There is a fly on the wallpaper
Sometimes young people pay proper attention when singing in the choir; sometimes they do not. You may feel tired, agitated, excited, etc., or perhaps you are worried or maybe you feel like doing something else. Sometimes you try your best, but things just don’t turn out the way you want. It is almost as if you are no longer capable of deciding for yourself what you want to do. You can see the fly on the wallpaper above the choir leader’s head; you can hear the laughter of the children playing outside; the girl singing in front of you has a piece of fluff in her hair; the boy next to her is wearing red socks (ugh!). Does all this sound familiar to you? To decide for yourself which things you will react to and which things you will concentrate on, you need to have good self-control. This is necessary in many different aspects of your life. You need self-control to learn things. You need self-control to relate properly to other people. And you also need self-control to sing in a choir. If you have self-control, you can decide whether to react or not when you hear, feel, smell, or see something. This is difficult when we are younger than twelve years of age and we only get really good at it when we become adults. The adult brain works differently, allowing us to ignore multiple sensations, so that we can choose whether to react to something or not. This means that for young people concentrating in the choir can be a real problem. But practice makes perfect, and the more we do it together, the easier it becomes.
94.7% of the choir leaders reported that their young choristers do not always concentrate sufficiently. 68.3% of the children and youngsters admitted that this sometimes happens, although they usually said it was the others – not them!
Singers who are unable to concentrate properly are a real and frequently occurring source of frustration for choir leaders. The majority of the singers admit that this happens, but usually attribute the behaviour to other choir members. This might mean that many of them are not aware when they are actually failing to concentrate themselves. Try to be realistic in what you ask of your singers and do not expect things from them that you know/suspect they will be unlikely to deliver. This will make the rehearsals more pleasant and more effective for all concerned.