Wonderlijke tijden. Verstoring van de bestaande orde. Wat voor jou belangrijk is wordt bedreigd – en je zoekt steun, houvast, geborgenheid. Je behoefte aan zekerheid groeit, maar waar vind je die nog? De werkelijkheid schreeuwt je toe: ’Je bent op jezelf aangewezen!’ Ben je dus alleen? Nee! Want we zijn hier samen. Niemand is alleen. En we hebben elkaar nodig. Meer dan ooit. Deze tijd vraagt om tevoorschijn komen. Laten zien wie je bent. Je niet meer verschuilen maar meedoen. Inbrengen wat jij kunt bijdragen – door te doen waar jíj blij van wordt. En je door niets of niemand meer bang laten maken. Wanneer je de moed kunt opbrengen om voluit te leven – recht uit je hart, en geholpen door je hoofd – ben je minder alleen dan je denkt. Dan kun je steun, houvast en geborgenheid ervaren. Bij jezelf, en bij de ander. En dan heb je ook wat te geven – dan geef je wie jij in wezen bent.

zondag, januari 21, 2007

Happy Together - in english now!

Once upon a time... there was a choir in The Hague, Holland. It was a popmusic choir, called Pepperoni. They were part of a foundation of 4 popmusic choirs: VokaalTotaal, all from The Hague. A childrens choir, a youngsters choir, a girlzzz choir and the adults: Pepperoni. They all give their own concert once a year and do some separate activities. They all have their own audiences, mostly consisting of friends and families.

How it all began
‘Me and you and you and me, no matter how they toss the dice, it had to be, the only one for me is you and you for me, so happy together...’. Every Monday evening this was the warming up song of ‘Pepperoni’. But alas, nothing ‘happy together’ about it. There were rows, fights and hassle all the time. Everyone complained about each other: the director wasn’t good enough, the repertory made no sense and so on. The sopranos blamed the altos: ‘You are always tuning in too late’. Complaints from the basses about the tenors: ‘I can’t hear myself because of your loudness’. The director threatening to leave unless his pay would go up. This meant either the board or the director had to quit. Accusations from all sides, everyone pointing at eachother, no one was listening anymore. And then finally, it was enough, the crisis was complete, the choir had hit the bottom. Finally there was silence....

The listening
No one knew how to proceed, except that they didn’t want to give up. To buy time, they agreed a typical Dutch compromise: the director got a salary increase for the time being funded by a contribution increase for the members. The board temporarily resigned and a quality committee was installed.
They started by listening. They asked everybody involved the same question: ‘What do you want, what is it you want to achieve here’. And interestingly, everyone wanted the same things: more performances, better quality, a broader repertory, more sense of partnership and more discipline. In short: Offer more quality and seek new challenges - together’

The quality
They started off by working on their ‘core business’: singing. They looked at the singing qualities of the individual choir members. Because there were some areas for improvement. They introduced voice assessments. Some members appeared to be unable to keep tune. Or couldn’t keep good time. Not very practical when you sing in a choir. So these members were asked to leave. And this obviously resulted in loyaltyconflicts among the remaining members, because an amateur choir is also serves social needs. Nevertheless they agreed that the the test was a minimum requirement and needed if they wanted ‘more and better’. They also introduced voicetraining: learning how to make the best use of ones voice, how to use the whole body when singing. Confrontational, scary and exciting at the same time. From the improvement of the individual voices, the overall quality grew. They began to sing with one common voice, making the one sound, together.

The teaming up
Now that they had started working on the quality of their singing they then started looking at the the repertory: they wanted more songs and more challenges. They practiced more and they started to look from inside out. For whom were they actually practicing? For what purpose? And then it clicked: why don’t we take upon something together? With all 4 choirs and hence for all 4 audiences! And 4 choirs can also sing together, and in different constitutions... suddenly there was a reason to cooperate: there was a common ambition, a great way to get to better quality and more challenges. It only just had not yet been invented....

The roots
They started working together on a combined project, and yet, they felt something was missing. Because, all very well: more quality and challenges, but how so? It was abstract, not yet something to get excited about, they didn’t have a picture, let alone a sound..... A sound? That gave the inspiration: The Hague’s very own popsound! In the Netherlands, The Hague is Popcity No 1. Bands named The Golden Earring, Shocking Blue and Earth & Fire were were famous in the seventies; and today there are Kane, Anouk and Di-rect. It was so obvious and so logical: Choires from The Hague sing popmusic from The Hague. Four ‘Haguish’ choirs on one big ‘Haguish’ podium. Finally they had a direction for their repertory: only The Hague. It reduced the number of possible choices and thus, the chance of fights. It meant they could easily select 20 new songs. Moreover: they obtained subsidy from the City as it was a local project.

The dip
All in all it was a lot of hard work, practicing, finding a podium, singing with different choirs, with different people standing next to you. Lots of changes and lots of resistance. Disbelief: do you see it happen? Fights and rows again, just what they did not want to have.

The lifeline
And the whole thing might not have happened, had not one of the choir members sent a historical e mail to all the others.
‘Just imagine, on a Saturday night in November, in theatre ‘The Regentess’ 500 people in the audience, 4 choirs, 100 singers waiting anxiously backstage. Each choir gives their own performance, and also in mixed constellations, the children with the youngsters, the girlzz with the adults, all girls and women together and so on. At the end everyone together. There is an orchestra that accompanies us, consisting of popmusicians from bands in the Hague. A performance of real Haguish poplegend. There is real decor, videoclips, professional sounds. At the end the applause is overwhelming and the audience doesn’t stop asking for a reprise. Can you all see it, can you picture this?’
Yes, they could, it was suddenly conceivable, inspiring and challenging. They moved ahead, fully empowered by this story.

The Big Picture
This story was their lifeline in the months that followed. If the going got tough they went back to their Big Picture. Then they knew again what they worked for. Gradually everyone got more and more involved, eventually, everyone had a task to perform. And so it became everyones’ enterprise, not just the directors’, or the comittees’. They all worked for something they believed in. They all surfed along on the wave, even if someone else panicked or gave up.

The result
And then finally, came November. Their Saturday evening. There they stood, excited and nervous. Anxious how they would be received. It was a tremendous success. It was better and more beautiful than they had ever even dreamed about. The audience was thrilled but they were even more thrilled themselves. They didn’t know they could do this and were pleased as children with the result. Two years before they were in a mega crisis, the choir had almost collapsed. And now, from a fermate, a prolonged rest, they had found a new basis. A new goals gave them direction and with that a context for getting there. They reached their goal. ‘Happy Together’. For that moment at least, because eventually it will be time for a new goal, a new story!

Translation & editing: Henriette van Swinderen, Interdependency.com (THNX!)

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More