I wouldn’t take for granted that talking is a lack of respect for the others, that will necessarily make people uncomfortable. As much as I will still promote silence. But I won’t enforce it out of fear or ridiculing people publicly because that is a killer for creativity and wellness.
Let’s take an example. We sometimes take for granted the need of silence in order to learn a song. We love African songs. Songs from Southafrica, also from Tanzania. I do have some lovely songs from a great selection that professor Polo Vallejo has been compiling for more than twenty years and published in different formats.
It is perhaps a cultural thing to think we must all be in total silence for 2 hours in a classroom? I believe it comes with the personality and it also comes with cultural ways of understanding the limit of what is “disturbing”.
I believe that it’s more about concentrating in the positive side: promote silence instead of enforce non-talking. Encourage singers to enjoy some moments in silence, rather than tell people to stop making noises
How can I put that in practice as a choir leader?
I have listed a few tips here. Maybe you can add more of your own.
Finally, it comes to my mind a great anecdote about composer, teacher and musicologist Polo Vallejo. When he met for the first time the Wagogo people (a group form central Tanzania), he explained to them that he was a music teacher.
«Polo Vallejo Patrimonio musical de los wagogo de Tanzania: contexto y sistemática (Patrimoine musical des Wagogo de Tanzanie: contexte et systématique)», Cahiers d’ethnomusicologie, 18/|2005
© Maria Soriano, 2014