I went rafting with the youth group from my church. It was fun. The other chaperone in my boat was a member of my church choir, and we had fun discussions comparing the skills of rafting to the skills of choral singing: staying together, following instructions attentively, etc. I’d gladly take my choirs rafting if I could.
They took pictures, so you can see it and the edited faces of my shipmates.
I fell in. I’m fine. All is well. But the pictures are sort of entertaining.
And I was rescued by the safety boat (another boat waiting past the rapids for just this purpose)–not, in the end, by this tiny yet heroic child, but by the safety boat’s guide, who rushed over a load of teenagers just seconds later, and hauled 200 pounds of Amelia and river water by the shoulder straps into the boat. Still, the picture captures the drama. The guide’s name was Pat, and if I ever get a goldfish, I’m going to name it after him. The child is a very gifted musician, BTW.
Later, during a less challenging stretch of river, there was some conversation about the feelings surrounding falling out of a boat. (It’s a church youth group; there’s conversation about feelings.) The major thing for me was the physical reaction of adrenaline that caused me to shake for about half an hour afterwards and gave me special relish for the water fight that took place about an hour later.
But a teenager in my boat suggested she would feel embarrassed to fall in, because it would suggest she had done something wrong. To this, our guide immediately responded, “it’s never your fault if you fall in. It’s my fault.” He explained further that it’s his job to keep the boat in places that don’t put passengers at risk, so that even if they do something “wrong,” they still don’t end up in the river. Then he continued, “even if you do something you shouldn’t, that’s still my fault.”
And I admired the attitude. It’s the same as mine in regard to my ensemble members. It’s a lesson I learned verbatim in undergrad training from Paul Head: it’s always your fault. No matter what happens in rehearsal or performance, the conductor is responsible. Maybe the singers are underprepared, but that’s my fault. Maybe they don’t follow, but that’s my fault.
I’ve never heard any other leader say it out loud. It made me enjoy the trip even more.