- August 10, 2017 at 8:01 pm #540503
Hello, all…I’m new to ChoralNet and in my 2nd year as a choir director at a small high school. Last year, a couple of my singers said they didn’t want to sing our national anthem because racism still existed in this country (a reasoning similar to that of NFL star Colin Kapernick. One student relented the day of the show, and another was suspended that day for a separate incident. My choir is very small, so several students planning a protest could really affect our voice power. When I sang in choirs, this was not an issue. Has anyone else had teen or older students ask to sit out of patriotic songs for political reasons (not religious)? Although I am a big free speech supporter, I think there are far more effective means of working for political change than refusing to sing in a musical performance. Most of the students in choir this year are not the same ones as last year. Thoughts?August 11, 2017 at 11:22 am #540522
I would start by asking the students what they hoped to accomplish by not participating. Surely they won’t be on tv, as professional football players are. After that I’d focus on how singing is the choir’s team activity. One or two sports team members sitting out while the National Anthem is performed won’t affect the team’s performance on the field, but as you clearly point out, missing one or two singers from your team greatly affects how the choir will perform such a difficult piece.August 11, 2017 at 11:23 am #540528
Our ensemble sings lots of songs about justice but we discuss each piece first. If any singer is uncomfortable with the content, we see if we can modify it. If not, we don’t sing it.
It’s not the same situation as yours but I just want to point out that adults have political reasons for not wanting to sing as well. For kids, this may be their only way of protesting. I don’t think it helps to criticize their choices. Support for free speech means supporting it even if you think it’s silly. I think it’s great those kids care enough about the issues to take a stand, no matter how small it is.
As for the impact it has on your remaining singers, perhaps you could just come up with a special arrangement for a quartet or other such small group that would then always do the song. That would simplify the issue.
Just some thoughts. Hope something in there is helpful.
CairrilAugust 12, 2017 at 10:52 pm #540596
Hi, Craig and Cairril,
I appreciate your reflection. I think that both of your approaches could work, depending on the personality and true belief system of the student (for example, are they doing it out of true conviction, or more to get attention). I’ve also learned that I have to be judicious about what is discussed in front of the group and what is discussed privately.
ElenaAugust 12, 2017 at 10:52 pm #540597
Thank you, Cairril and Craig. Appreciate your thoughts, and I think either approach could work. Thanks for considering the needs of the students and of the ensemble.
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