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Respecting Singers' Time (and Other Etiquette)

I joined my first performing ensemble at age 5, and from that point to the present, there's one thing that I hate with the burning intensity of a thousand desert suns: conductors who don't respect musicians' time. I've attended literally hundreds of rehearsals that were *supposed* to end at a stated time, only to run up to an hour late. These weren't emergency situations, either; we can all understand running a bit long if the performance is tomorrow and something just isn't coming together.

This is unbelievably disrespectful of others' time, and I implore parish choir directors not to fall into this habit. I set a timer on my phone, and prop it up on my analogion so it's right in my line of sight — and, since we stand in a semi-circle facing east, the other singers can also see it. They know that when that timer runs down, I'll end the rehearsal, even if there is more that we could work on. It's about respect, plain and simple, and I come right out and tell the choir that. They commit to attending rehearsal, and I commit to ending it at the stated time. It's simple, but critical to getting folks on board with regular rehearsals.

Something else I've found to be extremely important is thanking the choir at the end of every service, and when we finish rehearsal. I think it's meet and right (heh) to acknowledge their efforts. They don't have to be there, after all. Consistently thanking the singers helps create a culture of genuine, mutual gratitude and respect. When people feel appreciated, they'll go miles with you. I personally also find that saying "thank you" is a useful reminder for me, particularly if I'm tempted to frustration because we've had a tough vocal day. I suppose sometimes I need my mouth to lead my mind. :)

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