Wednesday, 15 September 2010
This year I have started co-leading Singing it Back, a choir I met organising the Ham House singing event and founded by Mary Bourne. Mary approached me during the Summer and asked if I'd be interested in co-leading the choir with her in order to share material, and learn material more rapidly and with more help. This was a real joy to be asked and I started getting very excited right away about the work I could do as well as the arrangements I could write and the new people I would meet (a very important point for any project I get involved in)
Last night was our first joint session, made even more scary by the realisation that Mary hadn't told the choir I would be joining them. More than anything I was worried that they would resist change, seeing it as a negative other than a positive. Once one has become accustomed to a certain style it can be difficult to shift. Mary is a strong and capable leader and I didn't want to ruin their sound by my being there.
If something isn't broke we don't need to fix it..........but if we can see a better more productive and successful time ahead surely it's worth tinkering with??
As we go into our first year at St Mary's with the full three years of our new degree programme I am so excited about the prospect of new things and embracing all that is new in the course, the staff and the institution. I understand how difficult those original decisions must have been to make those changes, and really hope that this year we begin to see the fruits of that labour, proving that those choices for change, no matter how difficult, were worth it - they have been long coming and much deserved.
Last night, as I watched the choir go from initial intrigue, into small slightly worried glances and through to acceptance and generosity in such a short space of time I couldn't help being very humbled by their response. Not only had they given themselves to the singing sessions, some having never sang before and others feeling very vulnerable in this musical world, but also accepted and welcomed change quickly, happily and appreciating Mary's offer to them and trusting in her and I. I too hope that we will one day see the benefits of our partnership and Mary's choice to invite a new person and move in a new direction.
I couldn't help thinking our students at St Mary's could learn many valuable lessons from these men and women as we move into the final phase of this first step - our new three year degree programme. I hope that our students will show the same acceptance and generosity of spirit that Singing it Back did last night - grabbing each opportunity that comes their way in the exciting times ahead.
(Some of the choir arrangements I've been working on this Summer are on my website - www.patsyburn.co.uk on the Performance and Coaching page. Have a listen if you like)