Difficult choir member
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,104
    Ok, here's a question for all of ya smart ones:
    I am really trying to recruit some sopranos to our parish choir. We are pretty strong in other parts, but weak in the soprano section.
    I had a new member come recently. She had a good soprano voice, though it was clear it would be awhile before she would be at the level of the other sopranos - reading and intonation was not as good. This is ok - happens with new members, we help as much as we can and make them feel at home.
    The problem is, that she has been to about %50 of the rehearsals. Last Sunday, she did not show up for the practice before mass, but came in halfway through the mass, just before we did an anthem (Durfle: Tantum Ergo.) Because she was not warmed up and didn't practice, she was flat the whole time, and dragged most of the soprano section down with her.
    Normally, I would let it go, but in my old age, I am getting a little more fearless, so after mass, I told her that she had to
    come to rehearsal and if she didn't warm up with us, she would be flat and would drag down the rest of the section.
    She seemed pretty hurt by this, and I don't know if she will be back. I tried to tell her we really wanted her with us, but she really had to be with us. I think she was offended.
    So, this brings up questions:
    1. How do you 'incorporate' a singer who may have a good voice and potential, but is struggling behind the rest of the choir, and possibly affecting the section in a negative way. Ideas?
    2. How to hold a standard, but not offend people - possible?
    I would be appreciative of any of your ideas.
    God Bless you all.
    (Dr. Gregory Hamilton)
  • Lawrence
    Posts: 123
    It seems to me that the biggest problem with holding a standard is not that people are offended, but that many just don't consider it to be something worth doing. If you're going to try to hold any standard, I would talk to the pastor to make sure he'll back you up. Once you've secured his support, apply the standard consistently to all choir members, and that's that. I would be certain not to say to one choir member that they need to be present for this or that, but then let others slide.

    Of course, none of this means that we have to be little Toscaninis, saying insulting things, etc. Standards can be maintained with diplomacy.

    As far as incorporating what might be called "developing" singers, I would either work with the person separately, or if there are problems in rehearsals, I'd make general comments. Say, for instance, that intonation is the problem. Say, "sopranos," listen to each other and make sure you're in tune. Let the out of tune person discover her own mistake by listening. If she can't, it might be time to say, "thanks but no thanks"--that is, if your pastor will support you should such a "dismissal" become controversial.

    I hope I've been somewhat helpful.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    This is a vexing problem because many singers just assume they're fine, thank you very much. And it's not just sopranos, even though they often feel that they needn't practice because they're "just singing the melody." With new singers, it's good to get some separate work with them, if possible, and then move them in slowly. Explain that not everyone has to sing on every piece and that there will be some works, sections, whatever, that they grow into.

    Making sure that you have pastoral support is important if you're going to lay down rehearsal rules, especially if it's been a "come one, come all - make a joyful noise" situation in the past. It's only fair to the singers who do come to rehearsal to ask that those who didn't come, stay out of motets, anthems, etc. If there are sections of the liturgy whose settings are well-known to one and all, the singer who missed rehearsal can sing those. But, hey, no one gets to show up halfway through Mass and join the choir. That just doesn't work.

    Good luck!
  • This is the cause of so many choir directors falling victim to the bottle. Not kidding!
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    It's driven me to drink quite a few times.

    My boss's advice, and many others, is to make it THEIR decision. For example, for your problem approach the chorister and say "From your recent behavior, I'm not sure if you intend to make the commitment to the choir. Do you intend to stay in or is there a problem with some other commitment that you need me to help fix?" That is to say, approach it as making choir easy for them rather than approaching with law and condemnation. Then if she says "well I don't need to be at Mass on time" you can use it as a moment to teach why dedication to the choir is important. And yes, such arrangements as "if you miss warm-up, don't sing the anthem" are totally fair and worth making.
  • Lazarus
    Posts: 2
    Gosh...i think we ALL can relate to this scenario!

