A quick Google search suggests the amount of sleep required by most adults is somewhere between 6 and 8 hours in every 24. Most of the time I probably achieve somewhere close to this, although no matter how much sleep I have, I am not a ‘morning person’.
Running choirs fits in very well with this, as most choir rehearsals will be in the evening when I am (usually) most awake! However, as well as Directing choirs I also record choirs on a fairly regular basis, usually at least once or twice a week. Most of my customers probably think this is quite an easy job. Particularly if it is a school recording, we usually start at around 9.00am and finish by 3.30pm. The only downside, is that most of the schools in the UK are somewhere other than Bath. In fact it seems that the majority of schools I work with are usually a 2-3 hour drive from home.
To setup for most recordings takes somewhere between 1 and 2 hours depending on the complexity of the job and how near to the venue I can park the van. Therefore a start time of 9.00am is in fact now 7am. Being late is of course never an option, so I always aim to arrive no later than 6.30am for any recording. Earlier this week I was recording in Manchester which meant leaving home at 3.45am and tomorrow I am recording in Derbyshire which means leaving home at 4.15am. According to the advice on sleep therefore I need to be in bed by around 8pm the night before. This would be a great idea, bar the fact 3 nights a week I run choir rehearsals which invariably don’t finish before 9.30pm, after which I still have to drive home and load the van for the following day’s recording!
Now, I certainly don’t want any of you thinking this is some sort of sob story or sympathy request from the poor overworked Choirmaster. In fact absolutely the opposite. When I started 4 Part Music, my recording company, 10 years ago I knew it would involve working very odd / long hours. I also knew that by running choirs this would entail working some evenings and weekend, these being the most common times for rehearsals and performances. That’s not to say that I always relish the idea of leaving the house at 3.30am, or getting back after a choir rehearsal at 11pm. But I do get to spend time doing two jobs which I love and also get quite a lot of flexibility to work the hours that I choose around choir rehearsals and recordings.
Most of my choirs rehearse in the evenings, and I’m well aware that the majority of choir members will have done a full days work, dashed home to get a quick bite to eat before turning round and going straight back out to attend a choir rehearsal. A lot of these people will also have husbands, wives, children etc who they leave at home fending for themselves whilst they are out, hopefully enjoying themselves, at a choir rehearsal. For many, being in a choir is quite a big commitment as it’s not just a one off but usually a regular weekly commitment. Then, there are the concerts and performances, usually at weekends which means giving up a number of Saturday evenings during the course of the year.
When you look at it like that, I sometimes wonder why anyone would join a choir, or indeed has time to join a choir! I can only assume they join because they want to! With my choirmaster’s hat on therefore, it’s very much down to me to make sure the choir meets the needs and expectations of its members. Above all, it should always be fun. With this in mind, I am now going to prepare for my next two choir rehearsals. The first is this afternoon with the GWH Choir in Swindon and then later on this evening with The BlueBelles.