Like many singers, choir has been an important part of my life since I could walk and talk. My earliest choral experiences were at church in a “Cherub Choir” made up of preschoolers for the holiday concert. (Kudos to those of you corralling preschoolers to stand in one area and do anything!) Throughout my education, I was involved in several choirs at church and school, and even ended up working with choirs as music educator at the beginning of my career. A few things are always true about choirs: they bond people together.
For the past six years, the Mansfield Symphony Chorus has partnered with several high school choirs to create a magical concert we’ve called “Sing Out! A Choral Celebration.” This event has a synergy that’s palpable, with so many voices coming together in harmony to fill our theatre with beautiful singing. Young and old, experienced and novice, side by side singing together. It’s nothing short of magical.
The singers in these choirs and the people that lead them know that singing together truly evokes an experience unlike any other. It also teaches you some very important truths about yourself and others. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned from singing in choirs:
Every Voice Matters
It is truly remarkable how necessary each voice can be to a choir. The timbre of the chorus is impacted when a new voice comes or someone leaves, but so is the culture of the group. Anyone who has been in an ensemble can attest to certain voices that made the time together in rehearsals and performance special in one way or another. Each person brings something to the table when you sing in chorus.
Listen to the People Around You
It’s easy to tell a novice choral singer from an experienced one: the novice will sing without listening, but the experienced singer has learned to listen to those around them to match tone, vowel shapes, and timbre to create a seamless blend of voices. A beautiful choral sound comes from compromise: adjusting your own individual voice to match those around you, which can only happen if you listen.
Power Comes from Unity
There’s a piece being performed on our upcoming Sing Out! concert called “The Awakening,” by Joseph Martin. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and if you’ve heard it you’ll probably agree. There’s this really incredible moment when the chorus goes from singing multiple lines and parts to a powerful unison, singing “Awake, awake my soul and sing!” When performed well, you can’t help but have goosebumps from the intensity and the heart behind it. Voices in unison speaking the same message has power unlike much else.