Join a Wolfpack

The best movie theater experience I’ve ever had happened at my viewing of the original “Hangover” movie. I laughed so hard and so often that I missed some of the movie, and had to see it a second time to fill in the holes of what I missed.

One of the many takeaways from that movie (yes, I said it – there are many), is the idea of the Wolfpack; a close knit group of friends who share their lives together.

As choral directors, our professional lives can easily and quickly become isolated and lonely. We are the leaders of our programs, and are responsible for running rehearsals and/or classes from early morning into the late evening many days a week and sometimes on weekends. I have found that my professional development, my personal sanity, and my teaching effectiveness are drastically improved when I take the opportunity to connect with friends who can relate to the daily demands of the choral industry.

I am fortunate to have a group of choral directors who I can lean on for support, solicit for ideas, and generally have a great time with. While they are an excellent resource for professional questions about repertoire, rehearsal techniques, and program management, they’re also good for sports memes in our group text, palling around at conferences, and general shenanigans. If you’ve seen the movie “Tag” you get the idea.

The point is that while choral conducting is not the most stressful career choice we could have made, it is one of the most demanding; of our time, our hearts, and of our disciplined attention to our singers and our craft. Many conductors run successful programs and have fulfilling careers as isolated, lone wolf-type professionals, but I have found that it’s much more fulfilling to have a wolf pack to share it all with. If you don’t already belong to this kind of social/professional circle, I would encourage you to make it a point to connect with a fellow conductor or two. Set up a monthly coffee, text each other silly memes, email song ideas, or just lend an ear. I can’t promise that it will make you better, but I guarantee it has done that for me.