The March 2015 issue of Choral Journal features an article titled “Why Music Education Matters to Me” by Kelsey Wickerham. You can read it in its entirety online at acda.org/choraljournal. Click “Search Archives” and choose March 2015 from the dropdown menu.
A “3,” another “3,” and a “4.” It was in that succession that I read the scores given to my choir at UIL Concert and Sight Reading my junior year of high school.
My tears flowed freely as I stared into the faces of the girls in my section while delivering the news. They went from expectant to disappointed when the first number fell from my lips. It were as if someone put weights into each word, coming down as crushing blows on their spirits. We did not look our conductor in the eye when he told us how proud he was of us in class the next day. We could not bear to look at our black binders. We could not accept the fact that despite our hard work—hours that must have added up to days in additional rehearsals for our music—three people delivered scores to us below our expectations.
Not superior…not even excellent…but average.
During the first semester of my senior year, I had enrolled myself in World Religions. The teacher was a man whom I deeply admired, the sole reason for me taking the course.
I remember the very first day of class he had a question projected from the overhead. We were to ponder it throughout the whole semester. It read: “Is it the journey that matters, or is it the destination?”
The question resonated throughout my entire being. Though it had been months since what had been perceived failure at UIL, it left behind an aftertaste that never dissipated. My disappointment with the destination caused me to forget all about the journey, and just how beautiful and meaningful and life changing of an experience it was for all of those involved. The hours that made up days of extra rehearsals were moments in our lives that shaped us as so much more than musicians.
We grew into people, forging friendships with our peers and laying a solid foundation for all future students who would be preparing for UIL through that program. On our journey, we made music. Beautiful music that echoed through our tiny choir room and down the halls of the music building. Inspiring music that kept us coming to each and every rehearsal, ready to create.
The destination in 2012 was not what we wanted it to look like, but it was not permanent either. While it took me five months to realize this, it shaped many of the philosophies I now hold as a future choir director. Straight “1s” do not mean a choir is more talented. It does not mean they worked harder or smarter or longer. The scores given at choral competitions are objective and based on one performance. The judges never see the breakthrough moments. They do not know from where a song is being sung.
Read the rest of this article (and more!) in the March 2015 issue of Choral Journal, available online at acda.org.