Silencing the Music

Disclaimer:  I'd like to preface this post by saying what I am about to write is what I feel right now.  It's my frustration and sadness.  With that said, I also realize that in the scope of things in the world (pandemic, racism/casteism, etc.) this is NOTHING.  Although there is nothing I can really do about any of this, I need to get this out of my head and onto (not) paper.  So here we go...

Music has always been a big part of my life. (If you follow this blog you know that...that's how my top 10 albums became so much more and actually 3 posts: ,  and )  My husband is a huge music fan too.  (He still says I married him because he had The Partridge Family albums that I was missing.)  We have a huge music collection.  I have been in my church's choir for over 30 years (yikes!).  It shouldn't come as any surprise that our son is a music lover too.  His tastes are eclectic, just like ours.  He asked for (and received) a turntable for Christmas, on which he plays mostly Sinatra and swing era music.  He's spend most of his summer with his headphones on listening to whatever as he does whatever he does on his computer.

As parents we've encouraged his musicality.  In elementary school he sang (as did every kid) and picked up the trumpet.  In middle school he played the trumpet and sang.  For a while he was in two that anyone could be in and one that was an audition group.  (Full disclosure:  I don't think he auditioned, I think the fact that he was a male and would be a part of the group is how he got placed.)  When it came to high school, he wasn't sure about continuing the trumpet and seeing how choir and band would prevent him from other electives (including what was a mandatory elective...figure that out), he gave up the trumpet (he was ready, I was not) and stuck with choir.

As a freshman last year, choir definitely shaped his experience.  The teacher was wonderful and understanding (especially when he completely screwed up and didn't submit assignments because he couldn't figure out how to record and get to her).  She was also pregnant, which meant that she would be gone from February to the end of the year.  However, during the months from September to February, my son was part of one of two choirs (the 2nd being an audition choir that actually met BEFORE school several days a week and during lunch period the other days) that performed the national anthem before the annual band competition (and of course wore a suit), caroled up and down the avenue (in the rain), gave a winter concert AND sang at the Empire State Building. The teacher's replacement was just as awesome and somehow managed to provide choir instruction remotely during the pandemic.  (Even though there was no spring concert.)

Of course it wasn't all about the actual music.  The group of singers was diverse and my son made some great friends as a result; even as he was the only male freshman singer.  It was the whole "package" that made choir the type of adventure that he (and we) were thrilled to be part of.  And even though we were disappointed that the music department was unable to take their trip to Cleveland due to covid, there was so much more good than there was disappointment.

Until we had to put together his schedule for the upcoming school year which starts in approximately a month.  (School opening has been delayed due to construction on all the school; which was planned WAY before the pandemic.)  Choir meets 3 period.  French II meets 3 period.  He is required to take 2 years of language and has been studying French since 5th grade.  (And only coming to love it since last year as a result of another amazing teacher.)  As much as choir is a part of the fabric of his life (and ours), there was no possible alternative.  The music has been silenced.  (And if there is any possibility of a music trip in 2021 that's out the window too...after all the years of fundraising and participation.)

Now there IS a chance that he could be part of the auditioned choir...if that choir is going to exist this year.  I don't know if it is.  I'm not even 100% sure that his choir teacher is returning from maternity leave.  (I haven't been able to reach her via email...which I don't hold against her...its summer and she has an infant and family to take care of.) IF there is an audition choir, I don't know if my son has the voice that might be needed.  (He's good, but I honestly don't know if he's THAT good.)  Obviously there were no auditions in the spring for the upcoming school year.  If there is no other choir or if there is and he's not selected, then that's it.  His voice will be silenced and a vital part of his school experience will be omitted.  Maybe only for a year, but during this time where everything in life seems so depressing, I can say with certainty that a school year without music is a harsh reality to face.


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