I think everyone seeks validation in life, as a matter of course. We all want to feel like we matter, like we can achieve something positive.
Choral conducting is a long game. It’s a reality of the job that many of the goals towards which we work so assiduously are long term goals. Quick-fixes and magic tricks aside, the fact is that the building blocks of excellence take some time to become second nature, especially if you only rehearse once a week and take summers off. When I plan goals, I generally am working on a multi-year plan. Which isn’t to say that we don’t have many smaller successes on the way – indeed, planning for those is part of my job, too. But on the whole, it’s a rare occurrence for me to be able to say – alright, that big thing we wanted to do is achieved. What next?
When it does happen, though, there’s no better feeling. Which is why I’m feeling so pleased after my rehearsal last night with my community choir. When I took over three years ago, it was clear that the priorities had to be working on the sense of ensemble, and working on getting the sopranos to sing in their high range comfortably. It was also clear that this was going to take awhile, so I put it on a five-year plan. But last night, even though we are still very much in the learning phase of this program, we had some great, easy moments of real choral unity – and the sopranos just soared on their high notes. I still don’t think they love singing them – but they sound like they do, and I’ll take that for now.