Making Rest Intentional
As we venture into the month of August, things tend to quiet down, if they aren’t already quiet. Families often escape to vacation destinations in the few weeks prior to school resuming; my family is among that group of people. For church workers, summer is supposed to be a time of more relaxation and quiet, with the impending Labor Day weekend as the unofficial ending of the summer and the beginning of ensemble rehearsals, increased worship attendance, and school.
While hard work is indeed expected of us professionals, it is also important for us to find rest. One of my goals for the Charlotte AGO chapter is to help individuals strengthen their musicianship and professional skills in an effort to secure or maintain employment in the field of music. However, it might be easy to forget that a professional organization which helps promote musical and professional skills should also be encouraging rest and healthy life balance.
Imagine with me for a moment a lengthy choir rehearsal, one in which you are a chorister, that begins with singing—but no warm-up; and ends with singing—with no breaks or opportunity for social time. When I was a student teacher, a similar scenario occurred. The first problem was that the school’s class periods were 2 hours long. The second problem was that I was a naive 22-year-old college student who thought he already knew everything. Initially, I had thought we would just rehearse all 2 hours, but I quickly discovered that the students began to physically lose their musicianship (long after some had simply lost their interest) after the 90 minute mark. I quickly learned that I had to offer the kids breaks, allow them to passively learn (e.g. by listening to a recording), and even give them time to socialize. These opportunities for rest allowed us to have a culture of fun, musical enjoyment, and more productive learning.
Look at this scenario through the lens of your own self: have you ever found yourself trying to do too much? You and I are human beings who have limits. Burnout is real, and is a real problem which then negatively affects both the individual and the organization. Even after the summer is over, make certain that you are finding opportunities for genuine rest in order that you are able to perform and function your best, and also be sure you are affording your volunteers and staff the same.
Mark W. Johanson