Lessons from Singing in the Choir

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Even though my father was a Pastor, I never sang in the choir when I was young. Choir practice always seemed to conflict with basketball practice or work. So I had to wait until I was an adult to learn the lessons that choir singing has to teach.

The fact is that pretty much anyone can sing in a church choir, regardless of talent. It’s a lot like work that way. Choir directors all over the world integrate the untalented, but enthusiastic every day.

That was a good thing for me. Despite having a distinctive bass speaking voice, I cannot sing well. It isn’t that I haven’t tried. I took voice lessons for years.

Then, one day, after we had finished our lesson and were having a beer, my voice coach started laughing. When I asked him what he was laughing at he said, wiping tears from his eyes, “You know you are very, very, very bad.” I started laughing, too, because it was true.

Even so, I’ve been able to participate in several choirs and learned several lessons. Here are a few of them.

Almost anyone can get to OK in almost anything. I learned to sight-read well enough and sing well enough. At work, almost everyone can learn to do enough to do the required tasks well enough if they work at it and get some help.

A few strong singers can carry a bunch of the rest of us. When my father was Pastor at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in New York’s Manhattan, the church hired four professional singers to “anchor” the choir. Those few singers made the whole choir much better. Use your stars wisely.

In a church choir, no one is a star all the time. They get to amaze us all with solos, but most of the time their voices melt back into the choir. The funny thing is that those times when the stars blend in are often the times when they have the biggest impact.

We love achievable challenges. The spark that started me on the way to this piece was hearing the Vivaldi Gloria being performed on some TV show. It triggered the memory of learning to sing that piece. Getting the notes right. Getting the timing right. Then getting to perform it. The fruits of meeting a challenge are progress and achievement.

Boss’s Bottom Line

Be like a good choir director. Make beautiful music with the team and help the team members get better.

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