Many years ago when I was about a foot shorter than I am currently, I joined something called the Cubs, which I think is still part of the Scouts. I’m not entirely sure how this came about – presumably my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to do something physical outdoors, rather than just ‘poncing about’ playing the organ at our local church. One of my few memories from this experience was being in a nasty little hut one evening, playing some sort of game which seemed to involve hitting the lid of a coffee jar around the floor.
Then, there were the silly names. We were all put into ‘packs’ lead by Sixers and Seconders and had to wear a woggle. I do also recall being involved in the Remembrance Day service which involved lots of marching around carrying a banner. Don’t get me wrong, I like all the pomp and ceremony of such events and it’s nice to see things done properly. However, even back then I remember wishing I was involved with the music rather than having to be on ‘parade’ or whatever it is cubs & scouts do.
Not surprisingly, my time with the cubs didn’t last very long. Probably a few months at the most. However, the one thing which I did take away from my time in the cubs was their motto – Be Prepared. The full motto (which I had to google) is thus: I promise that I will do my best, To do my duty to God and to the Queen, To help other people, And to keep the Cub Scout Law. The Cub Scout Law: Cub Scouts always do their best, Think of others before themselves, And do a good turn every day. It would be very arrogant of me to suggest that I live my entire life according to these morals. But nevertheless, it is certainly something to aim for, even if on most days I probably fall well short of this ideal.
The scout motto is something which could be applied to many areas of life but I have often considered it alongside my work with choirs. Despite running 5 choirs, I’m always worried that I often don’t do as good a job as I should do when it comes to taking rehearsals. And no, this is certainly not a cue for sympathy, just a statement of fact. To run a decent choir rehearsal means you should plan what you are going to rehearse which includes knowing as much as possible about the song in question and planning for the points which choir members may find a little tricky.
But this is not about me. What I admire most about all of my choir members is the effort they are prepared to put in when it comes to learning the music to sing at a concert or event. All of my choirs now perform without music & I know from experience of singing in choirs myself, this is not to be taken lightly. Whilst I try to encourage choir members to learn the words in good time ahead of concerts, I am aware they are all very busy people and as such do not have huge amounts of spare time to sit around learning words. I therefore try to help by giving them as many opportunities to sing the songs in rehearsal, which is usually a good way to learn words. Where possible I provide rehearsal tracks and recordings so that choir members can listen and ‘sing along’ in their own time.
I am always very grateful to the huge amount of effort and time which my choir members put into learning songs and preparing for concerts. I only hope that I am doing enough to help them with their endeavours.