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We build men of character

How do we do this?  There are the rehearsals of course, each of which is a demanding 90 minutes of focused concentration. This is where an 8 year old begins his tenure in the choir, taught by music experts who understand the learning styles that are unique to boys. He will  tackle all the elements of music (rhythm, melody and harmony) and how to sing and how to blend as one voice. But this is only the “visible” part of the program.13177494_1192337600799295_1422001380546164117_n

Building anything of value takes time, attention to detail, opportunity and experience. At Houston Boychoir we offer those opportunities and experiences. Most recently boys attended Houston Grand Opera’s production of Carousel at the Wortham Theater Center. Here they experienced great singing, high quality production and the opportunity to interact with Houstonians who care about the arts. Boys dressed up for the theater and conducted themselves as gentlemen do.

On the first Saturday in May our Preparatory Choir took their annual Day Tour. On this trip they sang at a retirement community and witnessed how their gifts  of music impacted others on a personal level. From there, they stopped in Galveston at The Children’s Center, a place that operates to serve the homeless, the neglected, the abandoned, the abused or forgotten. They sang yes, but they have also spent weeks collecting gift cards, diapers, clothing, personal hygiene products, school supplies and more. Through this experience these boys they experienced the joy of giving as well as gained a deeper appreciation for their life circumstances.

These were two completely different experiences, each one designed to influence various aspects of the life of a man of character. I invite you to join us in our mission. You can volunteer, you can donate or perhaps you know of a boy who could benefit from a program such as this. The Houston Boychoir, it will change your life!

Visit our website and see how to audition.

Young men with a mission.

 

They Are Warriors

Caroling14He might be 8 years old or he might be 18, but every day he gets up and goes to school and then, 1 or 2 days a week after school he attends choir rehearsal where he learns the art of self discipline, of mental gymnastics, of precision  to detail, of nuance of language (both his own and foreign tongue), and of the physical stamina required to stand for long hours of rehearsal. He develops drive and the ambition to be better than he is. He learns how to be a team member, how to support his fellow choristers by knowing his part and by knowing what he is a part of. He learns how to take direction and he learns how to ask questions.

In addition to all of this, the boy gives up one Saturday a month to continue to add to his understanding of music, of teamwork and of himself. He must maintain excellence in all things: his grades, his conduct and his health. Then, come late November and December his schedule becomes the battlefield. He will participate in up to 20 performances, he will still have to take final exams or end of course work and when school is over and the concerts are done, he will take one more day to give to his community by spending 8 hours in the Houston Medical Center to give the gift of his music for patients, families, doctors, nurses and all hospital support staff.

In a few days these boys will begin the process again. They will happily come to rehearsal eager to see what new adventures will lie before them, adventures in music, in friendship, and in the journey we call life.

These are our future parents, educators, and leaders. We salute you singing boys everywhere!

Two Locations make Houston Boychoir twice as accessible and twice as fun!

 

Houston Boychoir is conveniently located in two areas of our city, making it even more accessible.

Houston Boychoir is conveniently located in two areas of our city, making it even more accessible

If you live outside the 610 Loop or north of Westheimer or 290 or I10, you will find our West Campus most convenient. It is a great place for multi tasking.  Run errands while your son is rehearsing or add steps to your Fitbit mall walking! We share our beautiful space with the Virtuosi of Houston Studio.

Memorial City Mall
303 Memorial City Way #235
Houston, TX 77024
Virtuosi Studio is in Memorial City Mall at the Target entrance near Macy's

Virtuosi Studio is in Memorial City Mall at the Target entrance near Macy’s

West Campus

Or you might find our Central Campus more convenient. In the heart of the city, it is located adjacent to Rice University and the West University Village at Christ the King Lutheran Church. The area is rich with opportunity.

Central Campus

Which ever campus you attend, our directors are top notch, the best in the field of elementary music and specialists working with young boys. You will find that when your son is engaged in singing, he is a healthier, happier boy and who doesn’t want that!