    My take is that her intonation issues and her tardiness are mutually exclusive concerns. In my choirs, if you miuss rehearsal, you don't sing for Mass...period. Love ya, sopranista but sorry, support us from the pews this week!!
    Also, I require all musicians to be in place 15 minutes prior to Mass...get stuck in traffic? Lemme hear you from the Narthex!!

    Seriously... I think if we can institute effective attendance policies in our groups then we suffer a lot less heartache. Odd situations come up... but we deal with these lovingly and mercifully AND consistently. People "get it" after a while.

    Now dealing with a singer who cannot hear their (ahem) "challenges"...THAT is a tough one! I had a difficult situation recently where a singer with serious deficiencies decided he was being "called" to cantor.

    The caller apparently had the wrong number!

    peace~

    Laz
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    The worst singers are also the ones who don't have the music in order, show up late for rehearsals, and bristle at any suggestion that they take up some other task. On three different occasions that I can think of, I had to finally just kick the person out of the choir. One hates for it to come to this--and you can try everything else out--but if it does, make sure that you explain the situation in detail to the pastor. You must have his backing in a case like this. The best analogy to use with him is a reader who can't read, an altar server who goofs off, etc.
  • Dr. Hamilton,
    "Global" or law and order remedies applied to such circumstances are quite effective in certain choral economies, such as academic choruses, community choruses of merit, professional choruses (obviously) and perhaps even select church choirs.
    I've adhered to the philosophy of addressing each individual situation and, thus, individual such as your new singer, with the iron hand well covered by the velvet glove. Basically I call it the social Darwinism approach; you can't keep up, nature will make that self-evident. How would this approach played out on that Sunday (and I've had many similar instances?)
    At the first discreet opportunity you make eye contact with the clueless latecomer who did not rehearse the one piece she is of most value to the choir (!), I would hold her attention with that eye contact, show the octavo clearly to her and make some clear gesture, again without words, that clearly indicates that she is to remain seated and not participate in the performance of that one piece. If she acknowledges that visibly, then she will have gotten the point that she has erred in judgment. If she chooses to violate that unspoken transaction and tacit agreement, and sing, then you have righteous grounds to start removing the velvet glove. If she leaves as recklessly as she entered, her choice.
    But the main point is, the choral "anthem" is the singular moment when the worship of God through this artful edification of the faithful is best served by the best efforts of the choir as one voice, not a lot of individuals singing at the same time in their own fashion. If she cannot grasp that simple concept, even if by osmosis, chances are her "calling" was to the stage, not the choir.
  • john m
    Posts: 134
    When the director, over years, builds up a high work ethic in the choir, so that the members arrive on time and work hard because they love what they do, they themselves can be of great assistance to the director in enforcing policies through peer pressure, which can be more effective and less painful than the director being the "heavy". It's one thing to have a director ticked at you and quite another to be surrounded by sopranos who are visibly ticked at you.
  • Chris
    Posts: 80
    I'm not sure I fall into the 'smart ones' category as per the start of this thread, but I'll take a stab at the questions.

    Intonation & general musicality are separate issues from tardiness and attendance. The two definitely should not be linked together, although in my choir, it's certainly tempting with some!

    Choir members, regardless of musical ability and talent, must be on time for rehearsal and Mass. Period. I don't make exceptions to this unless there is an extraordinary reason and I'm made aware of that reason by the choir member beforehand. If one is on time for Mass, one may participate in the choir. If not, see you at the next rehearsal. On time. (Kindly and gently expressed to the errant choir member, certainly, but expressed nevertheless.)

    Intonation may be cured (hopefully) by a number of ways. Reinforcing the need for good posture, proper vowel shapes and placement, how to hold up one's music properly, supporting one's sound with correct diaphragmatic breathing, listening to the rest of one's section and all the good things that many of us musician-types take for granted is essential.

    If that still doesn't clear up the problem, gently offer some one-on-one coaching. I had the occasion to do this with an Alto of mine who fell into the enthusiastic-but-regularly-off-key category. She didn't like being told she was flat, but didn't mind the term 'under pitch,' which was how I phrased it. She was open to spending a few weeks last summer with some solfege exercises, with the above mentioned singing techniques applied, and we met with good results. Not perfect, to be sure, but certainly good ones. :-)

    Don't forget about the wonderful benefits of both prayer and copious amounts of red wine after rehearsal.

