This past weekend I had the opportunity to take 14 of my high school students to the Region C Honors Choir tryouts for MSVMA (Michigan State Vocal Music Association). They are required to sing (from memory) a medieval, a cappella piece and sight read an 8-measure intermediate exercise after studying it for 30-60 seconds without instructor support. I am always impressed by any student who can do this! For the last 4 years our number of students who audition and are selected has grown from 1 (the first year) to 5 (last year). They are incredible students and people.
We had to drive to Dundee, MI which is about 90 minutes one-way from our school. Some of the students drove with us and others drove themselves. One of our cars of students stopped to pick up a student from a neighboring district who needed a ride. Just a side-note: there are about 350 students who audition for no more than 150 slots. Our students picked up someone who could have potentially taken their spot. He needed a ride and they didn’t think twice about it.
We took 14 students to the audition from all voice parts. This was helpful for the students because they were able to warm up together and in a choir setting. The piece that they had to audition with is just easier to rehearse that way. One student arrived at the warmup room a few minutes early and was told he could enter. The remaining students entered the room, got themselves organized and began singing. Just as they started the warmup chair knocked on the door and told us that another student (who had arrived late) was supposed to be warming up. We quietly left the room and let the student complete his warmup time. The student had the door closed for about 8 seconds when he opened it up again and asked “Actually, would you mind warming up with me?” His instructor had not accompanied him to the audition and he had no one with him. Our students jumped at the chance to help this student out and made him feel very comfortable at the same time. All of the students entered the room, warmed up together and sang for each other.
These students continually amaze me. My co-director and myself have worked to explain to the students that being a part of a group, especially a musical group, is being a part of something that is bigger than them. It is so important for these students to realize that there is more to life than “me.” This weekend they not only showed us that they were listening to what we were teaching them, but that they understood and demonstrated it.
Out of the 14 students who auditioned, 12 of them made it. I am so proud of each and every one of them I cannot even stand it, but more importantly, I am proud of who they are becoming as people. We will now get the chance to take 12 of them to the Regional Honors choir (where they will perform and audition for the State choir) and give them the chance to shine as musicians and as people. I love my job.