A Boy Does a Man’s Work

Here is where they begin

Once In Royal David’s City, a traditional solo for a boy to sing during the Christmas season. Houston Boychoir featured two boys at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. St. Martin’s is the largest Episcopal Parish in the United States and the architecture is that of a gothic cathedral in the french style. It is a magnificent building to the glory of God.

But that’s not what prompts me, a music teacher and director to write. How do I say how proud I am of these two boys. Having taught for 20+ years I can tell you that these are quite ordinary boys. Today 2 sang. One is in 6th grade and one in 7th grade. They’re good students, both like popular music, they both enjoy video games and the computer and they still enjoy their parents. They are ordinary boys…

Until you put them in an environment of adult musicians and ask them to respond accordingly…and they do. They read music with the best of them, and they can adapt to new situations with the flash of a simple instruction. They stand like pros with not a hint of nervousness. They are truly amazing.

They make me so proud and assure me that what I have been called to do is the right thing. The right thing for me, for them, for their parents and for our future world together. How lucky I was to be called to this work, how fortunate indeed that I have been fulfilled in my love of music from childhood.

If you are reading this and you are the parent of a youngster, get them enrolled in music as fast as you can. Not to study music with the intent of making it their life work or becoming great artists.  Obviously society would be in trouble if everyone wanted only to be a great musician. But, studies have been done for some time now on basic intelligence as it relates to learning music and every child  if given the opportunity will benefit in scores of ways from music.

Music is mathematic in its rhythmic aspects.  Time is precisely subdivided into fractions which must be figured out on the spot from the musical notation. And they have to do it in their head, there is not time to work it out on paper.

Music teaches scientific principles of acoustics including sound intensity, tone quality, volume changes, melody and harmony.  each of these is related to its aesthetic implications.  through learning to tune and handle their instruments or voices, children can learn about harmonic vibrations and overtones.  They learn that the faster the vibration, the higher the pitch and the slower the vibration the lower the pitch and what sort of energy does it need to make that vibration at exactly the right speed and intensity.

Music teaches foreign language.  Terms in French, Italian and German tell us that there are many ways of saying the same thing.  Songs learned in foreign languages help accustom the child to the words and sounds of the language.  Text is more easily remembered when set to music.  It is truly the universal language.

Music teaches history,  Each of the recorded periods of human history has had a musical counterpart.  The music of each period expresses the times of which it is born.

Music teaches geography and understanding of different cultures.  The nature, the emotional makeup of a people is expressed in its music.  we learn specific feelings about a nationality as they are put forth by its composers, who often incorporate existing folk musical idioms in their music to create a nationalistic sense.

Physically, the study of music requires muscular coordination, agility and motor control.  Muscles of the hands, fingers, face and diaphragm must work together with perfect timing.  Kinesthetic senses develop as they relate to the sound that the ear hears and the mind interprets.

Music is art because it is human expression.  It is a medium through which man can express beauty.  Great music from all eras is great because it has power to humanize mankind.  It teaches us to be more feeling and sensitive.  It can take away depression.  It can provide impetus for action.  It can poetically describe all ranges of human emotion.  It can soothe troubled nerves or bring light into a dark world.  It can bless us with precious humor and increase our understanding of beauty, of compassion, of gentleness, of goodness and of life.  It can inspire men and women to good deeds and bring them closer to an infinite beyond this world.

Few things teach self-discipline as effectively as daily musical practice.  The work is not easy, and determination is required in order to reap the rewards.  David P. Gardner, president of the University of California, stated the case succinctly in an interview for the August 1984 issue of B.Y.U. TODAY when he said, “I think my capacity to concentrate and to be self disciplined in my approach to problems was significantly helped by my training on the piano and pipe organ.”

Musical training cultivates musical taste.  If children are not exposed to music of the masters, there is no reason to assume that they will choose to listen to it.  What’s more, it is the music that the children make themselves that has the greatest impact on them.  For a youngster, being in the heart of the group, the choir or orchestra, is many times more rewarding than listening to the same music performed by someone else.  Children who have a taste for a broad range of the great music will still enjoy what is popular, but they also know something greater!

