“‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” Alice Walker
If you regularly read the newspaper or online versions of “Dear Abby” or “Miss Manners” or “Ask Amy”, you are certain to read a letter or two (or three or four) from a Disgruntled Grandma and her Sisters. Usually Granny has sent her grandkids gifts or money for their birthdays or holidays or weddings and has not heard back from her progeny’s progeny in any way shape or form. She doesn’t know if they liked the gift or even if it arrived. She DOES know those Stinkers got the money however, since they had no trouble cashing her checks. What has ticked her off this time, after not hearing a word from them for years’ worth of gifts and money? This time was the last straw and she has finally had it. She asks the above mentioned Sages for their opinion about not sending anything to her ungrateful descendants. All agree she should stop if she feels so inclined and if she is asked why, she should tell them.
I get a LOT of Choral Ethics emails about thank yous, or the lack thereof. Usually, it’s the accompanist who feels underappreciated, especially if they go above and beyond for a concert and rightly so. If a colleague goes out of their way for you, you SHOULD thank them. I suggest to accompanists who are paid, perhaps their director feels a check is enough. If they are asked to perform miracles on a regular basis and do not feel appreciated for going that extra distance, it may be time to look for a better gig. All of those bad feelings could be avoided with a ‘thank you’—spoken, written, doesn’t matter–from their director. I’ve written at least two other blogs about this very fact.
Sometimes, its choral singers or soloists who think they should be thanked more, either as a group or individually. Understandable but not necessary eventho it would be NICE if that happened. I tell them to stay with the choir if you like the comradery and music. Keep being a soloist if the pay is good and you like the experience. Otherwise, move on. And like Abby or Amy or Miss Manners, my advice is to tell them why you will no longer participate if you are asked.
Today’s Choral Ethics “thank you” dilemma comes from Raul*, a choir director from the south. He has, for the last four years, lent his choir’s risers to a colleague across town whose winter choral concert is in mid-December. Since Raul’s winter concert is in mid-January, it has worked well. The first year he lent them, it was agreed they would get the risers back before everyone left for winter break. For the first two years, that was exactly what happened. Raul was never thanked for lending the risers, but things seemed cordial and congenial between the two.
The third year, Raul had to call and remind return of the risers before winter break. His colleague was a bit short with him and explained he couldn’t get them back to him before the break. He said if Raul wanted them before he would have to arrange it himself. And he did. Last year, not only did his colleague NOT get his risers back to him before winter break, he avoided Raul’s emails and calls trying to arrange their return. It was January 7 before he was able to get the risers back and Raul was very unhappy. For four years Raul has lent risers and was never thanked. The last two years, the agreement they had made was not honored and there was no apology.
The beginning of November, Raul was contacted by this colleague who wants to borrow the risers again. And Raul’s been avoiding him. These risers are not being rented; Raul program has been lending them (with permission from his program director who is the one who put that stipulation on their return). Raul feels he’s been taken advantage of. He does NOT want to lend them this year, or any year and wants to know what to do.
I asked Raul why he did not want to lend them again. He says there is the hassle factor; if he does lend them, he does not feel with any certainty they will be returned when stipulated. It was a real mess and worry last year and he doesn’t want to go through the same thing this year. His colleague never thanked him, or his program director or his choir for lending the risers. There was no apology for not being able to return them when they were supposed to. I asked Raul if they HAD been thanked or had gotten an apology would he feel differently about lending the risers. He said probably.
I suggested if he doesn’t want to lend them this year, he shouldn’t. But he needs to respond soon so this doesn’t drag on. Be very forthright and say he is not able to lend the risers this year. And if asked why, tell him!