How important are rules anyway?

Briefly last week, there was a big fiery orb in the sky, ice cream sellers were out in force and the high street retailers suddenly looked foolish for having shops full of winter coats and umbrellas.   Today, however, there is a different view out of my studio window, certainly down here in Wiltshire.  The road outside seems to have been turned into a river and even the ducks are taking shelter!

For some reason, us Brits are renowned for talking about the weather.  Perhaps we see it as a polite and relatively harmless way of starting a conversation.  Or maybe it’s because the weather in the UK is slightly more unpredictable than elsewhere. One minute we feel like it’s the middle of summer and wander around in shorts and t shirts – the following day we are in our winter coats trudging through puddles and fallen leaves. That certainly seems to be the case at the moment.

Of course, it could be worse. In the past week most of the news stories have featured the German car manufacturer VW, who have allegedly found ways of cheating the system to make their cars look more environmentally friendly than they actually are.  Apparently there is a big fuss about this, presumably because if lots of extra pollution gets released, the weather will become even more unpredictable than it already is.  Personally I’m not sure this really matters in the grand scheme of things. Given the size of VW and all its subsidiaries, the world (not to mention a great number of people employed in those companies) would be far worse off, just because some ridiculous politician or rule maker decided to throw the book at them for being a bit dirty.

I like to consider myself a law abiding citizen and to be fair I don’t have all the facts of the VW scandal. Maybe a few people broke a few rules.  But sometimes that’s not such a big deal.  One of the reasons why I tend to make my own arrangements of songs for my choirs is that I get fed up of choir members who make a fuss about the precise length of every note or the way the rhythm is notated.   Now of course, if you are performing JS Bach’s Christmas Oratorio then it should be right, and in accordance with the composers original intentions.  However, if you are a community choir, singing a song by Gary Barlow for example, I’m not entirely sure the precise length of every last quaver makes that much difference.

The most important thing for a choir, is to sing together and agree on how they are going to perform the song.  Whether or not that relates to the way the music is arranged, or in fact whether it’s just how the choir ‘think’ the song goes based on hearing it on the radio is, in the grand scheme of things, not actually that important.   I do like accuracy and I am a stickler for detail. However, most of all I want my choirs to enjoy singing. Provided they all sing a song in the same way, I’m not always overly bothered whether it’s their version or mine!

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Jules Addison is Musical Director for The BlueBellesThe Pewsey BellesCirencester Male Voice Choir & Great Western Harmony