    Best wishes.
    Thanked by 1moderntrad
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    Last night we had rehearsal and this is much on my mind.
    I need to just get over my bad self, but my prime complaint is how much extra time and energy some people take.
    Some of my choir members have been singing literally since before I was born, and they have a sizable repertoire that they've been doing quite a while.
    Some of them simply don't understand any need to rehearse music they "know."
    I have jollied them along about this, reminding them how unwelcoming it is to new members, how I may need practice playing, that I may have a slightly different interpretation from their last director, etc., but the fact is they don't actually KNOW what they "know."
    I must have spent 15 minutes on one rest, and the pitch of the entrance immediately after it for the bassi, in the Mozart "Ave Verum" last night.
    I'm tired...

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
    Thanked by 1moderntrad
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    G, let me guess! Was it the "Esto nobis"?
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,191
    Ours is one of the most difficult and misunderstood lots.

    We are expected to be social workers as much as music professionals, and in light of the continued "dumbing down" of the musical culture with American Idol, et al., we shall continue to be demonized for having standards, or worse, be hounded out of our jobs for daring to actually hold otherwise perfectly responsible adults to standards (of any kind).

    In the meantime, at every turn we have to massage egos, justify our work, and do everything we can to stave off burnout.

    Please pass the wine.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,230
    First off, I am not very smart at this kind of stuff. But you don't have to be smart as much as charitable and maybe a bit restrained.

    I once had a very close friend who was an archdiocesan priest. In fact, he had dinner with us every night for many years. He always used to tell me this in the midst of my struggles with the exact same issues--

    "Francis, the demons love to hang out in two places in particular: one, the rectory kitchen, and two, the choir loft."

    Therefore, I can only offer this which I only learned from years as a DM:
    1. Pray for patience and charity before holding a rehearsal.
    2. When you are in rehearsal and you have thought of some wonderful wisdom to impart, seriously consider imparting it at NEXT Thursday's rehearsal, not the one you are conducting now.
    3. Before next Thursday's rehearsal, ask God if you should still say what you think needs to be said.

    By the time next Thursday rolls around, what one thought wise in the previous rehearsal often times does not seem so now, and a completely different solution usually presents itself.

    PS. If you are ever tempted to grab a bottle, keep one with holy water close by and use it to bless yourself.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    David,

    You observe that in light of the continued "dumbing down" of the musical culture ... we shall continue to be demonized for having standards, and seek consolation in the bottle. I sympathise. Simon Cowell's from my side of the pond.

    Regards,

    Ian.

    ps the problem is, not only is too much booze bad for the voice, but increasingly I find that wine's being dumbed down, too!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    Ah, the joys of church music. I tell everyone that I went into church music for the money, the sex, the glamour, and to have my own groupies. ;-) Of course, I have never gotten most of the above. I get paid so I do at least get some money. I have, however, had the problem of choir members showing up on Sunday who rarely attend rehearsals. I started keeping the current music in my music bag, and passing it out only at rehearsals. Consequently, when those members show up on Sunday, they have no music. The other choir members understand they are not to share, which is not a problem anyway. The choir was really annoyed by those folks who only come on Sunday, and were willing to cooperate.
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    No, GregP, although that also took a bit longer then it should have...
    It was "in cru-- (in cru-oo-) ce pro..."
    So, by the time we arrive at "Esto nobis..." I think he (yeah, it only really only one bass,) was afraid of me, and paid attention a bit sooner.
    Because that's really what it is, a lack of attention....
    I am amazed at how often a correction produces the retort, "Oh... yeah."
    In other words, I WOULD HAVE KNOWN IT AND DONE IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME IF I HAD JUST PAID A MODICUM OF ATTENTION!!!!!!!!

    Oooh, excuse caps, must pour wine...

