Most of the world’s choirs are amateur, which stems from the Latin word, “amare” or love. These people and children don’t get paid . . . they just love to sing!
Having taught exclusively boys for the past thirty-five years, I decided to ask them all to respond anonymously to the statement: “Choir is ________.”
The written comments were varied and there was some overlap, but at the core, is a philosophical question: What is the meaning of an all boys choir to boys in grades three – eight?
Representation was broad, stemming from boys affluent to not so, all races and creeds and length of time actually in our choirs.
I decided to group the main themes that emerged in no particular order and they were as follows:
- Expression and awareness
- Togetherness and unification
- Inspiration and transformation
- Enjoyment and relaxation
- Friendship and fun
- Learning and understanding
- Hard work and reward
After the compilation was complete, I decided to talk with my oldest choir of thirty-two boys, the Tour Choir about how they felt about the survey and I was able to categorize their thoughts and comments into the following groupings, this time in order of significance among the boys:
- Embrace life’s joys – the REAL beauty of life is in each moment . . . linger and enjoy.
- Commit to your goals – most people fail reaching their dreams from a lack of commitment . . . not a lack of ability.
- Cultivate optimism – stay positive and when things get ‘dark’ . . . look for the stars.
- Nurture your friendships – create deep and meaningful relationships . . . then watch them grow.
- Increase your experiences – do what you love . . . as much and often as you can.
- Express gratitude – never let the things you WANT . . . make you forget about the things you HAVE.
Here is a sampling of some of the actual comments made by the boys with no corrections, again in no particular order of significance – Choir is:
- A life changing experience that is one of the best parts of my week where I hang out with my friends and sing.
- A place I can be myself and take off my ‘mask’.
- The thing that brings you up when bad days come.
- Where nobody is better than another.
- A habit for me now . . . I get my times of pure joy twice a week and I love it.
- A sanctuary; a home away from home. A place of friendship, happiness and most importantly, music.
- A place where nobody laughs at me when I make a mistake . . . it is my ‘safe’ place.
- My life . . . it has helped me get through some pretty rough stuff and overcome some big problems in my life.
- One of the most important and fun things in my life right now . . . if I could not come to choir, my life would not be the same.
- Not just a place we get to sing . . . it is an amazing experience where we get to make true friends, make a difference in this world and of course have fun!
- An experience of a lifetime.
I had to keep reminding myself that these were just regular and ordinary boys who possessed extraordinary judgement and talent!