by Susanne Maziarz, Music Director at Neighbourhood
Each year, the Spirit Choir participates in an exercise called Sectional Healing. Each of the four sections (Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass) meet privately to plan the presentation of a song (of their choice) to the rest of the choir. Everyone must have at least one line of solo, and the group sings in unison the rest of the song (no harmony). The hopeful outcome of the exercise is for the choristers to get to know the members of their section, get comfortable singing in front of each other, and to work on blend and unifying their voices.
It can be tough. Getting together with others to work on group projects takes practice and discipline. We must find commonalities, and ways we can relate to each other that are respectful and clear. We need to take into account each others’ limitations and talents. For it truly to be a democratic process we need to actively listen to each other and give everyone a chance to be heard. We need to accept and be aware of our own psychology and expectations so as to put the group’s needs ahead of our own.
This is hard work, and takes practice. What we can learn at Neighbourhood, in our safe and welcoming space, can then hopefully be carried on in our lives outside of the congregation. My hope is that our life and work here together can actually change us and the way we are in the world. But, it takes practice. Each Sunday service in May we will be offering you an opportunity to practice engaged listening. If we are going to understand anything about each other, we have to be able to listen.