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Choir Ninja, with Ryan Guth

Dec 15, 2017

In December especially, choral directors spend their days focused on serving others so much that they often neglect their own needs. Here are some ways to stay charged in the coming weeks until Christmas! You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. You have so many in your choirs who depend on your gifts to get them through this often very difficult season. You have the potential to help heal the pain of loss or loneliness that some people feel at this time. It make take extra energy, compassion, and patience in order to serve the members of your choir in a time when energy, compassion, and patience are in short supply.

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Highlight to Tweet: “Pee clear, pee often.” - Amanda Simon

Show Notes:

  • This is a long, but incredibly rewarding season. Remember to keep these items in mind to maximize the rewards of your work and stay present with those who need you! Keep in mind: You’re a servant and a leader year-round and especially in December!
  • Wake up with a sense of duty and be grateful!
    You get to do what you love, and get paid for it.
    You will make audience members’ days/months/years with your musical offerings.
    You’ll touch people that you’ll never meet and in ways that you’ll never know.
    You’re giving families a reason to get together and celebrate with each other for potentially the only time in a year.
  • Your duty IS your escape from December.
    If you do it well, you won’t need an escape, because your soul will be fed by what you do.
  • Thank your family for supporting you/putting up with you by…
    smiling (sometimes you fake it till you make it so your brain believes your happy – See distress tolerance techniques).
    showing more affection to your loved ones/significant other.
    hugging your kids and reading them bedtime stories every night you can.
    reschedule dinner at a new common time with your loved ones so that you don’t miss that very essential part of your life.
  • Follow these nutrition guidelines to stay on top of your game
    Avoid fast food. If necessary, choose healthy options.
    Eat a big breakfast
    Eggs scramble (loaded with avocado and veggies like spinach, peppers, tomatoes)
    Cook in healthy oils such as coconut oil or avocado oil
    Smoothie (banana, peanut butter, almond milk, with optional protein powder)
  • Stay prepared
    Pack your meals (lunch or dinner) if you won’t be home to make them
    Carry snacks with you, so you don’t end at in the vending machine
    Protein bar (like Quest or Luna bars) with less than 10g of sugar
    Mixed nuts (packs like Trader Joe’s)
    Apples for appetite suppression
    “Batch prepare” your meals
  • Stay hydrated (pee clear and often)
    It’ll keep you full
    Heightens energy
    Keeps the voice working
    Minimizes the chance of stress headaches
    Aids in proper digestion
    Releases toxins
  • Remember, it’s okay to say no…
    to requests that may derail your momentum
    to substances that may slow you down
    feeling guilty when you’re not working
  • Don’t give up on exercise
    If you don’t have a regular routine, you can look up 15 minute exercises on YouTube to do naked in your bedroom before school.
  • Get sleep
    7-8 hours/per night – especially before performances
    Your DVR is your best friend
    You can catch up on your shows during the Christmas break
    Sleep in a dark room
    Lavender on the pillow
    Use meditations like these to fall asleep
  • In the case of a meltdown
    Go back to gratitude.
    Close your eyes and do this meditation. (Warning: Bad Language)
    Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 2, breathe out for 6.
    Do a grounding exercise
    5 things you see
    4 things your hear
    3 things you feel
    2 things you smell
    1 thing you taste


Having spent most of his middle and high school career in detention, Ryan Guth loves to speak to audiences about ways for choral directors to engage the seemingly un-engageable.

Ryan learned fearlessness and indomitable spirit from a young age through many years studying the martial arts while also pursuing music – especially the time in middle school when he tried to break a board with his head in front his entire ninth grade class and failed spectacularly.

He believes the best choir directors face challenges head-on (no pun intended), are solutions-oriented, and take full responsibility forall aspects of their program.  Ryan’s most popular and surprisingly positive article “Your Choir Sucks Because You Suck” was shared over 2,200 times in 48 hours, and has since become his manifesto, mantra, and the platform that his work was built upon.

Through his first podcast, Find Your Forte, Ryan connected thousands of weekly listeners with some of the most brilliant minds in choral music such as Helmuth Rilling, Patrick Quigley, Joseph Flummerfelt, James Bass, and 80-plus others. He recognizes the fact we become the best when we learn from the best.

Ryan Guth recently created the Choir Ninja podcast to share solutions with middle and high school choral directors so they learn to work smarter – not harder. That’s why he focuses on sharing what works in choral programs across Choir Nation in a way that makes running a great choral program approachable, fun, and rewarding.

When not dressing up in his ninja jammies or buffing his diploma from Westminster Choir College, Ryan is a financial advisor in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Before that, he spent a decade building a large middle school program and six-figure-choral-ensemble-based-for-profit-business in central New Jersey. He is also the founder and sole member of the Hyphenation Club of America.

Ryan enjoys getting lost outdoors with his beautiful fiancé, Amanda, and pitbull-lab Sasha. He also dislikes socks and only wears them when absolutely necessary. This bio was sponsored by Gold Bond Powder.

Resources/links Mentioned:

Sponsored by:

Sight Reading Factory (Use promo code “NINJA” at checkout for 10 free student accounts!)



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