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High School Choir Problems/Venting

MerlehayMerlehay 3 replies2 discussions
My husband needs some reassurance that just because D is consistently rejected by the high school choir directors doesn't mean she shouldn't pursue a career in musical theatre.
He presented me with the sports analogy -- if your kid is sitting on the bench their senior year, they probably shouldn't pursue a career in pro basketball and he's worried about the expense we are going to to get her in an MT program.

Here's what we know: D had a successful career as a child professional in Regional theatre. Her voice teachers think she is great and can't understand why she doesn't make the elite choirs. Professional directors and actors she has worked with thinks she has what it takes. I assume CoachC and her MTCA vocal coach (though she has only had limited contact thus far) would have said something, but they have only been enthusiastic. The choir directors have stated that they are not looking for soloists, they highly value blending --- and it shows whenever I hear their singers sing solos (not too impressive). I really don't think I'm delusional about my child's talent, but can't help the doubt creeping in, especially when my husband gets concerned.

I am kind of at my wit's end with the whole choir thing. Auditions were held yesterday for the women's accapella group and D was not even called back. First of all, she knew the music perfectly. She has a very good ear and relative pitch. Add to that that she is a good singer and is going to be a senior -- wouldn't you think that she at least would get a callback?

D does not want me to say anything to anyone at the school, so I'm biting my tongue, but this has been going on since Freshman year and I can hardly bear to look at the choir directors (and I am VP of the Choir and Theatre Parents Org LOL).

Any insight?
edited May 2013 in Musical Theater Major
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Replies to: High School Choir Problems/Venting

  • ActingDadActingDad 8 replies0 discussions New Member
    Many of us have been there. At our high school, my daughter was good enough as a Freshman to be put up to sing the national anthem but was rejected from select choirs because her voice didn't blend. She applied for acting rather than MT but singing is a big plus to getting into UNCSA and it was commented on quite favorably during her post acceptance visit. Go with the pros opinions and ignore the hs choir
    edited May 2013
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  • broadway95broadway95 10 replies0 discussions
    A solo voice and choir voice are very different and depending on the choir and school politics can prevent some kids who are fabulous soloist from getting in. I would think that the coaches you have been in touch with will help you with assessing your D's abilities. My D is going to spend this summer before college to get the "choir" sound out of her voice.
    edited May 2013
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  • ActingDadActingDad 8 replies0 discussions New Member
    Picking up broadway95's point, the other point you can make to your husband as to the sports analogy is that choir and MT are not the same "sport." Here is the best sports analogy I can come up with. Aly Raisman won the gold medal in the floor exercise at the 2012 Olympics where individual unique qualities are celebrated. Yet I suspect she'd probably be a disaster and a bad fit at rhythmic gymanstics where blending with 4 other gymnasts is the key aspect of the scoring system.

    And please tell your daugther that she's not alone. I've had the pleasure of connecting with a number of CC parents whose kids did extremely well in the college audition process and had just awful high school experiences where there talents were not recognized or appreciated. It is one data point and not a very reliable one. You are doing the right thing to seek evaluations outside of high school.
    edited May 2013
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  • soozievtsoozievt 15 replies0 discussions Junior Member
    I agree with the others. Look at how your daughter fares on a regional level outside of school or if she attends a summer program away from home. You are doing the right thing to obtain outside evaluations from pros in the field.

    My D was in chorus and the select choir at our school. However, for All States (music), she only got into All State Choir in 9th grade but not for 10th or 11th (graduated HS after 11th grade), but in 10th and 11th, she won the highest award at All States....for both Vocal Performance and for Jazz. She had to accept the award at All States, not coming from the stage with the All State Choir, but from the audience. Also, they had never had a student win two state awards in music and so it was rather exceptional, yet at the same time, she didn't make it into the chorus! Even the head of All States thought that was strange (he told her). But I recall on the All State Chorus audition evaluation, she was marked down on blending her voice with others. Perhaps she is not meant for ensemble but more for solos. I don't know, though she was in a highly selective a capella group in college that came in 3rd in the International Finals and so I think she does OK in group singing. She was the leads in all our high school musicals, starting in 8th grade (not even in HS yet). Who can figure these things out....don't go by what a high school does. Use other benchmarks.