A Season in Preview

Fun in Robes at Bayou Bend

Fun in Robes at Bayou Bend

The upcoming 2015 – 2016 Season is taking shape

 October 4th 6:00PM Sunday – St. Thomas University, Sister Cities Opening Ceremony

October 11th, at 11:00 AM, First Lutheran Evangelical Church,

December 2nd 5:00PM Wednesday – MFAH Donor Party at Bayou Bend

December 10th 7:00PM Thursday – Texas Children’s Hospital Holiday Party at First Presbyterian

December 12 & 13 5:30 to 8:30 PM for the Heritage Society Annual Candle Light Tours atSam Houston Park in the St. John’s Church

December 20th 4:00 & 7:00PM Sunday – Winter Concert at First Presbyterian

January 31st 8:00AM Sunday – Church services at Gloria Dei Lutheran

February 6th 4:00PM Saturday – Sing 4 Life Concert at Grace Presbyterian

March 26, 2016, 5thAnnual Status of Boys Scholarship Luncheon, Junior League

April 10th at 5:00 PM, Concert for St. Philip Presbyterian Concert Series

May 15th 4:00 PM Sunday – Spring Concert at Moores Opera House, U of H

Church services at Christ the King, First Presbyterian, Grace Presbyterian

National Anthems for Houston Rockets and Houston Astros

Musings with wifi

It will be a quick post. Technology is so easy at home…life is so easy at home. On the road, life is unpredictable. So wonderful for us here. An unforgettable experience that these boys will remember forever. Today they have made new friends with South African singing boys…The Drakensberg are fantastic and lovely hospitable people.

I’m at a loss for words, South Africa is just amazing. We had a scrumptious breakfast on the balcony of our hotel, in front of a breathtaking sunrise. The warm, beaming sun isn’t the only thing that blows us away though, after about a half hour drive from the hotel, we arrived at a beautiful beach, overlooking the Indian Ocean. The water is crystal clear, and it’s a beautiful bright blue. You can actually see what’s in the water, unlike some other beaches I know….Galveston 🙂 A crisp cold water brushed our feet as most of us ran into the water with great excitement. Now we’re on our way to Drakensberg, on a 5 hour bus ride.
Lots of the other guys are playing games on the bus. However, I think there’s something else that we’ve all learned on our journey here so far, and that is how privileged we are in America, and how on many occasions, we take these privileges for granted. Some of the really simple things we have in the US aren’t found here. Take going to school, in the US, most of our public education here is free or of a low cost, because we pay taxes and such to the government. In South Africa though, many families can’t afford to pay for their child’s education, so going to school here is a serious privilege. On some of the bus rides before, we’ve passed by some poor communities, and I think that made us all reflect on how we should all appreciate all we’ve got back home in America. We all look forward to our time in Drakensburg, and hope for a great time there.
(JZ)

After the beach in Durban, we headed for the mountains. Our stop along the way took us to a waterfall in Howick. The artisans were out selling their wares. My favorite was an artist selling batiks from Malawi. The boys were happy buying and buying, spending their Rand. Matthew bought a wooden, carved letter opener he will have check or the plane will think he has a spear!!

Lunch was relaxed under a grand old tree and for a minute, it didn’t feel like tour but more like a relaxed vacation with a big family! Ms. Holt found a wonderful shop and dragged Ms. Nelson where the two ladies got into a buying frenzy. Mr. Bey had to go and drag them out of the shop and the boys were happy at last when they reemerged and got on the bus so we could be on our way.

We are traveling through the mountains, climbing.

Musings of a Traveling Singing Boy (or chaperone)
Every day on tour, especially an international tour, brings another adventure… what will we get to eat, what mode of transportation will we get to travel by and what new stories will we get to write? South Africa is definitely better than advertised. The landscapes and cityscapes are simply remarkable and they should only get better as we transition from the coastlines to the mountains. To steal a slogan from a South African bank (that was actually used as a sermon illustration on Sunday), “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” It’s the “simplicity” of music that has brought us on this journey and that I sincerely look forward to tomorrow in Drakensberg as boys from opposite sides of the world will join in voice, mind and heart.
*mf

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The First 48 Hours or Day 1!

