As a musician, I’ve done freelance work — a gig here, a gig there — for half my life already. Ever since I was old enough to be trusted with the work, I’ve been a “working musician” to some extent. However, the past year brought about a major change. I left my full-time “day job,” which was actually a music job in a church; it involved a lot of work in the evenings. Now, I hold a much smaller church music position, reserving most of my time (especially those coveted evenings) for freelance work and running my business. For the first time in my life, self-employment produces a significant portion of my income (about a third of it). I will probably never view my working life the same as I did before.
Music Quality in the Church Choir: Tips for Directors
Don’t assume that your church choir can’t do quality music just because they learn slowly.
We’ve all been here before. Somewhere in your music files (likely tucked under “Q” for “Quatre Motets”) is the Duruflé Ubi Caritas, a much beloved setting of a timeless text. Trouble is, you only have enough tenors and basses to place one on each part, and that’s if they’re all present! So much for programming something great, right? If only your church choir could learn music more quickly.
Because there are so many faults underlying this assumption, I’m going to tackle them one at a time.
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Negativity will kill you slowly. Here’s how to avoid it.
Limit the impact of negativity on your work and your life.
I would be the first to admit to you that I’ve not always carried a positive mindset to work. It is so easy to think about all of the limitations, all of the frustrations holding us back from achieving what we want to achieve. It is also very easy to compare ourselves to others and to define our worth based on that comparison. The purpose of this article is to steer you away from these dangers, because they almost always find a way back into our lives when the going is tough. Unfortunately, negativity tends to proliferate as soon as you give it room to do so.
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Accompaniment Technique: Why It Matters
A Tale of a Choir Rehearsal
I had the opportunity (now somewhat of a rarity in my life) to show up at a choral rehearsal and simply observe rather than act as a direct participant. The work in question was categorically “standard” repertoire—the sort of piece you find in numerous dog-eared editions on countless American bookshelves. It just so happened that the pianist that day was playing from a very heavy-handed edition from the early twentieth century; tremolos, parallel sixths and thirds, octaves, sweeping slurs, and dramatic dynamic shifts were the operators in this busy score. This is a difficult (but fairly typical) situation that calls for special accompaniment techniques.
After a few minutes, it became clear to me that the accompanist, while solid in technical facility, was not entirely fluent with some of the passagework. Tempos began to waver; important details vanished beneath a mess of notes. It was not long before the conductor gave the tempo for a particularly fast and exciting movement…or perhaps not so fast and exciting. What was going on here? Why was thing dragging so much? Who was really in charge of the tempo?