productivity

10 Secrets for Running a Successful Choir Rehearsal

10 Secrets for Running a Successful Choir Rehearsal

Success? Rehearsal? Have you met my choir?! 

I know, I know. Choir members can be chatty and they don't always show up on time and sometimes it feels like you stand up in front of them and say the same. things. every. week.

I get it.

But success doesn't mean everything will be perfect. It doesn't mean setting unrealistic expectations for your group or holding them to unfair standards. Success is simply the "sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out" (Robert Collier).

And it starts with you.

Jim Rohn wisely said, "Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don't wish it were easier; wish you were better" (source). What can you do today that will set you up for success in rehearsal this week? What can you do in rehearsal that will set your choir up for success?

Here are a few helpful tips and strategies for running a successful rehearsal, this and every week:

How to Plan a Productive Choir Rehearsal

How to Plan a Productive Choir Rehearsal

Like most church choirs, you probably have a mid-week rehearsal. This is a great time to prepare music for Sunday and the next few weeks. Please do not spend an entire rehearsal on Sunday's anthem! Plan your time carefully, use it wisely in rehearsal, and everyone will leave happy and encouraged. A successful, productive choir rehearsal takes proper preparation, careful planning, good time management skills, and attention to detail. I recommend dividing your rehearsal time into five components:

Warm-ups
Music for Sunday
Other Anthems
Announcements
Devotion/Prayer

Plan each category carefully the day of (or one day before) your rehearsal. Remember:

"Success in the choral rehearsal is a direct result of thorough planning." (source)

The Secrets of Batching in Freelance Work

The Secrets of Batching in Freelance Work

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your to-do list? Ever have trouble knowing where to start? Do you feel like you spend your time flitting from one activity to the next just trying to get everything done and keep all those plates spinning? I feel you. Being a freelancer is tough work and the balancing act of working on many projects at once is no joke. The solution? Batching.

Described in the book, Getting Things Done, batching is a process of grouping like tasks together and doing them at the same time (source). Batching is great for emails, phone calls, social media, errands, paying bills, planning, cooking, cleaning, and much more.

Think about it: If you need to run to the Post Office, deposit a few checks at the bank, and pick up something quick at the grocery store, would you make three separate trips during the day, or try to run all three errands while you're out? If possible, it probably makes sense to try to get all your errands done in one trip. Similarly, if you're cooking dinner, would you start sautéing, then file a few loose receipts, then go check the mail? I hope not! When you're cooking, you chop, sauté, stir, serve, and eat, without stopping in the middle to change gears and do something else.

Want to know a few secrets? Here's why batching is the way to go:

Debunking the Myth of the Ideal Day

Debunking the Myth of the Ideal Day

We talk a lot about our ideal day as if it was a dream world we sometimes like to escape to where there are no alarms, the sun is always shining, you have time to sip your coffee and read in the morning, and you seem to float through the day without cares or obligations or stress.

Sounds too good to be true, right? But really, what makes a day ideal instead of just ordinary?

My answer would probably be time: Time to do the things I want to do, time for things I enjoy, and time to spend with people I love. Feeling like I have time helps me feel more relaxed and rested, it helps me feel in control. And having space in my day makes me feel better about what I do. I'm more engaged and focused and inspired and driven. It all comes back to time management, doesn't it? We all have the same 24 hours in a day - it's all about how we choose to spend it.

7 Tips for a More Productive Choir Rehearsal

7 Tips for a More Productive Choir Rehearsal

Making progress, learning, improving, feeling a sense of accomplishment - ah yes, a productive choir rehearsal is something we all strive for, though attaining it may be another story.

You might be really organized, good with time management, and good about getting things done on your own, but add a group of chatty adults to the mix and suddenly a productive rehearsal feels like a more distant goal.

How can you get your group focused and keep everyone on task in rehearsal?

Here are a few helpful tips:

Start rehearsal on time.

It sounds like a simple concept, but this is something that requires diligence. Make a commitment to start rehearsal right on time each week and you'll communicate to your group that you value and respect their time (and that you have an agenda to get through!). Which brings me to my next point...

How to Practice Efficiently in 30 Minutes Or Less

How to Practice Efficiently in 30 Minutes Or Less

We're a few weeks into the school year now, and I am starting to settle into my new routine.

This year, I'm accompanying four school choirs and a church choir, playing a service every Sunday, and teaching four afternoons a week. I love the variety this offers and I love being back on the bench (organ and piano!), but it requires something we never seem to have enough time for as professionals - practicing. As a student, I had anywhere from 2-6 hours a day to practice, and though certainly intense, I now recognize that time was a luxury. As professionals, we gig, we teach, we play, we write, we email, we manage, we coordinate, we network. When is there time to practice?

My new schedule for the Fall has pockets of time and I'm learning to be extra productive and efficient with my practicing.

Here are a few things I'm learning:

The First Friday

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It's 10 a.m. Friday morning.

It's the end of the first week of 2012 and the first Friday since setting these personal boundaries.  It's a great feeling.  I have several projects to tackle today but I feel refreshed and empowered to make decisions and get things done.

In fact, I felt so much better after setting boundaries for myself this week that I took things one step further - no email after dinner.  It's just so easy to reach for my phone. . .just to see if there's anything there.  I very rarely respond to emails in the evening - I find I have much more clarity for formulating responses in the morning - so really I'm just taking on an extra burden before climbing into bed.  Who needs that?!  I've had two successful nights of not checking my inboxes and I have to tell y'all, I haven't missed it!  It frees up my evenings for conversations, writing, and organizing my thoughts.  And, when I check my accounts in the morning, I feel ready to make those decisions (after all, each email is a decision waiting to be made, is it not?)

Here's to a quiet, productive Friday (2012, I love you already).

P.S.  I wish it looked like this outside today!  Still waiting for snow...