Going on tour – just how hard can it be?

paperclips

Yesterday, whilst in my capacity as a Church Organist, 2 unique and interesting things occurred.  Firstly, I actually listened to a bit of a sermon and secondly by reading my book throughout the sermon I proved that, contrary to popular opinion, men can in fact multi-task.  The opening lines of the sermon caught my attention. Tim (the only vicar I’ve encountered who gives good sermons) was telling us how his daughter was off on a school trip but at 3am the coach that was booked to take them from the school to the airport failed to show up.  As a result of this the tired and sleepy parents suddenly found themselves all hurtling down the M4 to Heathrow, instead of heading straight back to their beds.  Fortunately the story had a happy ending and all the kids made it to the correct flight.

Who knows what went wrong on that occasion – I certainly wouldn’t want to be the owner of that coach company this morning!  Nevertheless sometimes, however much you plan ahead, things don’t quite work out as you expect.  In a couple of months time, I will be taking my all Female Community Choir, The Pewsey Belles, on tour to Paris.  Aside of still not being quite sure how I managed to wangle permission for this from my wife, the most alarming thing is that my name has been put down on the paperwork as ‘Group Leader’. The implication of this is that no sensible adult could be found.

Fortunately our tour is being organised by the professionals at Rayburn Tours, who know a thing or two about putting on choir tours.   This is good,because i refuse to spoon-feed people and will not being doing head counts every 5 minutes to make sure everyone is on the coach, or has made it to the lunch stop.  Of course the most likely outcome of this policy is that I will get left behind!   Currently however, the logistics of actually getting people onto a bus are still quite some way off.    The first, and potentially I thought the hardest challenge, was asking all the ladies in my choir to tell me their date of birth!  Surprisingly, no one seemed to mind this, although it did strike me as unusual that everyone in the choir claimed they were 39!

Now I should have prefaced this by saying that whilst I have been running choirs for more years than I can remember and have been on at least a dozen ‘tours’ with choirs ever since my school days, this September marks the first time that I have ‘taken’ a choir on tour.  For me, as well as offering a unique experience to The Pewsey Belles and doing something different in celebration of the choir’s fifth year, I also wanted to put on my ‘CV’ that I have taken a choir on tour.

A Curriculum Vitae is a curious thing – literally it translates as ‘Course of life’. But is it?  From what I can tell, most people use their CV as a place to exaggerate all their achievements, boast about winning awards and leading successful teams on missions to procure more paperclips than ever before.  Clearly no one has thought to tell the average sales rep that achieving a badge for swimming a length when they were aged 6, doesn’t really make them award winning in the context of global paperclip distribution.

I was reminded of this earlier in the week when someone asked me what experience I had of putting on large scale Choir events. At first it threw me; What classes as a large event? Are we talking about a large choir or the notion of getting a good sized audience committed to attending a concert?   As a choirmaster I don’t mind standing in front of large audience – I grew out of being nervous about such things years ago.  Nevertheless, the bigger challenge is often to get the audience to turn up in the first place.  So I quickly whizzed through my virtual CV and decided that probably the largest choir I have conducted is 350 and the largest audience I have conducted in front of is about 1600.  Technically, however, I didn’t arrange the event!

So next year, assuming we all manage to get back from Paris, there will be even bigger challenges and more large scale events than ever before.  I very much doubt there will be any awards handed out, but at least I will have another tick on my virtual CV.


Jules Addison is a Music Producer and Sound Engineer who Directs 5 choirs in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.