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World) (Save me a glass of shiraz...)
  • Hey CharlesW, nice to have another "man" (it's a Teutonic thing) on board. You pull for Memphis,Tennessee or Vandy in the Big Dance? My dad was from Fayetteville NC, so I'm "naturally" a Dukie, but secretly pulling for the Tarheels.
    Anyway, I'd take some measure of care with whom you're sharing your "raisin duhtruh" for doing music ministry. This is, ahem, the Roman Catholic Church, after all. We get the joke; the rest of the world? Not so much, seriously. One of ours of the most superior talent and intellect, and who took great pains to maintain an impeccable personal reputation in his parish and community, was nonetheless relieved of his duties for posting his honest, if barbed remarks on a blog forum.
    And the cliche about the demons in the choir gallery is, IMO, quite accurate in reality. Gotta watch yer back.
    G, I've got a Riedel goblet and a 1999 Balmoral Syrah for ya, if you ever venture to the heart of California. Just ask Arlene O-Z.
  • Greg,

    My predecessor established a 75% attendance rule at Christ the Redeemer, which I have gladly continued. Thankfully, most folks for whom meeting this rule is a problem have made that discernment on their own.

    People should (extenuating circumstances notwithstanding) be on time for Mass, whether they are engaged in liturgical ministry or not. If a choir member, especially in Greg’s parish where the choir is highly visible to the assembly, comes in late, that’s detrimental to the liturgy in ways beyond “mere” musical concerns. (Ouch, though – Duruflé “Tantum” with a flat soprano section!)
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    Felipe touches on the starting point for the issue. It is impossible to meet standards unless those standards are plainly stated ahead of time. People often have their own ideas. Your kid on the football team? He knows that being late for any practice during the week means he doesn't play on Saturday - no matter who he is. How does he know that? Because the coach has told him so, and the coach has unremittingly shown that he is serious. You see your star running back benched for one game and the memory sticks with you.

    What do you need to do?
    - Assume nothing. Common sense isn't common. Make expectations known - clearly and regularly.
    - Write out your policy on attendance and tardiness and distribute it to members.
    - Remind your choir that you are a ministry, not a club.
    - Tell people that whether they need prctice or not their absence affects others who can't learn to balance with a changing group
    - Start rehearsals on time. When the second hand hits the 12, you should be opening your prayer. Make no comments as people arrive late. Let them feel uncomfortable.
    - Accommodate late arrivals for services, but only on the rare occasion. If it becomes a habit, learn why.
    - Tell people you expect a call if there is a problem.
    - If somebody routinely violates your published rules, quietly ask how you can help them, and if needed offer to welcome them back when they sort out their priorities.
    - Find responsible assistants as section leads who can help out. (The captain ofa ship is not the disciplinarian - it's the executive officer!)

    Most importantly: Set the example. Be early and prepared, music in order, etc. There's nothing worse than standing around ten minutes after the starting time, and now twenty minutes before Mass, watching the choir director mark her book for the hymns you're singing today.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    Hi Charles in CenCa. I am a bit east of Memphis - as in Knoxville. Certainly, I was joking about my reasons for going into church music, but I have also said the same to the liturgy committee and no one takes it seriously. Most of the people in my choir have been together many, many years and are good friends by now. However, controlling the distribution of sheet music has worked beautifully in dealing with those who never attend rehearsals.
  • Lawrence
    Posts: 123
    I like the standards everyone is talking about, but...

    ...maybe I've had different experiences, but I would say, just try some of these at the typical parish and see what kind of response you get. It hasn't been good in my experience.

    One choir parent got upset with me b/c I insisted that the children's choir sing with proper posture. My first thought was, "Would they get upset with the baseball coach for insisting on hitting with proper form?" Not on your life, of course. So I guess the (American) football analogy doesn't really work, because there are double standards. Choir to many people is something you do for fun which should require little or no discipline. After all, there's no final score at the end of Mass to brag about.

    And if you have a pastor who'd rather just have people involved--period, even at the expense of standards, if necessary--you might be out of luck.