This is the end of day one on the ground. We are so tired having left Houston, traveled first leg to Amsterdam, a unexpected stop in Rome to end at last in our beds in Cape Town some 28 hours later.  We were awakened for calesthenics and the first thing we noticed were the hills. Beautiful for the landscape, a challenge for young tired limbs. But really , it helps wake us up and our reward is a breakfast with eggs, choices of meats, vegetables, cereals, breads, pasteries, fruits and more. The staff wants to hear us sing and we are grateful for the food and the nice rooms so we do and they are so genuinely appreciative. But, no more than we! The day took us first to a nearby mall to find our legs and spend a couple of hours before going to rehearsal. Boys are surprised to see Gap, and Woolworth's other familiar store names but Ms. Holt is sad because there is no Starbucks in the South African cities!! We meet back at the bus. Mr. Fowler has printed our programs and some of the boys managed to find lunch. There are some very large pizza boxes. In the shopping Jonathan found a new Swatch to purchase, simple and elegant. It's off to find the hall where we will be singing our first concert tonight. It's beautiful so we are happy to begin our rehearsal which what we didn't know was to occupy two hours. Every time we had a break of a chance to sit we were asleep, even on the hard wooden floor. Off to dinner at Stag's Saratoga. This is an interesting chain of stores. Might be the similar to Chili's or Friday's. Each one is a little different because in the mall we had seen Stag's Alamo!! There was a lot of food served by a waitstaff in oversized, cow-skinned, spotted cow boy hats which one side pinned up Aussie style.  Service for 33 always takes longer. Restaurants love to see us coming on tour, a bunch of boys ready to eat, but then they never realize they have to feed us at the same time. It was drizzling with a chilly rain when we scurried back to the concert to change and prepare to make new friends. We are changed and seated in the hall for the first half of what would turn out to be a most inspiring evening of music making. First the Tygerberg Children's Chorus. A group of 62, mostly girls who sang with a glorious tone and energy. Tygerberg was followed by the South African Youth Choir who wore an African costume traditional in nature and who sang with such soul and beauty. Their set was twenty minutes of singing and dancing and shouting and energy and love of what they sing. It was magical and just the inspiration the Houston Boys needed to rise from their tired bodies and show their own love of the song! What a way to make new friends. To share an evening of music together. At the end, it was time for boys to meet thier new families with whom they would spend the next 3 nights. Happy and tired they went home to bed.

This is the end of day one on the ground. We are so tired having left Houston, traveled first leg to Amsterdam, a unexpected pp in Rome to end at last in our beds in Cape Town some 28 hours later.
We were awakened for calesthenics and the first thing we noticed were the hills. Beautiful for the landscape, a challenge for young tired limbs. But really , it helps wake us up and our reward is a breakfast with eggs, choices of meats, vegetables, cereals, breads, pasteries, fruits and more. The staff wants to hear us sing and we are grateful for the food and the nice rooms so we do and they are so genuinely appreciative. But, no more than we!
The day took us first to a nearby mall to find our legs and spend a couple of hours before going to rehearsal. Boys are surprised to see Gap, and Woolworth’s other familiar store names but Ms. Holt is sad because there iscities!!
We meet back at the bus. Mr. Fowler has printed our programs and some of the boys managed to find lunch. There are some very large pizza boxes. In the shopping Jonathan found a new Swatch to purchase, simple and elegant.
It’s off to find the hall where we will be singing our first concert tonight. It’s beautiful so we are happy to begin our rehearsal which what we didn’t know was to occupy two hours. Every time we had a break of a chance
Off to dinner at Stag’s Saratoga. This is an interesting chain of stores. Might be the similar to Chili’s or Friday’s. Each one is a little different because in the mall we had seen Stag’s Alamo!! There was a lot oRestaurants love to see us coming on tour, a bunch of boys ready to eat, but then they never realize they have to feed us at the same time. It was drizzling with a chilly rain when we scurried back to the concert to change and prepare to make new friends.

