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How to Overcome Musical Challenges

As I write this, I am heading home from a string of performances with our local Symphony Chorus. It has been a hectic week.

It started on Monday night with a rehearsal of a work we are performing at the Melbourne Festival. It’s a large scale work with extreme difficulty. The work is in Chinese and uses many extended vocal techniques and unusual vocal effects and the choir is all required to use some props.

Tuesday and Wednesday night were rehearsals for the work we are performing right now – Holst the planets. It is a great work, reminding me of star wars. For me though, it has also had challenges.

This piece requires us to perform offstage. This creates a set of challenges I have not experienced before.

Because the music is playing on stage and the chorus is off stage, I can bearly hear the musicians. As a result, it is hard to gain cues on when to sing and where we are in the music. The thing I noticed is that during sound check, this is a real problem, but during the performance itself, I can hear perfectly.

When we start to sing, it’s like a mass of sound. The music seems so loud that it is ear-splitingly loud! I had to keep my wits about me and just sing no matter what I actually heard. This means counting the bars the rests like crazy to make sure I enter when I should.

Do I consider those things obstacles to my success as a chorister?

Absolutely not! For me, any challenges I experience are solutions waiting to happen. It’s about finding solutions to the challenges that are thrown at me.

There’s a saying out there that says “where there’s a will, there’s a way”, and that’s precisely what I think. I just have to work out the solutions to a given problem.

Sometimes it takes a lot of thought on my part and after this and consulting with others, I will usually come with a solution that works.

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