For the last few weeks I have been getting up before the crack of dawn and travelling the length and breadth of the country to shove microphones in front of school children.  For the next few weeks I will mostly be out after dark, standing in front of choirs & waving around frantically, in the hope they might sing something festive.  And by the time we get to January, I will be pacing up and down moaning that I don’t have anything to do!

On the one day between these two events, we found ourselves faced with ‘Black Friday’.  Being neither American nor a Shopaholic, this whole event rather passed me by.  Apparently the idea is that retaillers con us into believing that 2 pence off the normal price of an item, is the bargain of the year.  As such we should all be stupid enough to go out and spend  our money on items we don’t actually want, just because they are fractionally cheaper.

My choirs will all, no doubt, be greatly disappointed to learn that I am not giving anyone 1% off their choir subs this week.  Mostly this is because I don’t run any choir rehearsals on a  Friday!  But on the plus side, this week sees the first of many choir Christmas dinners which are coming up in December.   For me the advantage of running several choirs is that I get to go out to dinner with all of them.  Well, all bar my Male Voice Choir, as for some reason they don’t really do the whole ‘going out for dinner’ thing!   Their idea of a choir social is a pint of beer and a bowl of chips!  I’ve already mentioned in a previous post how Choir Christmas dinners tend to be the best attended events of the year.  Sometimes, people turn up who haven’t been seen since the previous year!

In amongst all of the shopping frenzy and wild christmas parties, a lot of people are just quietly getting on with their daily lives.  Going to work, taking the kids to school, walking the dog and doing the washing up.   These are probably the sort of people who got all excited by Black Friday, despite not really knowing what it was!  If in doubt, jump on a bandwagon and follow blindly.

Which brings me in a round about way to my point this week.   Being in a choir is all about following like sheep.  Occasionally there are solo moments where some flexibility might come into play – some soloists like to have their moment of glory! However, the best choirs are those which sing together as one.   How do they achieve this?  It’s simple really, they just keep an eye on the conductor.  I think it was Gareth Malone who once said, the only purpose of a choirmaster is to beat time!   In a sense he is right, although I suspect he was being fairly flippant at the time. Nevertheless, keeping time is a fairly key function for a choir director.

In January, I will be taking on a new choir called ‘Bluenotes’. When I met them to discuss the role a few weeks ago, it was made very clear to me they wanted someone to Direct them and take charge.  This aspect wasn’t fully defined, but I certainly wasn’t going to argue with a room full of women!  Importantly it suggests that as a choir they have identified the need to work together.  Ultimately, it’s not really about who is ‘in charge’, it is about singing together as a group.   And any choir which can do that well, deserves to go out for dinner!


Jules Addison is Musical Director for The BlueBellesThe Pewsey BellesCirencester Male Voice Choir & Great Western Harmony.


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