So as I wish you all a happy New Year and I thank you for the privilege of working with your sons I congratulate you on having the foresight and the fortitude to stick with these extracurricular demands placed on you, on your children and on your family. It is worth it for your son and for the world in which we live.

English: No. 71 from St. Matthew Passion from ...

St. Matthew's Passion

It’s still a boy’s voice!

Singing in the Houston Boychoir is really fun because we get to go to all these cool places to perform. For instance, just since September we’ve sung at several weddings and toured to Austin.

What I am REALLY thinking when I perform when I sing, I have no feelings of stage fright. As I sing, I am mostly thinking about what words come next. Even when it’s really tempting to look around, I don’t, because maybe Mrs. Nelson is giving a really important signal and it would be embarrassing if I missed it.

Some of the older boys tell me about funny stuff they see in the audience but I really don’t notice very funny things because I am looking at the Director.

Our Director makes us work really hard, but I like it. For instance, take a song that we recently performed, the German carol, In Dulci Jubilo. We spent many hours in total working on the last chord! I love how Mrs. Nelson pays attention to detail. She makes sure that we sound good.

 

Seb, 5th grade

A Boy’s Perspective

Singing in a Boychoir means having a sense of maturity, yet still having a sense of fun. It requires a balance of focus and a sense of humor and knowing when, is the appropriate time for each.

I have to admit, sometimes during rehearsal my mind dozes off into space. However, when I am on stage, I TRY to think about the music and the correct words that should be coming out of my mouth.

One of the funniest things lately that I have seen was at a wedding in Austin. The flower girls were dressed as angels and had Angel Wings strapped to the back of their dresses.

Our director makes us work hard, but it pays off!

Keaton (7th grade)

Waiting To Sing

Houston Boychoir, The Ultimate Wedding Choir

Just returned from the 3rd wedding of our season. What do boys learn from this experience?
They learn a lot about people and how they celebrate events.
They learn about giving joy and receiving joy from giving.
They travel in a motor coach limousine.
They learn to cooperate with each other.
They learn that they need to look out for each other and not just for self
They learn about each other.
They laugh together.
They build memories and personal history

There is more learning to be done this season with 4 more to go.

Members of Houston Boychoir Chamber Choir 2011

Giving Thanks

A week off for boys and directors gives us time to celebrate.

Teachers who support Houston Boychoir by believing in their boys who love music and trusting enough to refer. We thank you, we know how hard you work and we are partners. Thank you for keeping the music playing on!

Christ the King Lutheran Church thank you for your gift of house and home.

St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, Dave Henning and the music, thank you for believing and cherishing.

Thank you artist, friend and parent Louise who makes our face for the world to see.

Thank you ground troops, directors and accompanists with the Prep Choir and Mr. Sink your love is showing.

Thank you parent volunteers who drive, wash clothes, fit ever wiggling arms and legs for length of pant and sleeve, who publicize and spread the good name of Houston Boychoir, who plan and agonize along with the directors, who question where do we go from here.

The boys who come weekly or twice weekly through rain and wind and mountains of homework to lift their voices in song and color our lives with humor and music.

Thank you Business Leaders and Supporters, Bulls Eye Storage, CypherDesignStudio, Houston Arts Alliance, Kelsey Seybold Clinics, KUHF Radio, Parker Uniform, Pierpont Communications, Texas Children’s Hospital, Texas Commission on the Arts, Dr. James Hoyle and Nancy Sims.

Thank you Board of Directors for your due diligence and devotion, thought and creativity.

See you all at the concert in December

Celebrate the Holidays with Houston Boychoir

The Holidays are Upon Us!
Make Houston Boychoir part of your celebration.
Join us for one or all of these events.

A Tapestry of Voices: Celebration
Villa de Matel!
Sunday, December 4, 2011
3:00 p.m.
Hear Houston Boychoir as guests of the Bay Area Chorus! Voices from the past and present are woven together in performances of original compositions and arrangements of traditional carols as we celebrate holiday traditions from around the world. The stunning beauty and fabulous acoustics of the concert venues is sure to enhance your enjoyment of our annual holiday concert season.

