When Choir Members have a Bad Attitude

Sometimes choir is not a friendly place.

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I write posts like this because when I have a bad experience, I often look for solace from strangers experiencing similar things. Sometimes, there is no solace to be had, so if you are looking for some comfort, I hope this post provides it.

I hate to gripe and moan again. I am usually cheerful and I take great pleasure in singing with my choir. Nevertheless, sometimes group activities can have the downside that you have to deal with a lot of different personalities.

We started back for the autumn term yestderday, and I was so excited and happy to start. Nevertheless, I had the misfortune to sit next to a person of some importance, an accomplished muscian and an official associated with the organisation of various musical performances, not just related to the choir. This person is incredibly unfriendly and obviously very harrassed and stressed by the demands of their job.

I understand this, and I have compassion for people who have stress in their work. Nevertheless, this person was becoming very angry when people made mistakes and even used the F-word three times in relation to people making mistakes!

And this as we were singing a religious work!!!

Moreover, it was the first rehearsal and people had only just received their scores. I think it is unwarranted to react so badly to people making mistakes at this point. It might have been understandable if we had been in our penultimate rehearsal and people had clearly not been studying their scores. However, when people are struggling through the initial sight-reading phase, surely there is no need to become so contemptuous of error.

Even in choirs like mine, where musical knowledge is a pre-requisite, there are bound to be varying levels of ability. Just because one is a very accomplished musician and always spot-on the beat or note on first reading, that should not cause one to become frustrated with others who are not so accomplished as oneself.

Apart from that, this person was singing through parts that were not their own in a very off-putting manner. I felt that because of this and the fact that they were so vocal in relation to the mistakes of others, this person wished to show that they were better than the crowd. I have sometimes felt that this kind of showing-off and wishing to seem superior to others can be an issue in choirs.

For the record, the person in question did make a couple of mistakes and they were fortunate that no one else was so rude as they had been to others in response to them.

Nobody is perfect, and it is unbecoming to act as if one is.

It is also important to focus on the beauty of the music and the meaning of the work, not whether others are as good at sight-reading as you are.

Have you experienced this kind of behaviour at your choir or anything similar? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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