Two of the classic (although, thankfully not entirely pervasive) characteristics of a director of a choir of very young voices are these: mouthing the words, and conducting the rhythm, not the pattern. I completely understand why. Yet I am always sad when I see a director of any ensemble of adults practicing the same habits.
Not to put to big a focus on this, but when it happens, these habits set up a co-dependency relationship between director and singers. And I’ve always taken great delight in the fact that such a director never seems to be able to teach a choir how to sing polyphonic music (think about it…).
A much better model, in my opinion, is for the director to be a coach: teaching people to get better with a goal of musical independence. Why? Because until and unless the musicians actually understand the musical (and especially the textual) why (not just the when), the results tend to be monochromatic (or polychromatic, but that’s a function of the director’s ears, not hands…).
Hugh Ballou addresses the coaching paradigm in leadership in…
Managing is making sure people do what they know how to do. Training is teaching people to do what they don’t know how to do. Mentoring is showing people how the people who are really skilled do it. Counseling is helping people come to terms with past issues from which they are healing. Coaching is none of these. Coaching creates awareness so you see why you get the results you do and helps you change your thinking so you get the results you want.
The difference between coaching and mentoring is significant. Coaching is…
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P.S. Take your vocal artistry to the next step by getting Tim Carson’s Vocal Artistry DVD/CD training package at the Creator store.
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