Nitpicker Returns! Of course.
  • Today was the choir's first Sunday back. I walk in and am immediately confronted by the staff relations chairman "I need to talk to you". Okay. Someone complained because of a comment I made during Wednesday's rehearsal about a serious problem we had last week with the slides. Half the people don't want them, the other half do. That setup was in place long before I was there and I'm not about to start a battle over it. But, if we must have them, they need to be done right. The secretary was put in charge of them, but she isn't a musician. This happens a lot, it's not her fault, nor did I say it was. Many choir members were upset by the mistakes last week and so was I-and I told them even though it's not really a task I want to take on that I would prepare the slides if there were continued problems or the secretary was overwhelmed by it. The secretary is a lovely woman and I have absolutely nothing against her. Nitpicker twisted what I said and went running to tattle to the pastor and staff relations chair, saying that I was saying derogatory things about the secretary. Uh, where did you get that idea?

    Pick about how I look, fine whatever. Make up blatant LIES? That's crossing the line from nitpicking to intimidation and abuse.

    So, now I know that this person is someone in choir.

    I don't take this stuff lightly. I don't take anything lightly, I'm not by any stretch of the imagination a "chill" sort of person, but you all already know that. I tolerate a lot-too much, actually, but lying is NOT on my list of things to tolerate. Ever.

    Furthermore, I really felt it was unnecessary to have this thrown in my face before the service this morning-a decision made no doubt by the pastor, who had little to say to me. He's great at making others do his dirty work because he's a coward and avoids conflict. The staff relations chair is a very kind person and had the unfortunate duty of telling me all this today. There's still people who miss the old choir director even though most people were glad to see her go, and because I can never be her I guess I'm just a punching bag for whatever their problem of the day is (a suggestion made by staff relations chair for the almost instantaneous bad treatment I am getting). Bearing that in mind, both director and pianist resigned on bad terms-primarily because they were also sick of the same abuses now being thrown at me. It's so senseless that a few unhappy people are allowed to continue infecting what is mostly a good church and a wonderful music ministry. I am hoping that a resolution can be reached. I have an admin meeting at the end of the month and I think I need to address this before it gets worse. I am an abuse survivor and I know all the tricks and tactics these kinds of people use. They can't fool me, and they won't succeed with me. This group is great and I refuse to allow one cold hearted person to ruin everything.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,890
    You could hit her with your car in the parking lot and swear the brakes failed.
    Thanked by 1Vilyanor
  • Get out of there. Period. From the sounds of it, you aren't going to win this one. You've got an attack sheep in your choir.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Fidem,

    Take a deep breath. Take another one. Particularly because
    I am an abuse survivor and I know all the tricks and tactics these kinds of people use. They can't fool me, and they won't succeed with me

    Win or lose on the merits, you should try to not let (whoever) get you on your back foot. Ask your patron saint for help. Ask your guardian angel for help. Once you've behaved "defensively" or "divisively", your "unwillingness to work as part of the team" or, "being dictatorial" or [fill in particular insult which has no basis in fact], will be the starting point for anything you say. If someone says "Let's use coke and cookies for Mass today", absolutely everything you say will be seen as divisive, controlling, or whatever.

    If you've got to lose, at least you want to hold your head high doing so.
    Thanked by 1FidemInFidebus
  • Clerget is spot on!


    This is a garden of nettles for those who thrive on constant conflict and abuse.
  • But see, they don't scare me. I was nothing but cordial, professional, poised, and surprised when I spoke with the staff relations guy today. I was blindsided, but didn't say a single defensive thing. I apologized even though I didn't do anything wrong, I definitely did not intend to say anything hurtful and DIDNT say anything hurtful about the secretary. The poor woman was ditched by her useless ex, barely scrapes by trying to raise her three kids, has a heart of gold, works hard and does her best. I offered to relieve some of her stress. How was that insulting? That's right it wasn't. This cowardly person has been allowed to behave this way because no one has ever told them to stop. It may take some careful thought and planning but that MUST be addressed.
    You can't scare me. I've seen a lot and been through a lot. I've been abused. I've been homeless. I have a sister doing 25 to life in the state penitentiary for a crime she didn't commit.

    As for the garden of nettles, I will starve it and deny it water and make tasty tea out of it. And I know not to handle it with my bare hands...
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,679
    I think it might be fair to ask the pastor: "Is it true? Did Fidem insult the secretary?"

