Joy in the Journey
Concerts, festival celebrations, and other culminating events can seem to be the point of our work. But they’re only part of it. The process itself is the entire product. Enjoy that process as you use it to reach your goals. Find the joy in the journey.
Here are six things to consider to help you consider your process as your product. They work for me as I compose music, discipline myself in a new skill or as I lead others in a major project. Although my particular field is music, I believe that they apply to any discipline. I am indebted to my teacher Dr. Mark Carlson, for bringing them to my attention.
1. Have Clear Beginnings and Endings: Without a final finish line, the process is meaningless. Set clear, challenging goals that you and everyone else will know when they have been obtained. For example, if you want to grow your choir’s ability to communicate, why not challenge them to memorize Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus this year for the grand finale of your Christmas concert? You could then use all of that work to perform it flash mob style somewhere fun!
2. Watch for and Celebrate Forward Motion: Congratulate yourself and your group when a small part of your goal has been obtained. “Hey friends, we’ve now got the first 16 bars of the Hallelujah Chorus memorized; that’s 16 more than we had when we started. Next week, let’s aim to have 32 bars memorized.” Keep your eyes on a reliable measurement of progress to ensure that the process is more than just meandering.
3. Keep it Interesting: There are a myriad of ways to do this. Find someone in your choir who has struggled with memorization in the past but has worked hard and is conquering the Handel. Have them share how they are doing with the entire group.
4. Use Building Blocks that Evolve Over Time. Stories of past victories, songs sung and places performed are the building the blocks that help form the interwoven fabric of a choir. Every healthy group has these kinds of legends that build community. “I remember the time when the bus broke down and we sang for the people inside the Burger King in which we were stuck for three hours.” “I remember when we had an electrical blackout and we were singing We Have Seen the Light and the lights miraculously came back on in the middle of that particular song.” These kinds of stories never seem to get old in the retelling, and they serve as great reminders of common cause.
5. Aim for a Climax: In athletic training, in music, in the business world, there’s always a sense of the “peak” to any endeavor. Most often, this happens just before the culminating event, but not always.
6. Plan Surprises: In a choral group, this could be as simple as unexpected food following the rehearsal or a Valentine rose to every singer when February 14 is a rehearsal night. It can be as elaborate as having someone dress up as one of the composers (like Handel, for instance) and attend the rehearsal in character.
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