Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A tale of two choruses

Last night I rehearsed with the women's chorus whose annual show I am MC'ing on Saturday. This is my third consecutive year working with the ladies of Harmony Crossroads, so when I walk in the door I'm immediately among friends. (You'll notice that I deftly avoided saying "old friends." "Old" is not a word one uses — even as part of a colloquial phrase — in describing women of one's acquaintance. Not if one wishes to continue the acquaintance.)

It's interesting to watch the women at work, and compare them to my own all-male chorus that performs the same style of music. Assigning characteristics from general observations is always dangerous, but I know both groups well enough that I believe my conclusions are sound. My notes are necessarily tempered by the differing levels of ability between the two choruses — my chorus possesses a significantly higher overall skill level than this particular women's chorus, not because of gender but because of individual personnel and the differing goals of the two groups.

The women appear, in general, to be less resistant to instruction and direction. They don't necessary implement the instructions any better than the men do, but they seem to be more open to receiving them. Men have more of a "I'll do it my way, doggonit" mindset, and when pushed to adjust, tend to push back. On the other hand, the men are more persnickety about musical and performance details. Men need more direct and specific instruction about how to do something, and want thorough explanation of the process involved in making the change. The women's chorus is more intuitive about such things.

Related to this is the fact that the women exhibit better discipline in rehearsal. There's less extraneous chatter and more attention focused on the director at all times, and when the noise gets out of hand, the women can be more readily and quickly corraled. That would seem to be counter to the notion that women are more interpersonally talkative than men, but in this case I think it's more a matter of our guys simply being more stubborn about not shutting up when told to do so.

One fact that surprises me — because I guess I expect it to be otherwise — is that the women aren't substantially better visual performers than the men. I think of women as being freer emotionally and less rigid, such that their performance should be more naturally effusive. Instead, what I observe is that the men's chorus will execute specific performance concepts better, though in the main more robotically, than the women. The women get into the flow of the performance more readily, and seem to internalize the music better — there's much more body involvement when the women sing — but they have a somewhat harder time executing a cohesive performance plan. I always see more uncertainty when I watch the women's chorus than I notice among my risermates. There are a couple of truly stellar performers in the group, however — in particular, I'd trade three members of their front row for any three of my guys in a heartbeat.

The women seem to have more fun, and I enjoy working with them for that reason. (I'll avoid making a chauvinistic comment like, "And they're easier to look at, too." Though in several cases, it's true.) This chorus is always so enthusiastic and welcoming that I look forward to the handful of hours we share each year. Their shows are always entertaining, both on the stage and in the audience. I'm honored (even flattered) that they keep asking me back. At least this year I don't have to dress up like a chicken (as I did briefly in our first show together) or sing a solo (as I did last year).

1 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Joel offered these pearls of wisdom...

Interesting observation. Thanks!

8:45 AM  

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