    And he, if he has an ounce of honesty, will have to say, "I don't know. I wasn't there."

    Which is an important point.

    One of the suggestions in the fine book "When Sheep Attack" is that staff should make an agreement with the pastor, that he will not entertain any complaints about the staff member without the person present.
  • @Chonak and everyone else:

    I called the pastor first thing this morning. We had a good talk. And he said MANY time "I don't know, I wasn't there." He knows these people are off the rails but he doesn't know how to stop them. He said it was even worse when he started there a year ago. He knows I didn't insult anyone. He's also read "When Sheep Attack" and recommended some other similar books.
    Maybe I am totally insane for thinking this but perhaps one of my reasons for being called to this place was to help get this situation straightened out. The pastor suggested calling a meeting if a similar attack happens again (which we both know it will). The other music ministers just let it slide and build to a point they decided they couldn't deal with it anymore and up and left. This worked for the pastor because he was new himself and didn't know what to do. I don't let things slide, and now he has to find a solution because that's what I'm about. The best thing anyone can do is tell me something can't be done. Can't get married that young it won't last. 13 years and counting. Can't have a third kid how can you afford it, what about college? (Actually had some family members stop speaking to me over this) Had her and finished that spring semester 36 weeks pregnant, was having contractions during my theory finals. Boom. Took a semester off, went right back to what I was doing and finished my undergrad and master's in 7 years while raising all three of my kids, used to go over to the campus daycare to nurse my daughter on my lunch breaks while studying for exams. Graduated with a 3.9 gpa. I'll have it done before you give me all the reasons why it can't be done.

    I am tough but I'm also human, and I let the pastor know how upsetting this incident was, and that I didn't appreciate being a punching bag for these people. I'm actually looking forward to the next bag of crap they're going to throw at me, because the pastor is ready to put them in their place and they won't see it coming.
  • >>> Had her and finished that spring semester 36 weeks pregnant, was having contractions during my theory finals.

    Fidem you rock !! the troublemaker(s) don't know who they're dealing with! :-)
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Vilyanor
  • Fidem,

    Does this mean that you and the pastor are making common cause with each other?

  • The best thing anyone can do is tell me something can't be done. etc. . . .

    Mrs. Double F, you are one hell of a woman.
  • He's also read "When Sheep Attack" and recommended some other similar books.

    But did not agree to make a covenant with you and other staff, as suggested by this book.

    Time to leave.
    Thanked by 1melofluent
  • Weird double post sorry

    But now it deleted my previous comment? Sigh
  • @noel jones: No, not yet, and not in those exact words. But he agrees that these people need to be stopped. He's only been there for a year and dealt with the same crap from the same people. My feeling is that he's too afraid to pull the trigger-until now.
    @Chris Garton-Zavesky to answer your question, yes I believe so.
    The admin meeting is on the last Saturday of this month, and I'm sure it will be a very um,
    spirited discussion.

    In GOOD news, because in all of this nonsense there are good things happening, the choir sang beautifully on Sunday. The men's quartet wanted to meet with me after service for a sort of emergency meeting. Their oldest member is almost 90 and is having surgery on the 21st, so I need to squeeze them in, most likely for a special prelude before that date. They are just excellent and I already promised all of the special groups that they would be included more often than just once or twice a year for holidays. So, that's something nice to look forward to. The children's choir starts practicing this week, which is even more special because they have not been active in a long time. The previous director didn't want to work with them. So see, I'm not a mean old troll!
  • Fidem - I am putting you in my Rosary. God's blessings.
    Thanked by 1FidemInFidebus
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,586

    the pastor, who had little to say to me. He's great at making others do his dirty work because he's a coward and avoids conflict.

    You might want to avoid making comments like this - even if your name is slightly anonymous.

  • The woman's on a new gig, she runs into her first bit of trouble, and what do we hear? "Leave!"

    I'm sorry, but in this situation, that's advice that's premature. Let's look at it from a rule-utilitarian POV: if good people leave at the first sign of toxicity, after awhile they don't get hired, because they can't keep a job...because EVERYWHERE is toxic. So music programs are left to talentless hacks...which means eventually that there's no music. Better, let's look at it from a CHRISTIAN PoV. We take ourselves out of a situation where we could do good for people's souls, because we want to avoid suffering ourselves. That's not the way to heaven. There are times when "Leave" is the only way forward. This is not one of them. The pastor has an idea what's going on, and wants to work with it. The music seems to be happening. It's worth giving this time.

