Charlie Beale

Change through music

This is the website of Dr Charles W. Beale, international choral director, jazz musician, clinician and speaker.

A shout out to older LGBTQ people - the need for intergenerational thinking

I was touched to be mentioned in this Westerner article advocating for older LGBTI Australians by David Hardy, a colleague and friend from Brisbane, Australia, on the GALA Choruses External Relations Committee. Thanks for the shout-out, David!

As he points out, there is an important intergenerational issue that needs addressing in our community (or is that communities?). Older people often feel excluded, or at least unheard, and it is vital that the young know the (often hair-raising!) stories of the old, and the old benefit from the passion and new ideas of the young.

In NYCGMC, we put energy into ensuring the two mix as much as we can. One of our members recently commented to me how unusual it was that, if both are, say, Tenor 2, a 20-something guy can sit next to a 60-something guy in rehearsal, sing together and chat for three hours weekly, and develop a genuine friendship over time without it seeming odd to either of them.

Another way in which our choruses are creating community and connecting people ...

NYCGMC's JetBlue video 2016

It feels great to have achieved our first Corporate Sponsorship. Here are its first fruits. This video appeared on every JetBlue flight in July 2016, and will have been seen by nearly 2 million people. Relieved we sounded good, then ... Less relieved about the final shot in the video, but ah well :)

How is conducting a chorus like leading an organization?

As it turns out, the two processes are in many ways the same.

The key insight for me is that in a performance, I do not sing or play a note. Instead, we conductors make strong and potentially transforming connections with our fellow musicians, which have personal and professional components. At NYCGMC, I facilitate and empower others to do the show, in a kind of extreme delegation process where the vision as all mine, but the implementation is literally all theirs.

Above all, I have to trust my singers and players. I show them the vision, demand a lot from them, and help them to understand what to do on a technical level as well as on an emotional one. But then, I have to give up control, to allow them to commit to their own performance. We support each other, and all of us lead, follow, evaluate, take initiative and contribute equally.

Last week, I saw this article by Shellie Karabell, which explains the process well, and applies what we do in the corporate context. And the parallel is also well documented by the amazing Ben Zander