I spent part of Saturday at the Three Rivers Choir Festival. Choirs from three high schools, the Youth Chorale of the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir, and the University Singers from IPFW spent the day together learning from a choir clinician. At the middle of the day, the University choir gave a concert. At the end of the day, the other four choirs gave a concert which had each group singing three pieces and then the combined choirs singing two. .
I used to be able to just watch. Now I think, too. Here are some notes from my program.
- If you are a singer, sing wherever you are. Several kids sang in two of the choirs. Hope sang in three of them. It means that some kids sing at school and with the Youth Chorale. Singing is what they do. It is a special identity and it is part of their daily life. I think of how compartmentalized some of us get. At church we do church. At work we do work. At home we do home. At bowling we do bowling. For these kids, at least some of them, they sing. Wherever they are.
- For singers, it doesn’t matter what you look like. Person A opens her mouth at an angle. Person B bobs her head way too much when she sings. Person C can’t move in rhythm at all. Person D can’t move at all. Person E’s face is alive when she sings. Person F looks asleep when he sings. And it doesn’t matter. Because it’s the sound: two hundred or thirty or eight voices blending and harmonizing and inflecting and attacking and sliding and whispering together. The point is the music. That’s all that matters.
- A choir is fine without soloists. Many of these kids would never make it as a soloist. And that’s great. Their voices work together to create the corporate sound. For some of them, singing together is the only way they ever would be on stage. The only way they get the spotlight is as part of a group. And that is wonderful. Because 30 soloists sounds annoying.
- Choirs are disciples. They work with a conductor who trains them, tests them, teaches them, moves them around, focuses on getting the choir, the group, the team, together to be better than any one could be alone, and than any one was before being part of the choir.
- A choir is rehearsal and performance. Both are necessary. Both have stress. Both have delight. Both build community. Both are community.
Clearly, there are lessons far beyond choirs. Feel free to spend part of your Sunday thinking about them.