Sunday, March 10, 2013

Choral Conductors Facebook Fishing?

I use the FoxNews technique of the question mark in the title because, like them, I have no specific evidence for my claims.  I could also use their 'some say' technique also, but again, have heard nothing at all from anyone about what I'm going to say here.  I may stick with question marks just for giggles.  And it is entirely possible, probably even likely, that I am way out on a limb with this one.


Is anyone besides me getting annoyed with the current trend of choral conductors throwing out lavish compliments onto Facebook after a gig or performance?  'Last night's performance of the Intergalactic Honor Choir was a thrill, thanks to the preparation of the directors involved, especially Karl Koral, who organized the event.  It was an honor to conduct them.'  This kind of post invariably elicits the return compliment of 'we couldn't have done it without your planetary genius.'  And how about announcing every pissant thing we do and then posting a picture of the plaque or certificate we received?  And how do you feel about the conductor who announces how grateful, honored, or, most gag-inducing of all, blessed they are to be standing in front of their charges and leading them, which is only what they were hired and are paid to do? 

And my favorite: I learn more than I teach.  I have learned a few things from the individual choruses I have conducted over the years, but there was never any doubt in my mind that I knew a helluva lot more than every one of them or I would have gotten out of the business.  And I always taught more than I may have learned. (This is not to deny the  insecurity that afflicts all of us).

These falsely modest devices seem to be simply subterfuges for bragging, first of all, but--more important--mere fishing for compliments: they are so lucky to have you; we couldn't have done it without you; working with you is an artistic revelation and more fun than sex.

Is this just sour grapes on my part?  Could be.  I never had FB to post my glories, coddle my students, be publicly grateful to all involved.  I had to use actual letters in the mail, or later, the occasional email.  Point is, no one saw it but them.  And I didn't thank them, I complimented them, which is what they really wanted.  I wrote these letters throughout my career, beginning with my last LA church choir, 1966-1969. 

Who would be hurt by foregoing FB and simply sending an email to the gig chair, the ensemble?  Why isn't this done more?  Why do we have to publicly demonstrate how diplomatic, Christian, grateful, honored and blessed we are?  Is there something wrong with keeping it private and in the family?  And qui bono by making it public?  Hmmmm?


I finish with questions, too: What the hell ever happened to self-effacement or--saints preserve us--genuine modesty?  Am I the only one left who was raised by Lutherans, who was taught to never have an exalted opinion of oneself or, if so, to at least have the decency to keep it to oneself?

PS: this post is dedicated to Miguel Felipe ('blog more') and Christian Campos ('where's the professional rant?)


karen said...

This is a tough one, Dr. D. I'm probably one of those guilty parties you mention - you can always hide my posts on FB :) I hear you won't be at ACDA. I can't go either, but I will be at Chorus America. Based on Erin's FB post it looks like you both are you going. Can we plan on hanging out? I'd love to catch up.

DmaF said...

It's right in line with the FB need to "confirm my importance/ego/credibility in public so others can see that I matter." i also dislike the "repost if you agree" memes. Here's to honestly complimenting someone in private with no expectation of general sharing!

Buddy James said...

Aileen and I often comment on how many "cacklers" there are in the states. If you are laughing louder than everyone else, you must be happier, too. We enjoy traveling, in part, to be cackle-free. The phenomenon you describe is akin to that one. I am not against, nor above, the occasional public showing of love for those with whom I make music and about whom I care, but certainly not every event is publicly tweet-worthy nor faith reaffirming. Then again, perhaps our professional lives are simply less fulfilling, Bill! Unlucky us!

Anonymous said...

Ego is such an important part of the performer I can't fault it. While I don't choose to trumpet my own accomplishments directly or indirectly via social media I recognize the need for those who do. Separating Ego from Self-Importance is a fiendish task.
Humility, or modesty - a word I do not like at all - is best practiced within the ensemble. In public we as performers are compelled to one degree or another to confirm our importance. How we treat the commodity which is our lifeblood, the individuals who comprise the ensembles which enable us to do our work, is the way we are ultimately judged.

Cindy said...

Love this entry.