    Because of all this, I try to make as few rules as possible, since the more they prove to be untenable, the more impotent the director looks (and becomes) viz. personell management.
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    "So I guess the (American) football analogy doesn't really work, because there are double standards. Choir to many people is something you do for fun which should require little or no discipline. After all, there's no final score at the end of Mass to brag about."

    Well, THER'ES our problem!!??#?$?%?!@!!!!
    Starting right now, I'm keeping score.
    I'll tell the sections at the end of Mass, well, the sops won this one, you tenors were weak on defense and got your a**** kicked! Basses, that late-liturgy rally was impressive, but too little too late.
    And I'll get those big numbers to hold up for the sermon...
    5.5 5.4 5.5 4.8 (ooh, the East German judge!) 5.5 5.8
    Well, Father O looks like he might take home a (bronze? miraculous?) medal, but we'll have to wait for the Triduum to judge him on his long program.
    And maybe I'll get myself one of those giant foam rubber "we're number one" fingers for the stands, I mean, the loft.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Frankly, ever since beginning to attend the Orthodox Divine Liturgy I've cared less and less about how good my choir is. We're down to a core of 2 very dedicated people; one is near-tone deaf, the other is outstanding - so long as you don't ask her to sing above a B. The Orthodox church down the road has 8 or so women who can't carry a tune in a basket. I occasionally want to cover my ears to ignore how horrible they sound. And yet all the caterwauling can't cover up the beauty of their liturgy or the Kontakions they sing. I've recently been trying to impress upon my choir that it isn't how you sing but what you sing. We just did the Laetare Introit, and I told them "this is a great piece and I hope you enjoy it. But most of all, know that this is what the Church demands of us to sing. We're not here to entertain or show off, we're doing what needs to be done here. Even if everyone comes away hating it (which usually happens) we're doing our part."

    I'm not going to go all proper-mania on anyone, but I will point out that when you sing the proper chants, issues of pitch, interpretation, etc. become irrelevant because you are doing what the Mass requires. And when it comes to preparing for that, either you come ready to do what the Mass is or you aren't. There's no in between with the propers.
  • Lawrence
    Posts: 123
    G,

    LOL!!!

    Perhaps it would be better if the numbers for the homily indicated how long it went. (8,9, 10, 15.....25). And it can be like golf--the lowest score wins!!! :-)
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,104
    Dear all:
    Thank you all for your helpful comments! I never expected so many responses, I must have touched a (painful) nerve.
    GH
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    "I will point out that when you sing the proper chants, issues of pitch, interpretation, etc. become irrelevant because you are doing what the Mass requires."

    I've told this story again and again.... the best celebrant I know personally is utterly, not near, but utterly tone-deaf. He can't even reproduce the direction of an interval, much less the pitches.
    But when he chants the Eucharistic Prayer, as close to recto tono as he can manage, it is transcendent, and it is riveting and it is moving; and it is clear even to cynics that a stupendous event is taking place.

    By the way, since I went off on my choir from Tuesday's rehearsal, I feel it is incumbent on me to say that they were absolutely smashing last night.
    (I think I'll bring them donuts on Sunday....)
    (Which, by the way, is MAJOR , not for improving sound, but for improving morale, dedication, etc. which will ultimately improve sound -- it is remarkable the good will engendered by a $2.79 coffee cake or a big bag of cough drops....)

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • john m
    Posts: 134
    "it is remarkable the good will engendered by a $2.79 coffee cake or a big bag of cough drops....)"

    Indeed, G, I have always sworn by the policy that if you favour your choir in small, non-musical matters, you thereby enable yourself to make demands of them in larger matters. Make the singers your personal friends, and they are much more likely to become your musical disciples.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Oh running a choir is like managing a family, just as much work and just as complicated.
  • JDE
    Posts: 584
    Sure, except you don't have to take them home with you or pull their loose teeth.

    Well, most of the time, anyway.
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    "Oh running a choir is like managing a family, just as much work and just as complicated."

