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    Happy Holidays, Manic Musicians

    Tips for Holiday Concert Season Survival

    It’s that time of year again… the time when people love the sound of joyous holiday music to put them in the mood to celebrate with friends and family.  Whether the songs are nostalgic, fun, reflective, or worshipful, no one can deny that music is a big part of what makes the holidays so magical.

    The folks who make music this time of year, whether in church, school, or the community, know that the holidays bring with them much behind-the-scenes craziness.  In order to help frazzled musicians develop some strategies to hang onto their sanity during all this busyness, here are a few tips:

    Delegate

    If you’re a director, you’re used to having many balls in the air at the same time, but you don’t really have to juggle every ball thrown into the mix.  Need someone to shepherd young singers to and from the risers?  Make sure several parents have signed up for that job.  Will there be Christmas trees flanking the stage that need lights?  There is a dad out there waiting to take that on.  Need a program?  Get the information to a tech-savvy volunteer and see how wonderfully it comes out.

    Rehearse early and build in extra rehearsal time

    Everybody loves to hear, “You know what?  We don’t really need that rehearsal on Wednesday.  Let’s take that day off.”  Certainly more than they like to hear, “Wow, this isn’t even close to ready.  I need to call a couple extra rehearsals.”  Whenever possible, over-schedule your rehearsal time at the beginning of the process.  Better to prepare your ensemble for many rehearsals and then pleasantly surprise them with a reprieve than to suddenly have to scrape for enough rehearsal to present a polished performance.

    An ounce of prevention…

    Nothing strikes fear into an ensemble like a soloist who’s coming down with bronchitis the week before the performance.  Even though you might feel as though you don’t have time to baby your health, failing to do so can result in more time lost than if you’d made sure to get a full night’s sleep now and then.  It’s not really optional.

    Maintain focus

    For many, the end of the year is a time of spiritual refection, and keeping this deeper purpose at the center of what we do as musicians can be a big help in managing the frenzy.  In the words of David DiMarino, J.W. Pepper’s vice president of strategic business operations and church musician:  “I seek to find a handful of times throughout the season where I can sit down next to the fireplace with my favorite carols playing in the background and contemplate ‘the reason for the season.’  Taking a few unhurried moments throughout the Christmas season keeps me grounded and focused on why I do all that I do in my crazy life as a church musician.”

    With just a little extra attention to managing the inevitable insanity that crops up when musicians are in demand, the music of the season will come out sounding fabulous. And when musicians can jingle those bells without becoming (too) jangled, everybody has a happier holiday!

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    Rebecca Minor
    Rebecca P Minor’s passion for the performing and visual arts offers her an abundance of material to draw from when writing. She spends much of her time writing fantasy novels, illustrating, and indulging her love of movies. She resides in southeastern Pennsylvania.

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