Should the Aspiring Pop or Musical Theater Singer do High School Singer do High School Choir?
by Randy Buescher
Tales from the front…
A High School choir director enters the room and asks the students, “How many of you like Country music? How many of you like musical theater? How many of you like pop, etc.?” Of course of lot of the singers raise their hands. He then goes on to eviscerate them on their choices.
A High School student who was trained with one of the hand picked voice teachers by the choir director decides to switch course and study with a more commercial teacher who affects a profound change in her voice. Upon hearing it, the choir director decides to rescind an invitation to perform at the senior recital.
A High School choir director brings in a commercial voice teacher to teach his students. They dominate the leads in the musicals and go on to major musical theater programs and to leads in Broadway shows and touring companies.
What do they all have in common? Nothing and everything.
A High School choir director has a lot of influence over young singers. Sometimes it is good, sometimes not.
In the case of the aspiring non-classical singer with an erudite, and frankly snobbish conductor it is negative. In the case of an open-minded pragmatic director it is positive.
Young singers that encounter a High School director, who frankly has a stick up their butt, will be confused, and not encouraged. Repeatedly hearing messages about how what they like and how they want to sing creates self-doubt, vocal identity crisis, and disserves the student.
Young singers that encounter a more open minded, progressive choir director would become more adaptable to the demands of a fluid vocal world. They will succeed and reflect positively on the choir director. That director did not present a roadblock but a bridge to success because it was pragmatic and empowering.
With being said, why does the first type of choir director still exist? Frankly, it’s psychological. They are Barney Fife, ruling over their kingdom and shaming students into thinking that anything that they disagree with is almost morally wrong. There is a guilt associated with it. The second type is empowering. I will help the student achieve what their goals are and I will be open minded and pragmatic enough to use the means available to do that. Their success is a reflection on what I could do to help them.
The bottom line on this is for the singer, and the parent of the singer, to make accurate assessments of the particular director and see if what they advocate and direct are concurrent with the student’s goals. If they are, then by all means go with the program. If not, run far away. There are other avenues to achieve your success.