What can be accomplished in just two hours a week? That amount of time seems highly insignificant in the grand scheme of things. However, that small window of time can lead to something beautiful when it is a structured, productive time.
Mobile’s Singing Children is a beautiful example of a small window of time being used efficiently and yielding beautiful results. The group is an auditioned community children’s choir based in Mobile. Since 1977, MSC has been providing musical opportunities to students on the Gulf Coast.
The group is comprised of four choirs, preparatory, intermezzo, concert and Encore. The concert choir is the touring choir of the group. Encore is a 12-member ensemble of changed male voices and concert choir singers who want to do even more singing. Each Monday the concert choir meets from 4 to 6 p.m. They come from different schools, different communities, different family backgrounds and different ideologies. What they share is more important than the differences. They share a love of music, a desire to perform well and bonds that can only be understood if you have truly connected emotionally to achieve a goal.
Each summer, we plan our adventures around when and where MSC will be on tour. I always jump at the chance to be a chaperone and not because I am a glutton for punishment. I just really enjoy the performances and getting to see the kids experience new things. Hearing them sing in St. Patrick’s Cathedral two years ago is among my favorite memories. When I think about maneuvering 40 kids through the NYC subway with many of them being on a train for the first time, I have to laugh. I can laugh now because everyone survived, at the time, it wasn’t quite so humorous! Tour marks the final performances of the season and the absolute last time that the seniors will don the black dresses or bow ties. I’ll have to be like Scarlett and think about that tomorrow, because I well know how quickly time is moving!
The professionalism that these students show is a testament to their commitment to the organization. They know what is expected of them, so they take their two hour, weekly rehearsal commitment seriously. While they may only meet in person for two hours weekly, they spend some of their private time working on the music. The pieces are complex and range from sacred to spiritual to folk songs and occasional pop music. It’s a diverse repertoire that showcases the group’s vocal ability, adaptability, artistic aptitude and versatility. (You should really come and hear them in person!)
My daughter and I arrived home late last night after a three-day tour with MSC to New Orleans. The kids performed four concerts in the three-day span and somehow found time to visit the zoo and aquarium, the National World War II Museum, a walking ghost tour, the Riverwalk and the family friendly, daytime side of the French Quarter. They enjoyed “Come from Away” a Broadway musical based on the events of Sept. 11, 2001 at the historic Saenger theatre and po-boys of their choosing from the famed NOLA eatery, Mother’s Restaurant. It was an adventure-filled extended weekend and I am thankful to have been a part of it.
Yes, we choose to drive to Mobile once a week to allow our daughter this opportunity. We believe it will continue to serve her well. Yes, she’s learning music, but that is not all she’s learning. She is learning the importance of discipline and why the choir director has stringent rules for all singers. She is learning diversity as she interacts with students who are from different ethnical and religious backgrounds than her own. She is learning adaptability because no two churches are the same and sometimes the entire program has to be revamped to fit the space. There are so many things that she learns within that two-hour span each week!
Patrons were amazed to learn that MSC only meets once a week for two hours. Excellence is achieved by diligence and in those two hours, the diligence and commitment are paramount for every single child.
What would happen if as an adult, I found time each week to be diligent and committed to the things I enjoy? What would you do with a two-hour window?
Congratulations, MSC on a fantastic 42nd season!
Weekly columnist. Feature Writer.