I can’t begin to tell you how many rehearsals I have attended in my six decades of life. Play rehearsals, solo vocal rehearsals, choral rehearsals, barbershop quartet rehearsals, rock band rehearsals, country/bluegrass band rehearsals, wedding rehearsals, story telling rehearsals, voice over rehearsals, etc.
I have practiced performing in a variety of settings for a variety of purposes over the years. I have rehearsed for CPR class (remember Resusci Anne?), Lamaze childbirth class, sermons I’ve preached, speeches I’ve given, classes I’ve taught, and events where I’ve presided as Master of Ceremonies.
Of course, we all know what rehearsal means, right? In farming terms it could mean something like “cutting the ground again,” or “dragging the soil over again.” Now a hearse carries a coffin, right? Well, some of the re-hearsals I have attended seem to fit the definition of “a session where we dug up something already dead and buried, and we buried it a second time.” Can you relate?
All kidding aside . . . (Perhaps! For I make no guarantees).
Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse. Ad nauseam.
It is inescapable, isn’t it? We must rehearse! I have friends who are professional musicians, and actors. No matter how long they’ve been in the business – they still rehearse. I just got to see an old friend of mine (country music legend, Don Williams) perform in Chattanooga recently. Don will be 75 years old this spring. He’s been in the music business for decades; he has 17 number one hits. He still has to rehearse.
No one is exempt.
Why do we need all this rehearsal? Have you ever asked yourself that question?
Human beings are relatively intelligent, right? We retain information pretty well, right? They used to say if you learned how to ride a bike as a child, for instance, you will never forget, right?
Then why all this need for rehearsal?
I have found that if I set my mind to diet (for example) I start out pretty well in the morning, faithfully keeping my ideals in mind. But by evening something odd happens. The ideals of the morning fade and go . . . somewhere. I am almost a different person. You know the rest. So, what is the remedy?
As much as I hate to admit it – I need rehearsal.
When a performer stands before you on stage (just like the musicians I watched last night on the Grammys), they stand there after hours and hours of rehearsal. Sometimes, even after all that, you wonder if they’ve not rehearsed quite enough. [Nervousness can stop even the most talented musician from performing well.]
The fact is, we humans are magnificent forgetters. We can be up to our ears in an endeavor or discipline, step away from it, and then behave as if we never heard of it at all.
I have a morning ritual. Most mornings about 6:30 in the AM, I rise from bed, make coffee, then sit by my front window and pray. I do this because I know that if I do not center my thoughts as the day begins, if I do not focus my mind, if I do not rehearse the foundational truths I have chosen to live by, my day is likely to go awry.
This is true for believers and nonbelievers alike. Human beings are like a loose focusing ring on a camera, a gliding stage that spins with the wind. We must be regularly focused in order to avoid distortion and blurry performance. Some do this with self talk, others use a variety of ways to frame their minds for the day ahead. And frame them, we must!
Are we fickle? Yes!
Are we changeable? Like the wind!
Organizations know this, too. If you are a part of an organized group you will usually find that your meetings are begun with a rehearsal of “who we are, what we believe, why we do what we do,” etc. If you go to an AA meeting you will hear the same twelve principles rehearsed each time. If you go to a medical convention you will hear words reminding participants of the reason for their profession and the foundational guidelines by which they practice medicine. Grocery store management requires its department heads to “huddle” in the same way sales forces do; it is imperative that they are on the same page, having the same goals, striving toward the same end.
For instance, think of what would happen to a football team that never rehearses the basic principles of the sport, but assumes having learned it once is good enough. Or a basketball team that does not regularly revisit the fundamentals of the game.
If left to chance, if left to . . . accident . . . then the result will be accidental. Hit or miss.
No. What we need is intentionality in our work, purpose in our endeavors, focus that runs deep in our hearts.
And all that comes (potentially, at least) as a result of . . . rehearsal.
We drag the harrow across the ground again. And again. And again. We turn the soil over and over again. We repeat the phrases, not mindlessly, but with as much attention as we can muster. We concentrate. We engage. We perform.
Then we do it again.
It sounds like the epitome of boredom when described with words. But the truth is, the doing of it, the actual activity itself (with a mind that is fully engaged) is more akin to the feeling one gets as they perfect a physical movement, like the joy a fisherman experiences when he perfects his fly fishing casting. Or when a pianist reaches a level of comfort and ease while doing Hanon exercises. Or when a runner’s body is honed into a finely tuned instrument, and the runner experiences the elation produced by an endorphin high as she pushes her body into a rhythm, an almost effortless plateau of performance.
Boredom? Absolutely not!
Rather skill that comes from a history of rehearsing well. A satisfaction that can hardly be explained, but must be experienced to fully understand. An absolute joy even in the midst of exhaustion.
So, lace up your dancing shoes. It’s time to rehearse. With a smile.