Beginning year 3 of an a cappella boys’ choir: Integrity


Week One: Integrity - where values and behaviors line up

Week One: Integrity – where values and behaviors line up

First class of Field School Boys’ Choir 2015-16 was great. We are 29 singers strong as we enter our third year of the program.

We will be using The 8 Keys of Excellence as a tool for contextualizing the school mission of “developing well-rounded boys of character and accomplishment” as it applies to choir. For any of my parents reading this, to maximize singing time today we only talked about the first one. The kids haven’t received a list of what all 8 keys are since we are beginning the year without folders they would be lost papers… – Wewill focus on one a week for the next 8 weeks.

We begin the year with defining integrity. 

A couple of of our examples in action were…

“If we value being an amazing choir, making the most of rehearsal time is a behavior that matches with that…we are in integrity.”

“If we value being an amazing choir and we ignore the cut-off signal to do our own thing, disrupting rehearsal, that behavior wastes rehearsal time and does not match up with the value…so we are out of integrity.”

When a few singers were creating too much surface noise early on in the rehearsal, one chose to remove himself and relocate to the other side of the circle. I failed to acknowledge it in class so I called his mom to let her know that this was a great example of integrity and that I loved seeing this in him.

One of the things I learned last year was with a group that is new to singing together and there is little to no institutional memory and limited personal experience (as you find in a new program) phrases like “serving the music” or “respecting each other” are too vague. To serve to the music a singer must be able to draw upon many small acts of musicianship that they haven’t yet learned. To respect one another has a different nuance in choir than it does in the lunch room. Our young singers need to be given the benefit of being taught what Integrity looks like as we make music together. This year we have a core group of kids who are entering their third year singing together so now we can start to deepen how we relate to each other with a common language.

Looking forward to upping our musicianship game!


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