our hand. In their minds, we are draped across a lounge chair dozing our cares away. Hah! If they only knew!
Many of us take courses or private lessons during our time off in the summer. Some of us may be the ones teaching those courses or giving those lessons. Our state ACDA chapters may be having meetings or sight reading opportunities. Summer might be the only time we have time for all-important professional development.
During summer break, our choruses may be singing at Garden Walks in our communities or singing the National Anthem at a ballgame. It may appear effortless, but you and I know we have to practice for those things so we sound nice next to the hydrangeas! Plus, it’s nice to get together with our singers in another environment and sing something different. We also have choir retreats, either toward the beginning of summer (my chamber choir has ours the Saturday after July 4th) or a week or so before rehearsals begin again in the fall. A relaxed atmosphere does wonders for choir morale.
We might be at the lake, but instead of dozing, we listen to music or study scores. Our minds can relax and soak up the music as we go at our own pace, instead the fast-paced clip we usually need to operate at. There is something so refreshing about listening or studying music in the midst of nature!
And, of course, there is the planning we do in the summer. We choose repertoire. We choose new venues. We audition and prepare for those auditions. Perhaps we plan something new for this fall with our choirs; like singing in an art gallery or organizing a coat drive for the December concert. In order to stay fresh, we need to try new things. Summer is the perfect time to plan something outside of the box. Whatever you do during the summer, I hope you take time for reflection as well.