I continue to be amazed at the relevance of the story of the little red hen to my life.
Do you remember it? The hen asks who will help her plant and harvest the wheat or do the work to prepare the cake from the wheat. Each time she asks the dog,the goose, the cat and the pig for help. She says, “Who will help me harvest the flour?” or “Who will help me bake the bread?” Then the other four animals reply one a time: “Not I.”
The only time they are interested in participating is when it comes time to eat the bread.
Of course, the little red hen will not allow them to have a slice.
My philosophy as a musician is that your performances are only as good as your practice. This is especially true of groups like volunteer choirs.
I haven’t had the courage to read or bring up “The LIttle Red Hen” to the many choirs I have conducted over the year but I have to admit that the story does come to mind.
I understand that at this time people in American society are running around with their heads cut off trying to do many many activities. In many people’s minds, being part of something means occasionally participating, whether this is their book club, their church or voting. They routinely skip meetings and come late and leave early due to their many other commitments.
But if you combine this prevalent notion of vague membership in communities with the idea that most community based organizations I have had contact with exhibit a weird predilection for the mediocre, sometimes it seems a bit futile to pursue any notion of quality.
Maybe I have difficulty with this because I am a musician who needs practice. I have known musicians who seem to do a pretty creditable job with little prep. Usually they are professionals and not exactly people you want to spend a lot of time with anyway. But on the other hand, many performances (especially by volunteer groups like church choirs) I have heard were painful for listeners.
Okay maybe I’m just a bit grumpy because because I’m ill (slightly sore throat) and I received a discouraging email from another musician trying to weasel out of rehearsals. Yeah that’s probably it.
Have a nice day.