Blog posts, musings, and thoughts on life in general

My first ever blog post was about confidence - and although I've only actually written about two other things since then, the confidence issue has already risen it's head again and is begging me to write about it!

To be honest, that's not too surprising - I firmly believe that confidence is the single biggest barrier to happy, effective, and healthy singing.

This was brought home to me (again) last night; I was covering for another local choir leader, taking her rehearsal as she couldn't be there. The group was new to me, which is always an interesting challenge as you never quite know what you're going to be facing! What I found was a lovely group of singers, but who were so lacking in confidence in their own voices that I was singing louder than all of them put together, even recovering from laryngitis.

I find the actual process of creating and composing new music a very strange thing. Given the starting material I can easily create new arrangements out of an existing tune at any time of day or night, but actually having to come up with something new (that I don't hate) has historically been a much more frustrating experience. Traditionally, inspiration will lurk somewhere out of sight until about 11pm at night, when it will leap out and demand that a song be written *right now* or be lost forever. Once I was in the shower when a new tune floated through the window and I had to cut short my hair washing so I could go and write it down.

Now, staying up writing songs in to the early hours is perfectly acceptable for most musicians; in fact it's actively encouraged, and bags under the eyes are something of a badge of honour in some circles. However when you are required to function as a human being before midday (every day!!) and in my case when that also involves dragging yourself out of bed to take a small person to school it's not quite so convenient.

It's unbelievably frustrating, because everyone knows that you have to take the inspiration where it comes and if you try and force it then it's just not going to happen.

Or is it?

In my daughter's school at the moment they are having a 'Reading Challenge'. The rules of this challenge are: read to an adult, get the adult to sign your Reading Record, and when you have a signed record you are allowed to put a tick on the chart in the classroom. If you get a certain number of ticks in a week you get some extra playtime on Friday.

My daughter reads a *lot*, so on the surface of it this challenge shouldn't present a problem; as a minimum she usually reads to herself for at least half an hour every day before she goes to bed.

However, I found out that my sweet little girl has been denying herself ticks on the chart (and therefore her extra playtime), because her understanding of the rules is that you only tick if you have a signed diary; it has taken any amount of persuasion from me (and two conversations with the class teacher) to convince her otherwise. As a grown up, obviously I can understand that there is some flexibility inherent within the rules of the challenge; however my daughter strongly identifies with 'being a good girl' and takes pride with doing as she's been asked.

My new choir did their first performance yesterday - they did brilliantly, and I've been flooded with excited emails saying how much fun they had.

One comment in particular jumped out at me, from a lady who said:

"Having been told when I was at school that I couldn’t join the choir because I was rubbish, it has taken me over 50 years to pluck up the courage to try again!"

I'm full of admiration for this brave lady; her comment reminded me why it's so important to have a nurturing and supportive environment when you are singing - regardless of the age group! I have long believed that the single biggest barrier to effective singing is confidence, and the more I work with people of all ages (but particularly adult community choirs), the more I believe this is true!

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