Creativity Hours: 230
Service Hours: 70
For My CAS Project, I joined a Children’s Choir, namely, Young Voices Toronto, which is the Children’s Choir in Residence at the University of Toronto. I was a chorister in the Chamber and Allegris divisions, provided administrative help, mentored younger choristers, and participated in dozens of individual concerts all over the city, and abroad. I joined because I saw a concert of theirs the year before and was so awestruck that I wanted to not only join, but help and lead in anyway I could.
Going into my first rehearsal, I didn’t know what to expect, my only goal was to improve my musicianship and theory skills, and in doing that, I was very successful. As time went on, I decided I also wanted to help foster a collaborative environment within the choristers, and arrange some music for the choir to use. The planned learning outcomes for the activity were Undertaking new challenges, Planned and initiated activities, Working collaboratively with others, Show perseverance and commitment, and Develop new skills.
Simply through the nature of being in a choir, initiative and innovation are required. Any musical endeavor requires initiative and self-discipline, as the only way it works is if you are practicing on your own time, outside of rehearsals, and working constantly to be the best musician you can be. In addition, I have been volunteering as administrative help for the choir as well, and serving as a liaison between the choristers and admin. Often when we go to performances, the nature of the beast is confusion and “hurry up and wait.” There are hundreds of people around and all of them are trying to complete their individual task. In this ordered chaos, I am there to make sure all choristers know what they are doing, that the younger members are looked after, and that the staff are getting what they need from the choristers. Being a part of the choir in particular is especially rewarding, as the music we do comes from all over the world, and in all styles. We have studied classical, sacred, jazz, pop, folk, traditional a cappella, and world folk. We have done music from all over the world and sung in languages such as Zulu, Japanese, Norweigan, Finnish, German, Fillipino, French, As well as multiple First Nations Languages, Malay, Spanish, and countless others.
I see myself as the cheerleader, taking care of everyone, and making sure everyone knows what they’re doing and what needs to happen. I believe I have strengthened the work of the choir as a whole, acting as a link for the creative staff and the choristers. When choristers have questions they don’t feel comfortable asking the artistic staff, I am the one they ask. When the artistic staff need an opinion or a voice on behalf of the choristers, I am the one they ask. Through my work with the choir, I’ve helped foster a bond between choristers, and helped our sense of community, allowing us to work together on big projects and learn complex music.
By far, one of the highest points in this experience was our tour to Latvia. The summer before grade 11, we participated in the World Choral Games in Riga as a showcase Choir. The experience was challenging and exciting as both a musician and a person, as we were experiencing new places, performing and rehearsing and working almost constantly, and spending so much time with each other that we really grew to be a family. As well, The concert for which we received an Ontario Arts Council Grant was new and exciting as it allowed us to stage a full production. Some of the most difficult were when large amounts of people left the choir. The influx of new choristers was difficult socially and artistically, as it threw the entire balance we created together. However, focusing on the goals, both of the group, and my own personal ones, helped bring focus and showed me what we had to do to move forward. One of the most important steps was to foster that familiarity we had before, and so I organized movie days and tried to encourage everyone to share in each other’s lives. One girl was in a professional production of Mary Poppins: The Musical, and so I organized a group of people to go watch and support her. That I think was an excellent opportunity for us all to socialize and build bonds as well as support our friend.
I think the long-term effect of what I’ve done is allow for a choir that teaches and give unique experiences, so the choristers involved can carry these memories and friendships and skills learned for the rest of their lives. Essential things like discipline, sensitivity, and teamwork which make not only great musicians, but leaders in our communities. These are things that choir does in a way few other activities can.
As four of us are graduating this year, I brought attention to my goal of arranging a piece for voice, and the others enthusiastically agreed. As of this June, we will be writing and performing our own piece together, outside of our required repertoire.
If I were to start the whole thing over again today, the one change I would make is that I would be more proactive from the start. Although I am very involved now and find it very rewarding, I spent, in my opinion, too long being hampered by my own fears. Not only did this delay my own successes, but it also might have changed the way the choir functioned earlier. This is a lesson I will carry with me through the rest of my life.
Choir changed the course of my life. It allowed me to realize my passion for music, and helped me understand that I wanted to pursue it, as well as imbuing a deeper appreciation for art on the whole. As a result of the skills and training I received at choir, I was accepted to multiple Music university programs. The long-term effects of our participation affect every single one of us choristers, and helped me learn that anything that I want in this life, I must go after it, and the only way anything comes to me is through hard work and dedication. It also illustrated more clearly to me than anything else ever has the value of cooperation, and what a varied and complex concept that is, and its full potential as a force for good in this world.
Margaret has been an indispensable volunteer for our organization!
General Manager Shannon Charnock
416 762 0657 firstname.lastname@example.org