The Baltimore Children's Choir returned just last week from our annual Summer Tour! We spent five days on the road, in Princeton, New York City, and Newark, Delaware. Each part of the tour was a wonderful experience. We saw a Broadway show, a Carnegie Hall performance, and we grew as individuals and as a group!
Concert at Trinity Episcopal Church in Princeton, New Jersey, where we had an intimate and very appreciative audience.
WHY SHOULD WE MAKE TOURING A YEARLY PRIORITY?
All the best choral programs tour. But why? Simply because they can?
Typical reasons to tour:
attracting new students
maintaining interest of enrolled students
Typical Reasons not to tour:
It is expensive for the group and the students - especially in a subsidized program like BCC
We repeat repertoire that we have sung already
Our audience impact is not always great.
So, aside from the obvious fun, attracting new students, maintaining enrollment of present students -here are some reasons why touring needs to be a yearly priority at Baltimore Children's Choir:
REASON NUMBER 1: TOURS STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS
By allowing for moments of self-discovery, compromise, collaboration on a large scale, singers and conductors strengthen their relationships. Throughout the year, our singers come to rehearsal, rehearse, interact a bit, leave and repeat the following week. while we encourage camaraderie with games and moments of sharing, it is not equivalent to spending 5 days with 20 plus others, getting to know them, adjusting to their organizational styles, and simply having time to chat throughout each day outside of rehearsals and performances. With four students sharing a room, we expect the first night to be a bit awkward, and the last night is always a bit sad. Lifetime friendships are often formed in these few days.
Hattie, Adaugo, and Louisa at the Bryant Park Carousel
REASON NUMBER 2: TOURS STRENGTHEN RESILIENCE
Any tour is filled with a myriad of unexpected circumstances, and then there is a shared understanding of those “unexpected” moments for years to come. The little things become big memories. The “inside” stories that may have seemed unpleasant at the time are brought forth at reunions, followed by laughter and wistful smiles.
REASON NUMBER 3: TOURS ENGAGE EMPATHY
Tours are good for humanity, as they connect folks in the most unusual ways and lay the groundwork for a greater understanding of differences. Everyone is a bit out of their comfort zone on a tour. And we are continually challenged in a positive way, which allows us to strengthen our empathic muscles. The additional downtime allows for deeper conversations and self-discovery.
REASON NUMBER 4: TOURS STRENGTHEN THE MUSICAL ENSEMBLE
Trinity Episcopal - Day 1
St. Patrick's Cathedral - Day 3
St. Paul's Lutheran - Day 4
Interestingly, while the student goals for the tour are more experiential than musical, the outcome is a more cohesive group, deepened relationships and greater understanding among the choristers, among the leadership - and also between students and leaders. This builds trust, and when folks trust, they feel safe. When they feel safe, they learn and perform better.
REASON NUMBER 5: TOURS HELP US GROW AS CONDUCTORS, CHAPERONES, AND COMPASSIONATE PEOPLE
Chaperones on the 4th Day - Still smiling!
As conductors, we get to know our fellow staff members, chaperones, and singers better. In addition, we learn to let the unexpected "surprises" roll off our backs a bit more. We are able to trust our singers better, and as a result, our gesture becomes more relaxed, our breathing more intentional, and the sound changes for the better. Even more important, by getting to know one another as people - rather than teachers, parents, and chaperones, we develop deeper relationships of trust and care. We learn more about the students, and we are able to grow as individuals.
Beginning of the Tour - Day 1 in Princeton Junction!
In a community choir such as Baltimore Children’s Choir. there is opportunity for positive growth each year because a core of leaders and chaperones remain while students and often their siblings grow with the program from age 5 - 18. This allows for students and leaders to foment strong and stable traditions, mold relationships, and connect with greater depth after each tour. When they bring those special memories back into rehearsal the following year, the group is changed for the better, and the growth is palpable.
The benefits to the ensemble manifest themselves through improved stamina, more focused listening, and other enhanced skills, but the greatest gifts from these tours cannot be measured. They are priceless.
Our fearless leaders stealing a little time alone!