    Bachelor, huh? ;o)

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    I seem to remember that something like this thread has run before, and that it was noted that the problem is one not only for the DOM and the individual concerned, but also one for those who have to try to sing in tune when the person next to them is sharp, flat, or just singing the wrong notes. This can be painful, and can generate bad feeling.
  • I remember once attending a masterclass given by John Carol Case in which the baritone involved was out of tune. John's suggestion? Try standing a little closer to the piano. Very diplomatic I thought.
  • With my choir, I'm lavish in my praise. When the choir does really well, they generally know it right away by the expression on my face, and I'll tell them so after Mass. If things don't go well, they can generally tell as much from their own sense of things as from the expression on my face. (I do try to be careful of the expression on my face when things don't go as well.) When things don't go well, I characterize the problem as a technique to be mastered (intonation, breath control, vowel formation issues, etc.). As I said, in most cases they know what went wrong, and they're attitude is to take on the challenge and improve rather than beat themselves up over it. I try to balance our repertoire, and will repeat anthems from year to year that may not have gone so well the first time out. I find that the second visit to an anthem produces remarkable results.

    (On a side note, those who are familiar with some of my rants would enjoy hearing something positive for a change, and this is truly the most positive thing about my current job. The choir is small, but mighty. They work hard, are eager to please, love to learn new and different repertoire and rise to the challenge with enthusiasm. Even when they're individually or collectively tired, they keep their focus as best as they can, and I do what I can to "take it easy.")

    As I go back and re-read Dr. Hamilton's original question, I have to say that in my experience setting a high standard and keeping it will in the long run produce better results than falling prey to the "oh, let's just keep this fun and simple" mindset. Yes, folks in the choir want to have fun, but if it turns into an adult version of "Romper Room" nobody is going to take what you do, or indeed what they do, seriously. I'd like to think that people develop a better sense of accomplishment being involved in something that is high-quality and from being held to a standard. How much respect would one have for a sports team coach, even if it's a weekend hobby group, if the coach just sat back and let people make mistakes all the time without correcting it? Playing the game would be pretty much no fun at all. The fun would be overshadowed by the frustration of the other team mates for those players who didn't know what they were doing, and they would question whether the coach knew what he was doing.
  • How I tend to handle these issues:

    1. State the standards for attendance and attentiveness in direct, positive terms. I write a welcome-back letter before each 'season', which gives me a chance to communicate more carefully and more formally than is possible in rehearsals. I then follow up with references to this and similar statements.

    2. I express attendance as something that we owe to each other in terms of support and loyalty and to Our Lord as assistants at the liturgy.

    3. Having 14 very loyal and attentive singers is always better than having 25 of whom half are inconsistent.

    4. The myth that 'volunteers can't be fired' has to be killed (Todes Schmerzen) as a pernicious falsehood.

    5. Higher standards will attract those who care most and who will dedicate themselves most to the service of the liturgy. In the transition, some under-committed folks will feel alienated and leave. This is right and proper and should be met with graciousness on the part of the director. I applied this method to the choir I inherited last year and ended up losing nobody and gaining 6 new under-30 singers with lots of experience--in a non-wealthy suburban parish.

    6. The mediocre look out after their own! Mediocrity drives out excellence more thoroughly than does the awful!
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    What would you say to a schola who doesn't like the selection of music that the director choose?
    This is what he says,

    still not convinced that the "soaring" agnus dei (Mass IV) and sanctus (Mass VIII) are better than the "cloisters" versions (he is refering to Mass XI Sanctus). tried, but failed, to adapt.
  • David's and Dan's approaches are very similar to what I did in my past jobs. It is discouraging to lose almost half your choir after Christmas on the first year, but you notice that the ones who stay are the usually (not always) the better singers and the most dedicated. I did have a problem in keeping good sopranos, though. I thought maybe it had something to with their friendships with the previous directors. In any case, I have a similar issue with the schola this year. We started out with 8 guys. I was thrilled! Of course of those 8, only 3-4 could really sing and I eventually lost the other 4. So, this year I am working on identifying quality to singers to invite. I don't want the guys who are left to get discouraged.
  • Question for you all. I am a Music director for a Unity church. (Progressive in thought ) and wondered how you handle a controlling choir member? Someone who is habitually letting me know what she finds wrong with performances, etc.. For instance, just recently I created a Christmas cantata and she thought the narration was too wordy! Ugh! Another time she told me she felt like our pianist was playing too loud. This is on going and quite irritating! Any suggestions? I do plan on discussing this with the minister. Thanks in advance!
    Greg