    And....some high schools are quite political. I know someone who wasn't in any of her high school productions but got into a top BFA program and went on to be a lead in a national tour. She had been leads at a summer theater program for years, where there were talented kids from all over the country, by the way.
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  • MarbleheaderMarbleheader 4 replies0 discussions New Member
    Next time your D is performing a song, snap a photo of her face, which I'm sure will be absolutely radiant as she sings on stage. Whenever you husband questions the MT path, just hold up the photo . . . no need for discussion!
    edited May 2013
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  • ActingDadActingDad 8 replies0 discussions New Member
    Great point Marbleheader. I have a video clip from Freshman Choir where the choir was doing some song from Wicked. It would take some who has a clue less than 3 seconds to answer the question -- which one is going to a BFA acting or MT program -- just from "presence" radiated versus the rest. Because most choir directors don't come from that group, I swear there must be something in some of them that are resentful of the notion that someone stands out. Happened in both middle school and high school with my daughter. Have heard countless similar stories.
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  • LoveMyMTGirlLoveMyMTGirl 4 replies1 discussions Forum Champion
    I agree, MT and Choir are 2 totally different things. I also understand about the High School problems though.

    My D's high school does not have any choirs nor do they have any musicals due to budget cuts. However, the neighboring high school in the same community has 4 different choirs and has musicals. Now the neighboring HS is supposed to allow students from my D's high school to participate in the choirs, but whenever we would inquire they were either full or never answered us. It was probably for the best as she has been cast in musicals in the greater regional area and would not have had the time for the choir.

    She was in a non-school competitive choir in middle school and early HS. When she decided she wanted to pursue MT, she had to quit because she wanted to attend a MT summer program which conflicted with the summer competitions for choir.

    I would tell your husband to focus on the MT accomplishments and not worry about the choir!
    edited May 2013
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  • jeffandannjeffandann 2 replies0 discussions New Member
    Have your husband contact me. My D went through 4 years of high school and was not the lead in any of the musicals the high school did. Had some good ensemble parts but no leads. Now understand the high school has almost 5000 students and competition is fierce. She was a lead in two plays. She was in performing show choir for two years, President as a senior, and was a featured soloist for some numbers (and their choir was ranked in the top 3 in the country). And for Summer Stock musicals she was ensemble for the past 4 years and is a supporting lead this coming summer. So based on that your husband might think my D would not be a candidate for a BFA program. Out of the ten she applied to, she was offered two BFA MT spots and one BFA acting spot, and will happily be pursuing her BFA MT this fall.

    What she would tell you (and I heard her tell a group of parents and underclassmen interested in MT) is that her experience was actually a help to her in the long run. It showed her you have to hang in there, you have to audition well, and that nothing is going to be handed to her when she gets to college and beyond. Doesn't mean she wasn't ticked off about how things went. But she feels, and I agree, that she is much more ready to handle what's coming at college than, say the, student who went to a smaller school, had the leads all 4 years because of a relative lack of competition, and then finds out in college there are people just as good if not better. There's a lot of stuff that goes on in high school that doesn't go on in later years than can affect these decisions.

    I think the best thing we did was to have her evaluated by folks in the business, and by the woman who was her audition coach. All these folks told us she had the talent and ability to be accepted into a BFA MT program, and they were right. Seek out those folks and get an objective appraisal. I suspect you'll be pleased by what they say.
    edited May 2013
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  • prntosomeprntosome 13 replies0 discussions
    My D never made it to the school choir either. She was told by the head of the program that her voice was too "theatre-y" and didn't suit the needs of the program. She only auditioned that once and never took it as a sign that she wasn't good - just not a good fit. It gave her time to do other things (lots of dance!). She is happily in a very good BFA MT program in the fall!
    edited May 2013
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  • soozievtsoozievt 15 replies0 discussions Junior Member
    While this experience is not choir per se, it is about school shows too.

    Our middle school and high school are at one facility. MS students were allowed to audition for the HS play and musical (though they had their own musical) and my D opted to only try for the HS ones while in middle school. Once in a great while, someone from MS got into a HS show. My D was very fortunate in MS that she not only got into the HS plays and musicals, she was cast as leads in them while still only a MS student. The dramas and musicals are run by separate people.

