You know when you ask someone to do something (or to stop doing something) several times and they give you a real positive affirming look like they really understand, but then they don’t do anything about it… Today’s rehearsal was all about the things that I’ve asked students to do, or not to do, over the last few weeks that they have not dealt with.
So we dealt with those things, and in the process some of the new kids, who have never been on the receiving end, or at least in close proximity of a serious Dave lecture had an opportunity to get close enough to get a sunburn. Which certainly set the tone for today’s workout.
But it was totally necessary.
As many of these promising performers were still not giving me close to their best, losing their focus, ignoring my repeated instructions. Or just simply starting to become lazy and satisfied, thinking that because rehearsals have been pretty well so far, they had this show in the bag. Today was a wake up call, and I did my best with all the powers I could summon to make it clear that we are no where near our potential yet… and that we need to keep that fire to improve and perfect all aspects of this show burning hot.
There is always the clear and present danger of becoming satisfied too early in any process. Satisfaction is the enemy of progress and change, usually leading to missing the high water mark that we seek to hit just over the horizon. Once satisfied we feel content, like we’ve just eaten a Vinnie’s Cheesesteak and don’t want to get off the couch for the rest of the night. We are then unwilling to venture the few steps further that are required to reach that target goal, leaving us short of our potential.
Some of the problem is found in the ego, and the ego in young musicians is a constant issue. It’s a difficult razor that music instructors walk. We need to strongly encourage our students, so that they begin to feel confident, BUT not so much as to fill their heads with an unhealthy overconfidence. Not so much that they become little monsters. (Just being in SPG1 starts to make some kids feel like they poop roses) These delusions of grandeur often build so quickly and I find them, suddenly, (like today) denying that they are singing the wrong harmony as if to say “how could it be me?’. And then worse yet giving one of the top tier vocalists big attitude when they are trying to help them correct their errant group harmonies.
So it was a day like that. The rehearsal featured two run through’s of what is a 2 hour and 10 minute performance right now. At the end of the second run things had settled. The performances had mostly improved, and the vibe in the room had mellowed into a seemingly uncomfortable detente.
It was a day of reckoning that was needed to make next weeks work more fun and positive going into show week. As members of this group, we are seeking perfection in performance. A difficult goal in an uncompromising and unwieldy art form, filled with a myriad number of variables, some of which are in, some of which are out of the control of the performer… (like Gavin’s bronchitis, Andrews hip problem, and Stevie’s stomach issues today) All need to be prepared for and dealt with.
We ended with a patented lecture concerning taking personal responsibility for owning our own problems, instead of making excuses or blaming outside forces. If your problem is outside of your control then you have no power to change what your doing or how you react to certain stimuli. Leaving you just blowing around at the mercy of the universe like a feather in the wind. But if you take responsibility for your issues and the way you react to them, then the power rests with you. I asked them to do some heavy lifting in the next week, to expect more from themselves and to perfect their parts, mindset, and understanding of the arrangement, and to take steps to fulfill those expectations.
Who knows if it took, All we can do is plant the seeds. Next week the proverbial noodles will hit the wall, and we’ll see if they stick.