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FOUR LESSONS OF CHORUS LEADERSHIP

As featured in The Harmonizer.

The Four Lessons

Sadly, the Society lost a great leader when Dr. Paul Tamblyn passed away seven years ago. I will be forever grateful for the chance to be taught and mentored by this great man.

Paul taught me four incredibly important lessons that impacted my role as a director and Vocal FX as a chorus. How you treat and communicate with others in rehearsal has a huge impact on the ability of your members to feel valued and secure enough to share themselves with an audience on stage.

1. In any difficult situation, there is something good to be found that we should recognize and for which we can be thankful.

Paul showed me that in our choruses, we are quick to see and hear what we don’t want. Paul taught me to take a second look in these situations and find who or what I wanted to see. It amazed me how by doing this most of the time, what I didn’t want to see happening disappeared. Others chose to follow the example of those who were receiving the positive feedback.

2. Every task we ask someone to do for us, however small, deserves thanks.

As musical leaders, we can get caught up in delivering the content. I was amazed to see how many times I gave instructions without thanking chorus members for doing what I had asked. When I worked towards doing this more, the energy of those in front of me was lighter and more positive, and the results I was after were achieved more quickly. The other upside was I noticed members began thanking me more, and this gave me more energy. What they see is certainly what you get back.


3. Believing in people and communicating that to them helps them reach their potential faster.

Paul believed in me. I knew he saw that I had an ability to be genuine and connect with others, but I hadn’t really seen this as a gift before. It gave me the confidence to put myself forward more and develop as a leader—not only in front of a chorus, but also with our staff at my high school. It has also made me realize the power of my belief in the leaders we are developing in Vocal FX.

4. True leadership is when you can step away from the spotlight and see others shine.

It has taken a lot of time and patience over the years, but I am seeing the fruits of empowering others in Vocal FX. My goal as a co-director and leader is to develop a team where we don’t need to rely heavily on one person. It is my greatest thrill to see how the young men we have in Vocal FX have developed and grown in confidence and knowledge over the years. They have become world-class musical leaders and I’ve never enjoyed my role more than now when I get to step back a little more and share the load.

Charlotte Murray Co-director Vocal FX, Wellington, N.Z. cmurray.tawa@gmail.com