    In ninth grade, once she entered the HS, she tried out for the fall play, after being the lead in it the previous two years. She did not even get into the play at all. That seemed pretty drastic to be good enough as a lead at such a young age (the roles were not young ones either), yet not good enough to be in the play at all once she got to HS! In subsequent years, she didn't even bother to try out for the fall plays at school and was cast in regional adult productions in the fall. She continued to be leads in the school musicals throughout HS, however. Getting to participate in the fall play was (at the time) important to my D as she was going to pursue this field in college and for her career. It is, of course, important for a wide range of kids to participate in school theater (and they wanted to give others a chance), and I applaud that, but in her year, she was the only kid to go onto this field as a career and so considering we have NO drama classes at our school, being in the play mattered to her for experience, but oh well. We certainly didn't feel it was a commentary on her talent and had other benchmarks to go by outside of school. She is about to open in a role in an Off Broadway show. So, school settings are not necessarily the best assessment of your kid's talent.
    edited May 2013
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  • Walker1194Walker1194 4 replies0 discussions New Member
    Here's the bottom line with high school programs for choir or drama... don't worry about those directors or parents. You know the old saying what opinions are like? Yeah... that. Your D should continue on her path at her pace to pursue her dreams. Get a vocal teacher (formal classical training) and a MT vocal coach. Read plays and find monologues. Take dance lessons and get ready for auditions. Study for the ACT/SAT. Your D will be busy enough without choir. That is my advice :).
    edited May 2013
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  • soozievtsoozievt 15 replies0 discussions Junior Member
    ^^While I agree to not worry too much about what your kid got into or not in high school in terms of choir or productions, I want to reiterate that it IS important to get a handle on how competitive your kid is for BFA programs if she/he wants to apply.

    There are many ways to do that including auditioning for regional productions outside of school, entering adjudicated events or award programs on a state, regional, and/or national level, getting independent assessments from voice, acting, and dance teachers (or coaches) who are familiar with students who have been admitted to BFA programs, and/or attending summer programs that draw from a more national talent pool and assess one's standing among that group.

    What happens in your hometown school is not enough to go by, even if you are very successful as a "star" in your school setting or in the case of this thread, are not chosen for some select school based group. You must look beyond your local school to get a sense of where you stand.
    edited May 2013
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  • CallieneCalliene 4 replies0 discussions
    There is another thread somewhere around here called "Bad Day" that may make you feel better. Not getting in/not getting a part can have so many factors that often have nothing to do with talent. Some schools try to spread the wealth around, some reward seniority, some reward kids of parents who help a lot, etc. And it may be true that some of our MT kids have booming belts that choir directors fear might overpower the rest of the kids. Of course it really would be nice, since this is a SCHOOL, where the object is to LEARN, if whoever auditioned your daughter would give her some feedback, especially if they know she wants to perform for a living. But it does seem that feedback is rare. If your daughter doesn't want you to call the school, would she feel comfortable (or have the courage) going to the auditioners and asking where they felt she fell short? Of course if it is a political situation (sadly, these exist) they probably won't tell her the truth, but if you/she trust any of the auditioners then maybe they will give her helpful feedback. On the other hand, it may be good to just learn to "move on" when these things happen, because they are going to happen over and over again. Reframe it. Yes, not being in this choir may give her more time to take more dance, work on her audition material, or study for SAT's. Honestly, being in that a cappella group is not going to help her much get ready for what you all have coming at you next year with college auditions. If I were you I would worry more if she weren't ever getting cast in plays and musicals which, like others have said, is a pretty different animal.
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  • takeitallintakeitallin 13 replies0 discussions Junior Member
    My D spent 3 years in HS choir before opting not to participate her senior year. Her choir director constantly told her that she sang incorrectly and that she did not blend well. He resented the fact that she took private voice lesons and told her it was ruining her voice. When she was selected as a finalist for the LA Music Center Spotlight Awards, he made a comment that he was surprised she was selected given her singing techniques (she took 3rd). Then when he found out she submitted for the Richard Carpenter Awards, he told her it was a waste of time as she had no chance (she won). She was fairly active in local regional theater, and he seemed to resent that also. She decided it wasn't worth, and at that point was involved in other things that were more fun and rewarding. It in no way impacted her acceptance to MT BFA programs- she graduated from PSU in MT a few weeks ago. We never quite figured out what the problem was but decided it was his problem. She was not alone- a couple of other kids who sang outside of the choir had similar issues.
    edited May 2013
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  • srwsrw 1 replies0 discussions New Member
    Hi, it's been a long time since I have posted here, but I thought this discussion was interesting and I thought I had a little something to add. High School choir is NOT indicative of success in any way! Some want the blended sound, some take all comers, some are political - especially who gets the solos. My S rarely if ever got the solos, I had the opportunity to ask the choir director about it and her answer was she used it as a chance to give opportunity to students who tended to not have many - a chance for them to step up to the plate and shine - to have that moment. My son had lots of opportunity so I never complained again, I liked her approach.

    A good thing to remember when considering your students possible success in MT is not everyone can be the leading lady/man. MT needs great supporting actors, character actors, ensemble people and chorus people. Sometimes I think the non lead types have a better chance of getting cast and I think they work more also - something to think about.

    Said son, got into the MT program of his choice, switched to VP got into the masters program of his choice with full scholarship and has now had his professional debut in a big house. Dreams do come true.
    edited May 2013
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