After the meeting, I got many interesting comments from passers-by in the halls. One famous and celebrated vocalist who happens to be a member of our congregation forcefully grabbed my hand in his and said, "You directed phrases with feeling! It was remarkable! Your tempos were perfect." Another fine flautist in our midst caught up with me to say that he enjoyed watching because I indicated breathing and cut-off's. Another singer said, "It was so enjoyable to follow you through the many fermatas, because we could!" An alto friend said, "It was wonderful to watch you conduct because I knew your every move had a purpose." The organist found me later and said that he had a new title for me, "You are the Tempo Queen." He explained that he could very easily follow me through these hymns that were long, had contrasting sections and many fermatas, and that the tempos we felt together were spot on. Other people also gave me the normal compliments such as, "Oh, you had such lovely hand movements" or "Your smile made me want to sing." (But these comments were not from musicians, just nice people in the congregation.)
Later in the day, I conducted a newly formed choir of young Church Service Missionaries. We were gathered at a Devotional meeting where a famous artist who specializes in painting scenes from Christ's Life and Mission would be the Guest Speaker. Our "choir" which was very small, just nine people, was making its debut performance. (I decided to stack the deck a bit by asking my son and daughter and her husband to help fill in our ranks. So, we actually had 12 singers for the performance.) We sang "Come We that Love the Lord" as the Opening Hymn and "Lead Kindly Light" just before the talk. I had arranged these hymns so that they could be sung in just 2-parts or more parts depending on the numbers and abilities of our participants (who I had not met until the few rehearsals prior to the performance).
Once again, I got some interesting comments. One young new Church Service Missionary ran up to me as I was gathering the choir folders after the meeting. He said, "This choir is not going to sing again unless you let me be in it!" (I actually knew him, and we laughed and I said that of course I really needed him to sing with us.) Another young Sister Missionary also begged me for information on how she could join the choir. Other comments were from people who said how much they enjoyed the choir's singing or how beautiful the songs were. But the musicians' comments were much more specific. "I could tell you had to do pretty simple music with this group, but you made it sound elegant!" "I knew that you must be singing along because you had fewer females than males, but I could only hear a blended sound." "I think the choir members felt your confidence in them because I never saw you actually look down at the music. You drew the performance out of them." "Boy, I wish our choir director could be as clear with phrasing and cut-off's as you were! Here you took these few kids that had never sung together before and had them looking and sounding so professional. Well done!"
Clearly, paying attention to phrasing and precise cut-off's make a huge difference in the sound and confidence of the group. I confess, it was validating to get such compliments from my peers!