49th Annual Heritage Society Candlelight Tours
Sam Houston Park, Downtown Houston
Friday and Saturday, December 9 & 10, 2011
6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Hear the angelic voices in the historic St. John’s Church reminiscent of an old fashioned Christmas.

Candlelight Holiday Celebration at Bayou Bend
Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 1 Westcott St.
December 10, 2011
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Candlelight Open House tours allow visitors to experience the holiday glow of Bayou Bend in the evenings. Take a first floor tour of the collection while docents in each room explain the holiday decorations and traditions. Relax outside with a cup of hot cider as the Houston Boychoir serenades with many of your holiday favorites.

Houston Boychoir Winter Concert
First Presbyterian Church
December 18, 2011
7:00 PM
Start your holiday by joining joyous voices fill the air with happiness and holiday cheer. This annual tradition will feature an array of voices from the very small to the very tall, from boys to men.

Halloween and Singing boys and why we do what we do!

This season Halloween is on a Monday, a rehearsal night. The request came from a parent. The boy needs to go to a party. The next parent wonders if there is a rehearsal on Halloween because the chorister has younger siblings who need to trick or treat.

We need this rehearsal. We strive diligently to create the highest form of music making but after much pondering I thought there are some battles not to fight. While that decision does not support the professionalism we instill, it might be the right decision.

But, when when the announcement that they could take Halloween would be a rehearsal holiday as well, there were boys who were genuinely disappointed. Wanting to please, I said I would show up and those who wanted could show up too.

More than half came. It was a wonderful rehearsal, they are amazing young musicians Candy and cupcakes with eyeballs and worms were enjoyed by all.

And these are the moments that keep us going. We are a strong group, young in spirit yet abound with wisdom. Where does this come from. It is the music in their souls.

And So It Begins…Renewal

In March there is Baseball Spring Training and in August there is Summer Camp for Houston Boychoir. For more than 30 years new boys, Rookies, head to camp with seasoned the seasoned boys to begin the rigorous training required to do the job and all that is required of membership with the chosen few, boys who sing.

They are a remarkable bunch of boys, who don’t know they are children. While in HBC mode they work like men and sing…so overused to say sing like angels! So I will say that their sound is extraordinary it can both melt the heart and make it ache for more.

Six of these boys have gone from sitting on the floor cross-legged to standing for hours and holding a folder full of music about a third of which will be memorized by their first performances in September.

But at this particular moment they run and shout and play in the same manner that all the other campers with whom we share these beautiful woods do. In a few hours we are back to work, preparing the business at hand.

A Season to Preview

A Look Ahead at the 2011-2012 Season

September
*Texas Pediatric Foundation Annual Benefit
*Wedding St. Martin’s Episcopal Church

October
*Wedding Chapelwood United Methodist Church

November
*Wedding Memorial Church of Christ

December
Concert with the Bay Area Chorus
Villa de Matel
December 4, 2011
2:00 PM

49th Annual Heritage Society Candlelight Tours
Sam Houston Park, Downtown Houston
Friday and Saturday, December 9 & 10, 2011
6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Houston Boychoir Winter Concert
First Presbyterian Church
December 18, 2011
7:00 PM

*Wedding Austin Texas
*Wedding Trinity Episcopal Church

January
Concerts with Hope Stone Dance Company
And Mercury Baroque Orchestra
January 12, 13, 14 & 15, 2012

*Wedding St. Martin’s Episcopal Church
*Wedding Catholic Cathedral, Beaumont Texas

May
49th Annual Spring Concert
Sunday May 15, 2012
4:00 PM
University of Houston Moores Opera House

*Private Performances

Houston Boychoir Partners with Houston Symphony

HOUSTON BOYCHOIR joins the Houston Symphony in sold out performances of Lord of the Rings. Hear the score by composer Howard Shore played live by the orchestra while a screening of the film is playing. Fun for all ages. Hear the incomparable sounds of Houston Boychoir each time the Ring Theme sounds! Professional players, professional boys.