Judgmentalism vs Acceptance

A longish post today about something important to me.

Allison, (I don’t remember her last name right now) a wonderful choral director at Naramata Centre several summers ago shared this with us about the different modes of leadership in a choir. As with everything about a choir it can be applied to so much other stuff in our lives.

The mode of Judgmentalism exists where a prior standard is set by observation of another group, and the expectation is made to try to attain these goals. This mindset is based in the belief that the group is inadequate at present and must improve to be acceptable. It is an attitude which is fundamentally rooted in fear, and exists at every level of the arts. No matter how good you are, it is never enough. Your self worth becomes dependent on external approval or disapproval, and fear eventually destroys creativity.

The mode of Acceptance exists where fundamentally there is pleasure and delight in the skills, the discipline, and the creativity of the group. It may be the physical act of singing, of the welling of feeling of a song, but the pleasure is in the here and now of the moment. With this delight comes an endless flow of new ideas and ways of expanding the art form. It is rooted in the joy of now, and the excitement of trying new ideas. It is endlessly creative, and affirming to both individuals and groups’ self worth, and it is the essence of amateur singing. It may be worth pointing out that the word “amateur” means “to love”. I propose that we consciously embrace this mode of being.

Thanks to Allison for this learning that I keep coming back to. BTW if any of you know Allison (she directs a women’s choir on one of the gulf islands) I would love to be reminded of her last name and have a chance to reconnect.

Have a wonderful musical day!


3 thoughts on “Judgmentalism vs Acceptance

  1. Gordon, Wow! I love your kind of thinking. What it takes to be successful is so delicate, but when understood, it becomes simple and powerful. There is so much empowerment in the simple act of witnessing and accepting that the other person is capable. I wrote a whole book around this idea. I am looking forward to hearing more of what is in your philosophy. Thank you for creating this blog. Linda Schaumleffel

  2. Hi Gord.

    I think you’re thinking of Alison Nixon, definitely one of my favourites as well.


    Nixon, Alison – Choral Society Director
    Alison was born and educated in Scotland. She came to Canada in 1986 as a violinist and liolist. In 1992 she undertook studies in conducting, and founded the Bowen Island Community Choir as well as the Nota Bene Choral Ensemble. She has directed the St. Andrew’s-Wesley Summer Choir since 1995. She undertook the direction of the Vancouver Orpheus Male Voice Choir for several years. Since the Fall of 2003, Alison has been the musical director of the North Shore Unitarian Church. She has directed the Douglas College Choral society since 1998. She lives on Bowen Island with her husband and three children

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