We are changed and seated in the hall for the first half of what would turn out to be a most inspiring evening of music making. First the Tygerberg Children’s Chorus. A group of 62, mostly girls who sang with a glorious tone and energy. Tygerberg was followed by the South African Youth Choir who wore an African costume traditional in nature and who sang with such soul and beauty. Their set was twenty minutes of singing and dancing and shouting and energy and love of what they sing. It was magical and just the inspiration the Houston Boys needed to rise from their tired bodies and show their own love of the song!

What a way to make new friends. To share an evening of music together. At the end, it was time for boys to meet their new families with whom they would spend the next 3 nights. Happy and tired they went home to bed.

[caption id="attachment_577" align="alignright" width="640"]Waiting to board in Amsterdam Waiting to board in Amsterdam

Two Weeks to South Africa

The start of an adventure. It has been years in the making. It was summer tour 2010 on tour in Baltimore when we said let’s go to South Africa for the 50th Anniversary Summer Concert Tour of the Singing Boys of Houston, now Houston Boychoir. So for the next two seasons we did a little extra fundraising and worked ahead and then the real planning began in the spring of 2012.

Thank goodness for the internet. We had our dear Jannie to send the names of choirs to contact and so it began. A wonderful agenda has been put together for the education of the boys both musical, geographical and social. But before we leave there is the packing.

Now as a traveler, I believe in going it light but not when traveling with HBC. Then it is traveling for 35. What do we need? Med forms, uniforms, gifts, first aid kits, extra ties, extra music, permissions and passports. New communication accessories and lists and more lists.

It’s 13 days until we leave. It is 8:30 PM as I write this and 13 days from now, we will be half way to Amsterdam and less than a third of the way to our first destination of Cape Town.

I hope you’ll join us as we go. If you want to send advice on travel, do so before July 16th. By then we will be up in the air and off and running.

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2010 on tour when we decided to go to South Africa. Look everybody likes the news

A Boy and his Spoon!

Mr. Fowler surveys the playing field.Going Deep.The Winner!

You can imagine that with 50 years of singing boys, there are many traditions in Houston Boychoir.  The most honorable award is the Singing Boy of the year, but my personal favorite is the Spoon Award.

One of the fun things about being in Houston Boychoir  [are] that we have many opportunities to eat out; that is where the Spoon Award comes in. In order to win this award you have to eat every thing on your plate and be neat, (or as Mr. Fowler is quick to remind us, ” it is quantity and quality”)  but the spoon is always watching!

In my 2 years of going on tour with HBC, after our formal dinner we’ve always gone to get ice cream. Every boy gets whatever he wants and then the 4 boys, that have been neat and have eaten every thing on their plate, year round, are chosen to participate in the competition.

At the competition Mr. Fowler orders a lot of ice cream. The four boys sit at a table with the ice cream. They have a specified limit to eat but, there’s one more twist, you don’t get to eat with regular utensils, you must eat with an item that has something to do with tour (this year it was a miniature minor’s hat keyring or it could be a guitar pick like the year we were in Nashville). Eventually after all that, the boys start eating. When the time limit ends they are judged on neatness and amount eaten. Who ever wins gets the special spoon for the year and his name on a plaque. If the same person gets it for 3 years the spoon is retired.

Going Deep.

Adrian Alhadidi, 7th grade

The Winner!

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

Events

A Concert with the Bay Area Youth Singers

Houston Boychoir Chamber Choir and Olde Boys will join forces as guests of the Bay Area Youth Singers on their annual February concert. This season the concert will feature in addition to Houston Boychoir, Barbara Johnson Tucker and Michael Pickett in celebration of Black History Month and the musical tradition  that has become legacy. Bring the whole family for this choral celebration.  

Hear the boys with Barbara & Michael