I asked 100 women – all Queens of Harmony and/or current int’l top-ten quartet members – to participate in a survey designed to offer advice to quartets still climbing the regional rankings ladder. The questions address song choice, time management, and coaching strategies as well as interpersonal relationships among quartet members and advice on how to deal with disappointment.
Here are some of their responses.
Today’s Question is:
Q. What was the low point of morale in your quartet experience? Has there been a moment when you were unsure about your want to continue? What helped you conquer that low point? What has been the hardest/most valuable lesson learned along the way?
A. I always struggle the most when other important things are competing for my time and attention. I don’t feel like you can just do this part-time or halfway. So, when career, family, health, or other interests vie for time, I struggle to give everything the attention it requires. Sometimes I think there are so many other things I’d like to try! However, when the music comes together, it’s hard to think of anything that would be more rewarding! I think having a quartet that is able to commit to spending time to work together regularly heals most morale issues. It has to be a priority. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that I cannot expect everyone in the world to be as single-minded as me if I want to keep any friends! 🙂
A. Personal conflicts. I don’t like conflict, so it really eats away at me. There were times that it didn’t seem like it was worth it. Friends and other quartet members lent an ear which helped a lot.
A. The low points for me have always revolved around the people, not the singing or how we do in competition. In most cases, we made personnel changes and that in itself is a low point. No matter how much it might be needed to change someone, it’s always hard for everyone….very comparable to a divorce. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to always find a way to constructively share your feelings with each other along the way. Bottling up resentment and/or negative feelings will always backfire somehow.
A. The hardest lesson is compromise. It’s like a marriage. There’s give and take, understanding and disagreements. It’s a team sport. LISTEN to what’s being said. Sometimes you’re wrong. Admit it, get over it, and move on.
A. Long distance and travel was the hardest part. Yes, I wanted to give up a few times but knew it was right.
A. When one member had to move away and we hadn’t won – we had to decide if we should gut it out for another year and hope that we could win or give it up just short of winning. So glad we decided to keep working, despite the distance!
A. There haven’t been any low points for us, thankfully! The most important lesson for us has been to give total respect to the individuality of our members. We don’t all learn music the same way. We all need different things and have different needs when it comes to learning, preparing, styling and competing. We make sure that we each feel comfortable and no one is forced to do anything someone else’s way!
A. My lowest morale point, in this quartet, was during a member change. I was sad that things weren’t working. I learned that even the best laid plans, along with the best intentions, can go awry.
A. In this quartet there hasn’t been a low point. My personal low point came right after we got offstage from the 2nd set the year we won. I remember thinking “If that isn’t it, I’m not sure I have the stamina to do this for another year!” Conquering that was easy — we won about 20 minutes later! The most valuable lesson learned: it’s entirely possible to like the people in your quartet, sing well, and win. I sang in many quartets where “there was always one who . . .” Not so in this one.
A. The lowest point for me came during the second personnel change. I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue with someone new because I had already lived through being the new person and knew how frustrating that process could be. I decided to make the most of it, and give someone new a chance, and it all worked out beautifully. I guess the most valuable lesson is that everything happens for a reason!
A. Distance was a factor, our lives were kind of on hold while trying to achieve the dream. It was like preparing for an Olympic gold medal mentally. Our lives has to be in the right place to be able to connect with each other on a level that no one could interfere with and all four have to do it.
A. It’s hard NOT to be too hard on yourself. We each have a strong work ethic and it’s hard if you feel you’re letting them down even if you’re trying hard on something. But we believe in each other so strongly that the other three pick the down one up consistently!
A. Our 3rd year at International we dropped in placement which was really hard on all of us. We regrouped and worked harder and smarter and the next year made the 15 which helped us to continue on to win.
A. There have been times of doubt and struggle. Honest communication and commonly held goals and expectations are key. There are times of give and take, and times when you personally need to recognize and commit to a giving role when your sisters are in need. On the flip side, you need to recognize and accept help the other three offer.
A. There have been tough times when it feels like it would be easier to give up, but the dedication to the end goal keeps me going.
A. We’ve had some struggles as people have gone through voice trouble/surgery. We did stick it out and stick together and I think that has helped us bond. It’s always about perspective, you can create your own excitement or your own problems, the choice is yours!
A. I did have a period where I was frustrated with what was happening in the quartet, and it was due to personality conflicts and work ethic differences. We were young in our relationship as a quartet, and we didn’t know each other as well as we do now. I talked with my husband to vent and to share my feelings. Our quartet had made a pact on our very first day together that we would never pair off and talk negatively about each other behind each other’s backs. In order to keep that pact, we had some very difficult four-way conversations, which we always approached with difficulty but with respect and love for each other. it was very much like a marriage counseling session, (in fact, better than many marriage counseling sessions in the way we respected each other and didn’t “go there” with each other.) By facing these hard conversations respectfully and together, we learned how to build our quartet marriage into a strong one that can survive hard times. Best lesson: ALWAYS treat each other with love and respect, even through disagreements.
A. Replacing a part…the first time. That was very hard. Three of us knew we wanted to continue, but to keep improving our sound, we would need a different voice. It was not personal. In that regard, it became a business decision…..what was in the best interest of the quartet……how could we represent the Region in the best way? I was reading a book through work that really helped me with that discussion……Crucial Conversations. It’s a wonderful book full of tools to use when having tough discussions. It helped me in my personal life as well as my work life!
A. The low point was when we had to replace a member because it kind of came as a shock, but it turned out to be a good thing. I always wanted to continue singing with the other two quartet members, which really helped me conquer that low point. I kept my eye on the goal and was able to get past the hard times.