Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Pulling kids out of their comfort zones

Well, as my crazy schedule winds down I'm looking at the last two weeks of frantic pacing....I think I shall survive! I just got back from a weekend in NYC with a choral high school group that I occassionally accompany; the director asked me to go along and I said yes....and perhaps it was a good thing in that I am now convinced without doubt that this is my last semester for extra accompanying jobs!

Back to my post, however! Yesterday I had a rehearsal with my OWN chorus of homeschoolers who have their annual concert next Monday. I started last year with five and this year have TEN to work with, and they have done a great job. I just love taking kids with varying degrees of musical talent and watching them grow into a team. They have a lovely sound and I'm really proud of all they've accomplished this year. One girl, in particular, is in my thoughts this week. She joined chorus and sat so quietly each week that I can hardly hear her sing. When we had auditions for solos, I noticed that the only two she tried out for were the two longest, and I was really surprised. Although I try to make sure that all who WANT a solo can at least get a small one to practice singing in front of others, I also don't ever want to embarass anyone who shouldn't be singing solo.

The day of auditions she was so nervous that she couldn't go on her turn; I told her to stand up when she was ready. WELL, aside from the fact that she was nervous and a little quiet, she had a GORGEOUS voice! Young and undeveloped, but just lovely...and the tone was exactly what I was looking for in one of the solos. In the end, I decided that she would have it, and she's done fine all semester practicing. However, this past week I got an email from her and she was so nervous she wasn't sure she could do it, and wanted advice.

Now, there is a fine line that any director/coach/leader must walk in making these kinds of decisions. Most kids live in their little "comfort zones", and any time they come out to do something special can either help them to grow or make them go back in to the zone with a thicker wall around them. I really would hate the latter to happen for her, but I explained to the group that it's a risk that you just don't about ahead of time. The only sure thing is that you'll never grow and become a better person if you let self doubt and fear keep you there in the comfort zone.

Yesterday I let her sing with another girl who was told she may be singing along with her, and then I gave the little comfort zone/risk talk to the group and had her do it twice alone. I asked her if she trusted ME, and she said yes, so I urged her to consider the solo alone and just trust me to get her through it. I was thrilled at the end of the day when she came to me and said she was going to do it. Moreso, I was thrilled to see the level of support that the group gave her in all of it. This was the "coveted" solo, and here they all were telling her that she could definitely do it! No diva attitudes that I saw in NY all weekend...just fellow ensemble members that understand the fear/risk/comfort zone place.

I was proud to call these girls my chorus yesterday!

1 comment:

Mother Crone's Homeschool said...

That is such a success story. I heard it from another chorus member's perspective (since she road home with me;) You are totally correct about the wonderful attitude these girls have toward each other. There was nothing but praise and support echoing, and as a Mom, it is a wonderful thing to hear when the world around us are filled with messages of "me first."
Can't wait for the concert!