Shaw had an obsession: he wanted every last rhythm to be perfectly precise, and we had been working more on notes, choral sound and the musical line than on perfect rhythmic precision.
He had a solution to that: he threw out everything we'd been working on and had us count all the rhythms, and sing them with numbers, mostly staccato, for the next several days.
He got more precise rhythms, all right, but at rather substantial cost. Most of the choristers were ready to kill him; I certainly was. The beautiful work that was emerging from the first, relatively chaotic rehearsal got lost under the precise rhythms. Our voices were starting to shred, too, from all the staccatto singing.
How do you tell the difference between a violinist and a dog?
The dog knows when to stop scratching.
A conductor and a violist are standing in the middle of the road. which one do you run over first, and why?
The conductor. Business before pleasure.
:: Scott Spiegelberg has some thoughts on perfect pitch. I never had perfect pitch, but I generally had a good ear. (Well, until it came to jazz improv. When it came to that, I was about as effective in the aural sense as Helen Keller.)