Yesterday was Valentine’s day. In case you didn’t notice. I had a regular day of rehearsals and lessons, so for me it was just Tuesday. One of my students, on the other hand, was a little preoccupied.
Anyway, yesterday was my weekly rehearsal with “Singer I”. She came in looking frazzled, and told me she was in charge of organizing her group to perform singing Valentines, or something to that effect. So I wished her good luck, and we started rehearsing.
Things were going pretty well, considering she wasn’t exactly warmed up. After the third song, somewhere around the twenty-minute mark, she took the time to answer a text, justifying it by saying it was regarding these singing Valentines and everything has to be just perfect because people paid good money for these and she’s the only one doing any work and if she doesn’t do it the whole thing will fall through, etc, etc. I said fine, whatever. If she wants to spend part of her weekly thirty minutes with me texting, it’s her money.
She sets down her phone, and we start another song. It’s in ABA form, and it’s probably not the easiest piece she’s ever sung, with some interesting meter changes and harmonies. And it’s in Italian. She seems to have a pretty good handle on it. She gets through the A and B sections, no problem. Return of A, she starts singing, and in the reflection on the piano I see her – still holding the music – pick up her phone and answer a text while she’s still singing.
I stop, spin around, and say, “You are not seriously going to answer a text while you’re singing. WHILE YOU’RE SINGING.”
She was terrified and mortified. And I have to say, it must be a sign of what I go through every day that the reason I yelled at her was not out of disrespect for me, or my time, or for the music, (which are all legitimate reasons), but because she was treating it as a non-time-worthy activity, couldn’t devote her entire attention to singing, and therefore was reverting to old habits she was supposed to be correcting and was thereby reinforcing both the old habits and functioning in autopilot. And I told her as much.
She said she was so sorry, that this was just stressing her out, that if she didn’t do it nobody would, etc. I told her I didn’t care – either focus or do something else. So we ended the rehearsal early.
Really. If it’s so important that you can’t go half an hour without having to divert a crisis, cancel the damn rehearsal.