Monday was the first Intergenerational Choir rehearsal of the summer. I have directed this choir for ten years and every year I get so excited that I always get jitters leading up to the first day. The group has been around for the past 23 years and was the brainchild of an incredible woman named Jody.
Jody had a strong tradition of music in her family and felt that her community needed more opportunities to make music over the summer, particularly for her children. So she created the Dryden Intergenerational Band and Choir. What started out as a small group of people, turned into a big part of the community for over two decades. Through the years the band and choir has always stayed true to its values - no auditions, open to all ages and abilities, and completely free. Amazing, right? It gets better.
Over the last ten years I have had groups of singers ranging from ages nine to ninety one. Often times intergenerational families come to spend their evening singing together. Many return year after year as this summer choir is their only musical outlet. Some adorably describe it as “music camp.” Others shared with me that they have not been in a choir in over forty years and wanted to return to making music. Some are able to read music, most cannot. A few admit that they have never sung at all, yet they end up finding their voice over the course of the summer. It’s truly empowering and extraordinarily special. It is a spectacular music making experience and I feel honored to be their choir director.
I have to choose my repertoire in advance and have NO IDEA who is going to show up! This is sometimes very daunting going into the first rehearsal, but I was just SO excited on Monday that I didn’t feel the nerves as I usually do. Sixty people showed up to rehearse (a much larger group than usual)! We dabbled in each of the six songs and the sound was tremendous. We learned some notes and rhythms, but more importantly learned how to be brave when we sightread. It is always okay to make big loud mistakes. We worked with phrasing and dynamics and felt the movement and intention of the phrases. We made funny noises during warm ups, practiced tall vowels, and we laughed and smiled a lot.
But even besides all of that good stuff, I LOVE this choir because for me it is the missing piece in my teaching job throughout the year. I preach lifelong learning all the time, however this choir is the perfect example of lifelong learning. These people come to rehearsal week after week, year after year because of their commitment to themselves to keep music as a part of their lives. I have a huge responsibility to deliver a musical experience that is inclusive, accessible, educationally sound and of course super fun.
Our first rehearsal was so joyful and I can’t wait to make music with them all summer. We have six two hour rehearsals and two concerts on the horizon - so stay tuned! I'm looking forward to sharing our stories!