With so much emphasis on team sports, boys often don’t seem to have time for team choir or interest for music, singing and other cultural activities.
Not so in some places though, where singing is definitely a “guy thing”. Wales, for example, is known for its rugby, but also for its male voice choirs! In Wales, sports is often synonymous with singing; rugby players are also known for their vocal prowess and not just songs in the pub after the game! Boys learn at an early age that singing is just something that men do.
Boys aged 9-13 are full of musical potential but most choir programs simply don’t have the knowledge or the staff to train and unlock the talent hidden in most every boy. And
research shows that boys who are given a choice between singing or sports, that at least 90% of boys will always go for sports because it is seen as more masculine.
Singing in a choir gives boys the same sense of challenge and achievement as membership on a sports team though . . . raising self-esteem, sense of team spirit, physical stamina and a challenge to do well. Boys don’t want to let each other down! Of course, there is no ‘second string’ either as all boys are ‘first string’ in a choir. No bench warmers allowed!
The benefits of boys choral singing also include learning to work as a team, but in a different way from sports. It demands self-discipline and respect for the director or “choral coach”. Choir becomes a big part of their social life too . . . they don’t just sing together one or two evenings a week, they also hang out together other times as well.
Then there is the thrill of performing in front of an audience . . . singing, combined “with” sports and other cultural activities helps boys grow into strong, disciplined and well-rounded young men.
The energy and focus required for singing can be likened to what is required to dribble a basketball to the opposite end of the court and score a basket, to run the 100-yard dash or swim in a medley relay. Energy is required to perform!
There is a need for boys to have something in common at which they can all excel in addition to the usual avenues of sports. Especially at their age, and given our society’s tendency to rush them into manhood, it is healthy for them to do something together that is communicative and sensitive, and of which they can be proud. For a young maturing boy to do his job and know that it has been done to the best of his ability, gives an immeasurable sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. They learn to see that successes become reality through hard work, patience and practice. They further learn that the pursuit of excellence really can be a worthwhile endeavor. An all boy choir is a great way to bring some balance and power into a boy’s life and for him to give back something wonderful to himself and even complete strangers!
I believe that boys singing in a choir should not be instead of sports, but it should all be part of the whole thing in his growing up . . . so that the boy becomes multidimensional.
Like on a great sports team, being in a choir is about building a community which draws members in and becomes inclusive and not exclusive!
And I always remind the boys that boys don’t sing like girls, rather, girls sing like boys!