Do you know a child who loves to sing?
He who sings, prays twice.
Keep Calm and Join a Choir!
Children who play a musical instrument do better in school.
You’ve heard them all. I’ve used many of them myself to recruit new singers. I first saw the title “Do you know a child who likes to sing?” on a recruitment brochure from St. Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue in New York. I thought it was a great way to catch the attention of people who might send me lots of children who loved to sing. I used it a few y
ears and then began to notice it was also on most of my colleagues’ recruitment brochures. One summer we were at Salisbury Cathedral in England and, believe it or not, that question was at the top of their choir recruitment poster!
Who could go wrong with quoting St. Augustine: “He who sings, prays twice.” Parents would be standing in line to sign up their children for the Cathedral Choir! Prayers ascending twice; who could resist?
Why not join the “Keep Calm” fad and add “Join a Choir” to the WWII morale-booster poster? Everyone’s doing it…
And what many of us thought would bring choir enrollment to record highs were all of the studies that prove that children who play a musical instrument or sing in a choir and know how to read music do much better in academics than students who do not. Who wouldn’t want to be smarter and get better grades in school? Children would be begging their parents to be in choir.
Are all of these one-liners true? Yes, absolutely. Do they help in recruiting? Maybe, but not as much as I would have hoped. Most choirs do not have a long line of parents waiting to sign up young singers for the next choir season. Nor are parents registering their newborns years in advance in order to guarantee a spot in the Cathedral Children’s Choir. Perhaps this is because written materials can only tell you what we do but in order to know what it will mean a person has to experience it.
So here’s my invitation to anyone in the Diocese: come and spend a day, a few hours or even a few minutes at this year’s Choir School at the Cathedral to see how young people are impacted by being in a choir.
A few things you will observe during the week:
- Children and youth of all ages singing and praying together
- Adults teaching and encouraging young singers
- Older singers mentoring younger singers
- Daily worship
- Learning about the Eucharist, the Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal 1982
- Group rehearsals where singers learn new music and improve individual technique
- Clergy interacting with singers through worship and Christian Formation sessions
- Field trips
- Guest professionals presenting Master Classes
- Singing the National Anthem at a baseball game
- Cooking and serving a Pancake Breakfast to 100 of the Cathedral’s Food Pantry guests
Choristers also develop leadership skills, learn to work as part of a team, foster a sense of personal commitment, learn the importance of giving of time, talent and service for the good of the community.
Choir School will be offered at the Cathedral of St. Paul the week of August 17-21 for any young person who would like to explore what it’s like to be in the Cathedral Children’s Choir. Singers come from the Cathedral congregation, from other Episcopal congregations (St. Stephen’s and St. Mark’s) as well as other churches in the community. Singers are only expected to sing at the Cathedral two Sunday mornings each choir season so any singer may remain active in their own congregation. There is no cost to attend Choir School.
The Cathedral Children’s Choir meets on Wednesdays from 4:00 pm -5:30 pm September through May. A complete schedule of services, concerts and other singing engagements in the community is published at the end of August. Children as young as 7 may join. Boys may sing until voice change and girls through high school.
Do you know a child who loves to sing? Of course you do! Please contact the Cathedral of St Paul for more information. Or better yet, bring him or her to Choir School for a stimulating, challenging and fun experience!
Sharon A. Downey, Canon Musician, the Cathedral of St. Paul, Erie, PA