In our brand new Choral Clarity Facebook Community, I posed this important question:
If you could create the ideal choral position for yourself, what would it be? Age level? Public/private? Size? Schedule? Those are just examples of specificity. Let’s dream together!
This question may seem like a waste of time to some of you, but I would argue it is the most important question we will ever ask ourselves, AND we must ask this same question as frequently as possible.
What I posed is just the starting point to envisioning our “dream job.” Based on the tangible job description, many of us might appear to already have our ideal choral position on paper, but current circumstances/obstacles surrounding our job prevent it from being fulfilling.
With all of the valid issues that plague us at our current positions, too often, the LARGEST issue is simply our lack of choral vision. All of those seemingly large roadblocks (low male enrollment, poor scheduling, poor retention, apathetic singers, low budget, lack of support from community, etc.) are not as large as they may seem once we have created a real vision for our long-term ideal job.
Creating a choral vision
A choral vision begins with a choral dream, recognizes our current reality, and sets tangible baby steps that continually move in the direction toward achieving that dream.
The Choral Dream: Two parts to our vision
There are the main aspects to the ideal choral position: the nuts & bolts and the flow. In the question that I posed to the Choral Clarity Facebook Community, I only focused on the nuts & bolts. The flow encompasses the culture and inner-workings of the program. Step 1: If you could have any dream choral job, what would it be? Is it public or private school? Is it a church job? Is it a semi-professional group or a community ensemble? What age is group? What is the schedule? How many ensembles? What is the size of each ensemble? Are they auditioned or y’all come? Everything logistical needs to be envisioned.
After taking some time to dream about our ideal position and schedule, we need to envision the culture of our program? Step 2: Describe the atmosphere and culture that will exist within our rehearsal and/or in our program. Are rehearsals silent (when not singing) and intense or are they relaxed and productive? Are rehearsals teacher-led or student-driven? Are decisions made specifically by us or is there a board members who make decisions. Are there lots of choir leaders or are we the main person who coordinates all activities? Is the program focused more on serving the community or focused more on excellence? Does our choir travel?
We may possess your potential dream job and not know it
Sometimes the grass looks greener elsewhere. Other experienced directors with a clear vision have built a beautiful program that we wish we had. We don’t realize the many steps that were taken by that visionary to build their special program. If our dream is to start a semi-professional choir and you teach elementary school, it’s obvious that our current job is not going to move you in that direction. On the other hand, if our goal is to have a successful secondary-level program and our current job at the secondary level hinders us with countless crippling obstacles, we may just need a clearer vision that points us in a new direction; our dream position might be the one we already have. https://soundcloud.com/user-456340186/beauty-shines-ssa-unaccompanied-with-optional-percussion
The Choral Plan vs the Morphing Choral Program
All choral programs will morph over time into something different. Will our choral program morph on it’s own or will it be our vision that directs these gradual changes? The longer we stay at our job, the more we will see a cultural shift. If our situation shifts further and further away from the program you have always wanted, it is quite likely that a clear enough vision has not been created.
Are we chasing our dream or chasing our tail?
When we have a vision of where we want to go, AND intentionally move in the direction of our dream, we will immediately see positive momentum. The idea of a choral vision is not just waking up the next day and having everything suddenly the way we want it. Nothing will ever be perfect, and as soon as we have reached our dream position, we may begin to have a new, or even clearer dream.
Reaching our Dream job requires more than planning for rehearsals and concerts
A dream is a clear vision of what we want. Many of us feverishly plan: we plan our rehearsals to the minute and we plan our concert repertoire waaay in advance. But these plans are not connected to our dream. A dream encompasses the essence and culture of a program, it’s relationship with the community, and the fulfillment of all who are involved. It transcends beyond specific concerts, seasons, years and individuals. Once we have envisioned our ideal situation, we must make every practical decision with that dream in mind. These decisions are big picture decisions, not minute-by-minute decisions. We must prioritize our focus on the aspects of our program that can move us in the right direction. If we are pointed in the direction of reaching our choral dream, every day and every decision will bring us one step closer to our ideal position. As we move toward our ideal situation, we should be able to find joy in the progress.
Here are three tips to turn your current position into your ideal job:
Stay away from negativity – focus our energy on new things that you can try, not on things that can’t work or haven’t worked.
Find a new angle – whatever issue/obstacle that currently exists, there is a solution. If we haven’t figured out a solution to the issue, it means we haven’t taken a step back far enough to see another way.
Focus on one small step at a time – Assuming an obstacle or issue is a 10 out of 10 in terms of it’s impact, our goal is to bring down it’s effect to a 7 or 8. When we aim for small but tangible improvements, the wheels will begin rolling in the right direction.