One of the worst lessons to learn is to be chosen ‘last’ for team competition. For years, I simply expected to be that one. I could never understand until it was pointed out that I was considered somewhat a loser because I ‘sang’. Regardless of how well I played the game, that stigma stuck until I was in high school. (I got even in the boxing ring) When I began teaching in Bryan, I found many choir members who thought they were something special and a cut above simply because they could sing well enough to be chosen. It had been the tradition to have ‘auditions’ for membership in the A Cappella Choir, but some things happened to make me pause and consider a change. Elitism is a dangerous thing. It’s like a Caste System in the classroom. I discovered students were in the choir because it made them ‘special’. As the years went by, I changed some ‘traditions’ and made some unpopular decisions. I discovered that membership in my choirs totally changed the behavior of some young men. I discovered that if one could ‘match a pitch’, they could be taught to ‘blend’ and become ‘Ensemble’. I put much more pressure on the musically gifted and encouraged all to give their very best. I am fairly certain that those who blessed me as a teacher, will agree with just how ‘outstanding’ our choirs really were. I recall “Ma and Paw Kettle” movies with Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride as he sat on the ramshackled porch overlooking the most junk anyone could place in a front yard, saying, “Carved this out of a wilderness”. My students were certainly not wilderness, but as all choral directors will agree, from silence we were instrumental in creating beautiful sounds with capable students who tried their best to reach a higher mark on the wall of life. The young men and women of SFA may not have been the most everything, but I wouldn’t trade them for any that were. That’s what I get from my Box of Chocolates, donchaknow.

2 thoughts on “Exclusion

  1. I never knew you auditioned kids for the A Capella Choir at SFA! I know I had to audition for the Sweet Sixteens, and made that group. But I have known the pain of exclusion recently when after being a member of the Dallas Symphony Chorus for 18 years, I was not invited to return after a re-audition (which we had to do every year) by our new director. Luckily, I still had a great many people who complimented me on my singing in other venues, but it still stung. I did audition for another chorus and am now happily still singing choral music.

    But I do thank you for changing your policy and stopping the A Capella Choir auditions. I think more kids probably developed a love of music and singing because they were able to participate.


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