    Also: if a place drives out a bunch of DMs, they're the constant. If a DM has employment problems in a bunch of different places, THEY'RE the constant. You change the constant, not introduce a different variable.

  • @JeffreyQuick, that's what current church admins are allowing it to become: left to talentless hacks who are members of the Party.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,029
    Plus, if someone is clearly not particularly skilled or educated, you can get away with paying them less
  • Did anyone notice the Gospel reading last Sunday? Matt 18:15-20. Quite timely, really.
    I would be agreeing with the pastor how the choir will be reminded of the process presented here, and the particular disciplines that apply in the church you are serving in.

    While leaving is always an option, from what FF has said it's nowhere near time to leave yet: there are far too many good things going on. Anyone in any management role always needs to sort out a few issues like this when they start, no matter what field they are working in.
  • Update: Spoke with the pastor while I was in today. I asked that future complaints be made in person with the pastor, the staff relations chair, and myself present. He agrees to this.

    I was not driven out of my first church music job. I left because the church is about to close. I had the place weeping when I made the announcement. I am paid double in my current position, with yearly raises.
    The previous music ministers resigned because they claimed to be unhappy the entire five years they served there. The director banned one lady from singing in choir because she is disabled and needs to sit, routinely picked her "favorites", took zero suggestions from anyone, they've told me she was "intimidating". The disabled lady has rejoined the choir and I have no problem accommodating anyone who needs a chair or anything else. I have another disabled member who has mild cerebral palsy and no use of her right hand. It's hard for her to balance the folder on her arm and turn her pages, but she's managed like this for a very long time. We are working on getting her either a tablet or some kind of setup where she doesn't have to turn pages.

    @matthewj: since we are Facebook friends obviously you know my name. So is that a threat? Are you going to go tell on me like the anonymous choir member did? I was still extremely upset when I wrote that statement, and frustrated about how the situation was handled. However, the pastor seems ready to overcome his
    fear and face these issues. I feel confident that things will improve.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,586
    I'm the guy who usually speaks at conferences about musicians rights and offers employment advice to folks. I'm not threatening you...

    But if I know who you are, odds are other people know who you are too. And if your boss has read When Sheep Attack, there's the possibility he might come across this forum at some point. And he'd probably not like to read that about himself.
    Thanked by 3melofluent WGS Liam
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    So much drama.....sigh
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • @matthewj: fair enough
  • Good advice from Matthew -

    A loose tongue is a hangman's noose.
    (Did I read that somewhere, or did I make it up?)
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Comme le prevoit would have it-

    A tongue so loose is a hangman's noose...

    I could go on with caboose, vamoose, Toulouse.....discretion is the better part of velour.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,890
    Loose lips sink ships.
  • ...better part of velour.

    Um, yes! And valour, too!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,890
    discretion is the better part of velour.

    He's just remembering Disco.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    I knew Jackson would attempt to correct me! I can predicament the future!
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Man, I miss Disco! You could dance to that. And the songs let me exercise my falsetto (especially those BeeGees! Love the BeeGees!)
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Folks, the solution is easy,

    RECORD EVERY SINGLE REHEARSAL, I started doing that long ago and when a singer tried to start controlling the choir by going to the pastor, I was then approached by him. I told him that I had recorded that particular part of the rehearsal (which he then listened to) and he then asked that person to leave the choir. It's simple.
  • I'm just not sure a national forum like this is the place to work through highly detailed and current personal/personnel issues...

    Email a colleague - grab a beer with a colleague and commiserate - phone a friend - pray

    I'm not suggesting you haven't tried all of the above; just suggesting those are sufficient.

  • I've done all of those things, but find that this is a valuable place to get advice from people who have extensive experience. I am new to music ministry and have only worked in the field for five years. This is my first appointment as director. I value and respect the advice and opinions of the folks here on this forum, and they often have a lot more to offer than most of my colleagues. That and I really dont have time for socializing outside of my three jobs and three kids.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • >>Man, I miss Disco!
    me too. I remember setting my clock radio to a disco station so it would irritate me out of bed every morning.
    it worked - no more coming in late ! (just grouchy... lol)