“Dare to be honest and fear no labor.” Robert Burns
Last week, I told you the theme for the Choral Potpourri/ Choral Ethics January Blogs would center on the Try Method. Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I am trying four different strategies to change my life for the better. I reasoned four different ways of looking at my life, all the various aspects, would be painless and doable. Instead of specific things, these strategies would be vague so I could decide what I wanted to “try,” and when. Today’s “try” is honesty or truthfulness if you prefer.
I know some of you will remember a blog I wrote in the fall; Honest to a Fault on October 26, 2017. In that piece, honesty did not seem to be the best policy. (Rob* complained about his church choir’s lack of appreciation for his newfound “honesty.”) So wouldn’t it be contradictory for me to write about being honest, myself? No, I don’t think so.
I am basically always honest in my choral rehearsals. I try to be bland in my honesty, never being snotty or snarky, though I don’t have a perfect record in that regard but I do TRY. What I am “trying” this January is to be honest with my commitments and responsibilities; as well, I am trying to speak up when I have been silent, all in the spirit of honesty. I am really “trying” to be honest with myself about what is working in my life as well as what is not.
In our profession, in addition to rehearsals and performances, we have an abundance of other responsibilities, committees, “busy work” and commitments. We may be responsible for all sorts of non-musical things. We may be required to go to committee and board of director meetings. We may be required to attend events or even organize them. All these things, while part of our jobs, are time draining. I never realized how much time, as well as creativity, draining all of these things were until this past fall, when my spouse was having health issues. I learned quickly to say “no” and to decide what was really important and what was not. Being forced to be honest, really honest, about what I could do and could NOT lifted a weight from my shoulders.
I am making a firm commitment to honesty this January, being honest with myself first and what I am able and not able to do, commitment-wise. As much as I would like to sing in a friend’s choral organization this spring, I know I would have spotty attendance due to a number of known issues and had to say no when he asked me to sing with him. It wouldn’t be fair to him or the rest of his singers if I agreed to sing and then not follow through. I am disappointed but know he would be disappointed in me if I flaked out on him. Being honest with him was the right thing to do.
I tend to “go along, to get along” in many instances but it’s not always a good choice. I am “trying” to be honest when I have a legitimate criticism about something. In a recent committee meeting, I honestly expressed my dissatisfaction with our current vender (we’ve used them for years) eventho I have not spoken up about my disappointment before. After we did a bit of research for the best fit for a new vender, the new one is already surpassing the old. In a community organization I am fairly active in, I was honest in my opinion about who would be best to accomplish what needs to be done for an event in March. It’s NOT the person who usually does it; it felt good to know others felt the same! What I’ve realized, being more honest in my committees and other group projects, is that many others agree but have been reluctant to speak up.
There is always the worry of presumed hard feeling when we are honest in the negative. While I don’t think I will always share my honest opinions about issues in those circumstances, I now have the confidence to do so when needed. But I will always, honestly, share my opinions when I LIKE something!