Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why Every Kid Should Join a Choir

Current Mood: Full from lunch (beans on toast is not daily fare around here for lunch)

Current Song: You Can Never Hold Back Spring by Tom Waits

A couple of weeks ago, I went with some friends, and Zoyo to see the Vancouver Chamber Choir as they prepare for their tour of Asia. Now most of you know, that I sing. And most of you even know that I've been in choirs since we pretty much came to Canada. For a long time, I was with VIMYC and we've had some fab opportunities to sing (including for a peace concert for the Dalai Lama!) Being in a cavernous church listening to a professional choir got me thinking about how much music teaches us about life. People usually exhalt the virtues of having your child join a sports team. I think it's equally valuable to have your child join a choir or an ensemble of some sort.

And no, we're not social outcasts. In fact, every choir I've ever been is is really good looking! Here's what I learned about life and relationships and work from singing with wonderful people.

Communication is key! Whether you're communicating with your conductor as he waves his or her arms around frantically or whether you have to listen to other parts to find where your cue is, communication is absolutely key to performing a piece well emotionally and musically. If you suddenly stop watching the conductor, the whole thing falls apart at the seams.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare! There are just too many times when groups or individuals don't come prepared, not having memorized or at the very least read through a piece. This holds everyone else back while we all have to wait for them to play catch up. If you don't want to be called out on it, you have to do your work ahead of time.

If you're going to make a mistake, make it good and loud! Want to screw up? May as well do it royally. It's the only way to learn from your mistakes (that is NOT an A sharp!). One of my conductors said that rather than hiding the fact that you haven't the foggiest about what's going on, ask and it shall be clarified. And finally, sing it wrong, so it can be fixed.

Back up your people. When you're in a choir, you work in a group. If one of yours has a solo, the rest have to sing their parts well, even if they are in the background. We all rely on each other to get things done.

No one part is more important than another. Whether it's sopranos trilling high notes or altos singing colour notes or basses hovering somewhere around the very depths of the bass clef, all parts are equally as important. When one drops out, you feel it. And you need all 4 or 5 or 6 parts to make the machine work.

Choir or orchestra or theatre is about forming relationships that rely on more than just one facet of communication. It's about reading cues, hearing the right moment to enter or exit and elevating relationships to a whole other level.

And this is why every kid should join a choir. And don't worry, they won't nerd out :)

Peace out people!


Sameer Vasta said...

Completely agree! Choir has led to some of the best experiences of my life — and I've made lifelong friends because of it. Thanks for sharing this.

Mehnaz said...

Thanks vasta! Totally some of the best years of my life too!
I hope you're enjoying Turkey :)

Zoyah said...


ps - SC4L
pps - here's to new singing adventures (hopefully, soon) *klinks gingerale glass*