constructive and affirming energy to flow through your room once the activity is completed. I call this activity Affirmations. I end my fall retreat with this activity and then from time to time, I will end a rehearsal with this activity. On retreat, I allow 45 minutes for affirmations. When I use affirmations at the end of rehearsal, I allow the singers to use one or two word affirmations. Sometimes the singers will request to end a rehearsal with affirmations.
As we end of our retreat, I ask the singers to sit in a circle. Don’t allow singers to lie on the floor. I explain that we now come to a time as we end of our time together where we affirm the positive activities and people who touched our lives over the course of our retreat. I further explain that we will take 5 minutes at the beginning of this activity to sit quietly and recall in our minds which singers surprised us the most, which singers or groups worked hardest, what singers had positive attitudes and what each of us looks forward to as we sing together this year. Using those thoughts as guidelines for a statement, singers can, one at a time, verbalize an affirmation for a group or person.
As preparation for this activity, I have already talked with my seniors before the retreat begins to make sure every singer is affirmed during the activity. I am guaranteed this will happen by having each senior pick whom he or she’d like to affirm until every member of the choir is spoken for. If, during the activity, another singer affirms a person a senior has selected, then that senior does not need to affirm his or her chosen singer BUT certainly can affirm if they wish. During the retreat, I’ve also put the singers into family groups and given them choir brother/sisters. After the initial large group fun activities, many of the endeavors during the retreat are completed within small groups. So many of the affirmations can and should be built around the choir families.
To set the tone, I am usually the first person to verbalize an affirmation with something like, “I’d like to affirm the alto section. They worked hard today, are so talented and already sound great.” The singers can affirm one person and/or a group. An individual singer affirmation may sound like this; “I’d like to affirm my choir brother Tom. He is a great singer and a wonderful leader. I liked getting to know him better.” After each affirmation, all singers respond with “snaps” alternately snapping fingers. I also indicate that each singer is allowed to affirm up to 3 times. It takes care of the same singer wanting to voice many affirmations.
Affirmations came about when, over 20 years ago, I brought a church youth director to my retreat with me. I watched him do his magic and continued to organize this activity every year going forward. Thank you Lance!