  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,545
    "You're not the director" has been a useful reminder to some of my volunteer singers

    I do appreciate feedback though, and I make a point to thank people, in front of the whole group, when they have something constructive to say.
  • I had a very critical "advisor" once, eventually he just quit. Totally dropped out of the church-going scene altogether. Sometimes they get fed up with themselves? His emails were always epic tomes. After reading through his final message, all I could give him was "thanks for your participation". And I think it's best if you discuss things with the minister before 'she' does. I'm more defensive and wouldn't have put up with bad advise for as long as you have endured. I try to push back with my reasons. Sometimes people will back you into a corner and criticize you, too. Doesn't even matter what the issue is, like piano lid down vs. half-stick, or gregorian chant appropriate for catholic liturgy vs inappropriate. Doesn't matter what side you happen to take either.
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 985
    I have a similar situation with an acquaintance who's decided it's her role to offer me feedback about grammatical errors in what I write. My grammar isn't terrible, but it's not perfect either. But unsolicited feedback gets tiresome quickly.

    I've found it useful to go through this sequence:
    1. Thank you for your input.
    2. OK.
    3. No response at all.

    The speed with which you go through this progression depends on how important other aspects of the relationship are to you. If it's on social media and the person has no real relationship at all, then they might be trolling, and the appropriate response is #3.
  • JesJes
    Posts: 510
    My rule is inclusive of all in the choir. By the sounds of things you have a larger choir and so can do this.
    If you are not at rehearsal for that piece. You do not sing it during mass.
    You hand out the music at the rehearsal as each piece is rehearsed and if people missed the piece they don't receive a copy after it has been rehearsed they just miss out.
    The same rule applies even to the best singers that could sight sing the whole thing.
    Very quickly you get everybody there or you get drop outs who can't commit. It sounds like she's one of the many people who don't understand that singing is an art to be refined and that rehearsals are commitments.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,841
    I'm still astonished that a choir would turn up at the beginning of Mass without a warmup, though since we recently went from 2 to 3 Sunday Masses it's just a little less incredible to me. Rather than go in cold we've kept to our 1 hour slot and juggled venues. 5" crossing the street x 52 weeks is some serious rehearsal time though!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,005
    I have given up on the warmups. I have choir members in their eighties, so getting them up three flights of stairs to the loft - no elevator - gets them too winded to sing. Rehearse in the loft? Already do that with the psalm and some responses, but only have 10-12 minutes before mass so can't do much. A segment of my choir misses that since they don't arrive until after the Gloria. I can't say who will rid me of these troublesome people because I have no one to replace them with. Retirement is looking better and better. LOL.
  • The choir at my church rehearses about 1 hour before Mass. This is the only rehearsal the choir gets.
    Thanked by 1Viola
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 313
    I have the same problem. I think this deserves a new thread.
  • JesJes
    Posts: 510
    A how long do you rehearse thread?
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • >> still not convinced that the "soaring" agnus dei (Mass IV) and sanctus (Mass VIII) are better than the "cloisters" versions (he is referring to Mass XI Sanctus).

    weird, to me. the Kyriales are what they are.
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 313
    A thread about how to get reluctant choirs to commit to a weekly rehearsal night rather than just 45 minutes before Sunday Mass.
    Actually I have just had a meeting with the parish priest who says choose a night and tell them if they don't come to the practice they can't sing on Sunday. i'm worried that there might be no one left. Has anyone else tried this? Actually maybe this is better as a new thread because it's off-topic. I'll start it.
  • Viola,

    You have your parish priest's support to build a choir by establishing ground rules.
    Thanked by 1Viola