“I’ve decided to be happy,
I’ve decided to be glad,
I’ve decided to be grateful,
For all I ever had.
I’ve decided to let go
Of all this pain tonight.
I’ve decided to let go
Of all these demons inside.
I’ve decided to be open
To that little voice inside
Telling me I’m beautiful
It’s okay to be alive.
I’ve decided to be kinder
To myself when I am sad.
I’ve decided to be grateful
For all I ever had.
I know I am blessed
I know all I ever wanted was this
I know I don’t need more
I’ve got what I came for”
The words to the song Kinder are so on target that it’s become “our” song. This characterizes not only our final concert, but the incredible first full season that lead up to it.
With a mission of revolutionizing and inspiring singing excellence through singing, socializing, and serving, I’ve taken some time to reflect back over the past season, evaluating pictures, video clips and examining memories. As the Founder and Artistic Director, I had clearly articulated goals at the beginning of the year, and this reflection helped me realize that we’ve exceeded everything on my initial plan.
Today’s blog is all about what those goals are and how we were able to accomplish them; it will break down this season’s accomplishments based on our motto Sing, Socialize, Serve.
It’s helpful to get down on paper why we do things, which also helps our team as we make plans for the 2017/2018 season. Next year, we will look back on these thoughts as we craft the next year’s of goals, dreams, and expectations.
Music, Technique & Genre:
As stated in our mission, through singing excellence and music literacy, we foster deeper relationships and inspire personal growth, and give back to our communities through meaningful service. Music is what brings us together and is the focal point of rehearsals and planning.
We’ve all experienced being in charge of the radio on a long car ride – it can be a tough job! You don’t want to spend your time flipping around stations, but you also don’t want to land on a station that only one person in the car likes.
Repertoire selection is just like that. There are so many wonderful choices out there and when our singers are open and excited about all the different styles, genres, and sounds, it doesn’t help narrow down the selection.
However, as Artistic Director, I recognize that there is a purpose behind each selection. In the big picture, we want our concerts to be entertaining — specifically, we want our audiences to walk away with their heart, mind, and soul all touched and leave feeling uplifted and inspired.
To accomplish this, we need to make sure we have variety of music — secular and sacred, happy and sad, fast and slow — to accomplish this.. We must also make sure that each song presents an opportunity for growth and skill development of the singers.
This season we selected repertoire from the Renaissance through today. We particularly want to thank Katy Perry for writing a song called Rise, we know she meant it just for us! For each piece we performed, I identified and taught based on three concepts
- A vocal technique/skill
- breath control or vowel placement
- A musical skill
- a vocabulary word or historical fact
- Something that would connect to us socially and emotionally
- this usually relates to the words, but sometimes the story of the composer or the concept behind the song creation
While people often wax poetic about their past, I’ve never heard anyone say they want to go back to middle school. And, while others might dream about going back to their high school days, they may not be remembering the crushing stress of so much riding on your daily decisions for your future, and when something as simple as sitting at the wrong lunch table can be a monumental disaster.
This was always a factor in my weekly rehearsal planning. These young ladies had navigated another day at school – they may come to rehearsal stressed, sad, happy, overwhelmed, hyper – you never knew. The key was providing an environment where those things could be left at the door and the heart could be mended, encouraged, and filled for another week through the power of music and intentional social interactions.
Because we sing, socialize and serve, we also encourage social goals in our rehearsals, at retreat, and while on tour. These include confidence, clear speaking, individuality, professionalism, appropriate dress, and yes, lipstick.
This all came together on this season’s choir tour. The older girls offered to help our younger girls with hair and makeup to prepare for our spring headshots by Dan Biggerstaff.
When the younger girls were ready, they looked like models! They were beaming, radiating joy and happiness. It was such a special moment to see those older ladies passing along their hair and make-up expertise with our younger ladies – while sharing stories, laughter, snacks, and fellowship.
Getting Outside The Bubble
Thinking outside the bubble of one’s self is such a challenge, especially for young adults when middle and high school can be consumed with comparing to others and changing to fit an imaginary mold of what it is to be “cool”.
We use service projects to experience what it is like to think about others and take a moment to step back and realize the world around us. I have two special memories to share.
The first was looking out into the audience at the Savannah Friends of Music Party a la Carte and seeing the tears on the faces of all different generations as we performed. I can assure you they were tears of joy!
These people were brought together because of music, and the funds raised would immediately be poured back into our community to ensure the continuation of beautiful music for moments such as these in the future.
The next favorite moment this season was having a few of our singers get up in front of a 1,200 runners at a local race and perform the National Anthem. I was unable to conduct because I was in the crush at the start line, but they conducted themselves and sang with a gorgeous, free sound. The best part was hearing the comments of the runners around me when the girls finished about how wonderful they sounded and how confident they looked.
Looking forward, the future is bright. In addition to staying true to sing, socialize and serve, we have plans for intentional growth that will ensure the group voice lesson feel of our rehearsals as well as the individualized attention so each young lady is celebrated for who she is.
As a result, we will be able to fulfill our vision: through singing together, our vision is to build knowledgeable, innovative, and strong future leaders in our communities. We provide a place for young singers to develop and enhance their musical talent and establish and nurture relationships. Our singers connect and transfer the skills developed through RISE into the broader community throughout their life.