Making Music, Musings, Teaching , ,

Choir wisdom

This recent photo of me, now featured on my personal Facebook profile, says a lot: I’m about to embark on an overnight choir retreat in the San Bernardino mountains with 35 high school students. I’m already tired. It’s 2pm – the very worst time to leave due to rush-hour traffic. What should’ve been a 2-hour drive lasts for 4 hours. I’m uncomfortable, as this bus was obviously designed for elementary-aged kids, not grown folks. The bus is noisy. The two young men who end up sitting next to me manage to talk excitedly for the whole four-hour ride about gaming, coding, and computer science stuff. Aren’t their mouths dry? But it’s good that they are bonding, I guess.

I love my job. I love these kids. I know this retreat is worth it. But in this moment, I am just trying to get by. 

In the end, the retreat was a great success. My students were delightful, warm-hearted, and perfectly nerdy! They inspired me by sharing a few fun “choir truisms” with me during our trip. In honor of my students, here are a few personal favorites I’ve collected over the years from various books, journals, choir bulletin boards, conference handouts, and websites like, Pinterest, and

I truly thought I was going to be in pop music. And then I joined a choir to meet girls, and everything changed in the first rehearsal.
– Eric Whitacre
Group singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and certainly more fun than working out. It is the one thing in life where feeling better is pretty much guaranteed.
– “Singing Changes Your Brain“,, Aug 16, 2013
Then the singing enveloped me. It was furry and resonant, coming from everyone’s heart. There was no sense of performance or judgement, only that the music was breath and food.
– Anne Lamott
Music will save the world.
– Pablo Casals
The most important thing in the world is choral music.
– Dale Warland
I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing.
– William James
Music is exciting. It is thrilling to be with a group of people creating the same piece of music. You are part of a great, powerful, vibrant entity. Music is important. It says things your heart can’t say any other way, and in a language everyone speaks.
– Dan Rather
God sent his Singers upon earth
With songs of sadness and of mirth
That they might touch the hearts of men
And bring them back to heaven again.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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