LL across the U.S., rumors abound that certain dioceses will soon return to some semblance of normal parish life. Indeed, they are mostly just rumors right now—and even if they prove true, they don’t necessarily indicate that we’ll all be given the green light to resume full choral activities right away.
Meanwhile, we all continue to feel a loss of connection with our choirs. If you’re part of a very small group, you may have found ways to stay in close communication—and perhaps even get together—with your colleagues. But if you’ve been blessed with a larger program like mine, you’re probably having trouble even picturing all the faces in your soprano section.
I had an idea the other day about how to overcome this challenge. All it takes is a little time and something you already have: a choir roster.
You’ve written down the names and voice types of all your singers, right? Take that list out of your briefcase, or pull it up on screen. Scan the list. What do you see? Names? No. You see faces. You can’t help but see them. And you hear voices—singing voices, of course, due to the nature of our work. But you also hear speaking voices. The voices that tell you stories at rehearsal break or share jokes after Mass. The voices that occasionally arrive in your voicemail on Sunday morning, sounding swollen, informing you of their absence today.
Your choir roster is full of people. And they’re some of the dearest people you’ll ever meet. You’ve been advised not to spend time with these people right now. But the restrictions don’t say anything about spending time with these people in spirit.
So keep that list handy. Don’t think of it as a choir roster. Think of it as a love list.
Spend time with your love list regularly. You can decide the exact schedule. Let your eyes stop on each one of those names for a few moments. Spend that time thinking about that person. You’ll naturally consider where that person is at in his or her musical and vocal development. But be sure to think also about your relationship with that person. Recall the things you enjoy discussing, the inside jokes you’ve developed, even the misunderstandings or difficulties you’ve encountered.
Take it one step further. Print your love list or make sure it’s accessible on your phone. Go to your church (if the doors aren’t locked) and spend a holy hour in which you pray briefly for each person on the list. Ask for God’s assistance in being exactly the choir director and friend each of those people needs you to be.
Spending time with your love list can help eliminate the possibility of awkwardness when we return to full choral activities—whenever that may be. Your singers will sense that they were never far from your mind. And you’ll feel ready to keep building your relationship with them as you work together to glorify God through music.
Try it. You’ll see.