There has been much discussion recently about football managers, their relationships with the players and, by extension, their influence on match results. There are well-known studies of the effect a new manager taking charge of a failing team can have – achieving instant success (if only for a game or two).
On the same day in December 2015 that the Guardian newspaper published an article by Oliver Burkeman explaining why singing in a choir makes you happy, I discovered the benefit of having a new team manager (or Musical Director to be more accurate) in charge of our local choir – the Royston Choral Society.
I started singing in the choir in 2000. I missed the team-work associated with playing football and I felt that my physical fitness could do with a boost. I started running for fitness and joined the choir for the team-work. The running also helped when I was late for our weekly rehearsals…
And that’s been the case for the past 15 years with a Musical Director who lived music 24 hours a day and showcased the best the choir could manage for up to five concerts a year. I suppose I’d accepted that we’d achieved a creditable standard but didn’t have the potential to do much more.
But then poor health forced our incumbent Musical Director to step down and, in September of this year, we ‘signed’ a new manager. For me this was both scary and exciting having only sung under the leadership of the previous conductor. After a comprehensive interview process there was agreement between choir members and the panel as to who was the best of the three candidates.
And we are now discovering how right we were with the appointment. When I joined I was told that singing in the choir was firstly about having fun and secondly about making a good sound. We’re now doing both by the bucket-load!
Our new Musical Director and conductor Andrew O’Brien has managed, in just three months, to convince us we can perform better, to sing with feeling (if that doesn’t sound too pretentious) and to sing at a higher standard than I could ever have imagined – all with largely the same group of (ageing) singers.
Our December Christmas concert was an amazing experience – for both choir and audience. Two concert-goers mouthed ‘wow’ after one of our pieces; I’ve never seen that happen before in my 15 years with the Royston Choral Society.
In football, the instant success of the new manager is often followed by a swift slide back to more familiar poor results. I refuse to believe our musical team will return to a lower division while our new manager Andy is in the dugout.
Oliver Burkeman’s article on the delights of singing in a choir is at http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/dec/18/why-singing-makes-people-happy-oliver-burkeman