Kids say (and sing) the darndest things

Posted on August 25, 2010

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I wish that all of you could be flies on the wall during Colorado Children’s Chorale auditions. Not only would you get to hear some angelic young voices and meet some incredible 7, 8 and 9 year-olds, but you’d also occasionally get the bonus of some high comedy- intentional and unintentional.

If you took the humorous highlights from the 200+ auditions we sit through each year, you could easily fill out one of those AFV funny video montages with funny music in the background. In fact, I’m calling Tom Bergeron tomorrow to work out a deal.

Each audition takes about 7-ish minutes. For the musical part, we do some vocal warm-ups, check some skills, and ask each kid to sing the first verse of either “America the Beautiful” or “America/My Country ‘Tis of Thee” (they know to come ready with one of those). But because personality is such an important part of what we do in “Chorale” as we call it, we also like to talk to them quite a bit before they sing. And when you give kids permission to dish about their summers, their schools or their siblings, well…let’s just say you can learn some pretty interesting stuff. Stuff like:

-how to lose a tooth when it’s really loose (you just bite your cousin while you’re playing on the trampoline).

-what it’s like to have an Ironman cake for your birthday

-what makes teachers mean or nice (usually has to do with how much homework they assign, but occasionally with how much candy they give out)

-what’s it’s like to visit the wonderful state of San Diego on vacation

-how awesome Taylor Swift is

-how REALLY awesome Taylor Swift is

I don’t know about you, but now that I know that Taylor Swift is awesome,  I can finally die happy.

We also hear some interesting interpretations of the words to some of our nation’s patriotic songs. My favorites from this past year were “sweet land of liverty,” “sweet land of lizardy,” “O beautiful for spaceship skies,” and of course, “America, America, God says His grace on Thee!”

You just can’t make this stuff up.

What I love about the messed up words is that it means that those kids are probably learning their song by listening to a recording, and doing it by themselves (if they’re like I was as a child, they don’t want anyone else listening to them practicing…too embarrassing). They’ve probably sung “O beautiful for spaceship skies” for their pet turtle or their teddy bear dozens of times. I don’t think they learned it from their parents that way (although with the way pop artists seem to be incapable of singing the correct words to the National Anthem before big sporting events, I suppose anything is possible), so in addition to being pretty entertaining, it also impresses me every time a kid boldly sing the wrong words in an audition.

It’s usually during auditions that I remember that when I started my career, I wanted nothing to do with younger kids. After all, I wanted to make music– not teach little boogers with no attention span how to play “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on the recorder or how to sing songs with three different pitches or less. Certainly I was a good little M.P.I.T. (Musical Pharisee In Training), but thankfully I was knocked off of that path against my will.

A Musical Pharisee no more, I get to go to work every day and work with kids in Chorale and in schools. I get hear them laugh, watch them grow; help them sing, help them share. You can’t help but want to give your life to them. Sure, I’ll probably never conduct a famous opera or Beethoven’s 9th with a full orchestra and chorus now, but you know what? I’ve made my peace with that. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. At the end of the day, if I had to choose between working with kids and conducting the Beethoven’s 9th, I’d gladly choose to experience the real-life joy that emanates from children over getting to conduct a piece of music that’s mostly about joy. 100 times out of 100.

And maybe someday, if I’m really lucky, the kids will get to sing in the state of San Diego. I hear it’s pretty nice.

Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.”

Jesus, Luke 9:47-48

Music I DARE you to listen to

If you’re not busy this Friday afternoon around 19:00 CET (11:00am Denver time if my conversion is right), or you can multitask on your computer at work, you can watch/hear the Berlin Philharmoniker- one of the best orchestras, if not THE best orchestra on the planet- perform their first concert of the season online for free in what they call their Digital Concert Hall. All you have to do is register for a password, and you can get in. Click here to register for free with no obligations to sign up for emails or any of that stuff. The program is Beethoven 4 and Mahler 1. If you’re a teacher, I know it’s short notice, but maybe it can be streamed in your classroom? The Mahler is probably a snoozer for little guys, but they might like the Beethoven. Use your judgement.

Now just for fun, I thought I’d share some of our Chorale videos to hopefully give you a little taste of what I love about the CCC kids and being a part of the CCC family. If you want to see more than just these videos, check out our Youtube channel.

This video features the Prep Choir kids I worked with last year in a promo I put together for our spring concert.

This video features the Tour Choir singing Owl City’s “Fireflies” after just a couple of rehearsals. This was impromptu, and then I made a video out of it.

This is just me messing around with the kids as I occasionally do before rehearsal. Nothing is quite as invigorating as swatting the shots of kids that are 1/3 my age (or less).

You stay classy, Planet Earth. See you next Wednesday.

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Posted in: Music