If I ever get around to writing a business plan, it would simply comprise two words. “No Faffing”.  This is the simple premise upon which all my business ventures over the past 20 or so years have been based.  It’s fairly self explanatory and perhaps goes some way towards explaining why I am often frustrated when dealing with other organisations.

So far in the last few days I have dealt with one supplier who has changed a delivery date no fewer than 3 times.  Another supplier failed to turn up at an agreed time, so then agreed to come at another time later that day and still managed to arrive late.  Mind you, the latter was actually in relation to some work I was having done at home. To be fair the supplier who did the work (which incidentally was very good), got the deal in the first place because, whilst I asked for 3 quotes, he was the only person who actually turned up and gave me a price!

I do get extremely frustrated when people, particularly business people, cannot keep a simple promise.  I undertake recordings all over the country with 4 Part Music Location Recordings and, in order to record for a full day, I always aim to arrive at 7.30am.  This fact is communicated with the client when we agree the work and, regardless of how far away it is, I have never yet been late. Do I want a medal for this? No absolutely not. It’s no big deal – one of the primary reasons for arriving at 7.30am is to allow time to set up the recording gear. But, in the majority of cases it means I can leave at silly o’clock in the morning and therefore never have to worry about being held up in traffic.

Whilst I also don’t like to hang around or be kept waiting at any point, my plan of ‘no faffing’ doesn’t necessarily mean everything has to be done quickly. I am a great believer in doing things properly, and often thought of as a bit of a perfectionist.  So I don’t mind taking time to do something right but even then, it’s simply a question of just ‘getting on with it’.

I try to apply the ‘no faffing rule’ to most aspects of life.  And my choirs are definitely one such example.  I’ve been known to teach entire songs to choirs who can’t read music, in approximately half an hour.  Now, to be fair I wouldn’t say the piece was then anywhere near performance standards after such a short period.  But I do think it’s always a good idea to try and get through a new song relatively quickly in order to give the choir a good idea of what they are being expected to learn over the next few weeks.  Having done that, we will often then spend much longer looking at the detail of the song until it is ready for a public performance.

I’m sure there will be plenty of people who think this is a ridiculous idea and that you should learn the song gradually part by part.  I’d better not tell this group of people that I also think choir warm ups are essentially a waste of time.   I agree that in certain situations a vocal ‘warm up’ can be useful but some of the ridiculous things I have witnessed going on at the beginning of rehearsals have almost no value, and certainly won’t help anyone sing any better! 

Talking during choir rehearsals is a tricky issue for me.  Most of my choirs are female groups so the chances of stopping them talking are always going to be limited.  I sometimes resort to blowing a whistle but this often doesn’t make much difference.  Whilst this is slightly contrary to my policy of no faffing, I am conscious that there is a balance to be struck between the choir as a social gathering and the choir as a serious musical ensemble. 

Last week I caused some controversy with my discussion on whether or not choirs should be auditioned.  I dread to think how many complaints will follow now I’m claiming that choir warm ups are essentially a waste of time.  I would be interested to hear your viewpoints on this, so feel free to express your opinions below! 


Jules Addison is Musical Director for The BlueBellesThe Pewsey BellesCirencester Male Voice Choir, The GWH Trust Choir and Transeamus Chamber Choir

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