Friday, July 31, 2009

Myths of the Indianapolis Children's Choir

Today I am headed out to the Marion County Fair to man the Indianapolis Children's Choir booth. This will be my second stint, as I was there last Friday as well.

ICC has not participated in any of the county fairs before, but we thought we would try this new venue to get the word out about our various programs.

Taking my place in Expo Hall across from the Culligan Man and his big faucet hanging in mid-air, I spent a few hours talking to folks. Those who are familiar with ICC had only positive things to say. A few alumni even stopped by to chat. Those who were not familiar with us were the ones that I was most interested in talking with, because these people I found had some common misperceptions about this wonderful organization. Here are the top 4:

1.) YOU HAVE TO BE A GOOD SINGER TO BE IN ICC. No, you do not. A child must have the ability to match-pitch. There are very few children who cannot do this. The very core of our mission is music education. ICC will teach them to sing well.

2.) ICC IS ONE BIG CHOIR. ICC is comprised of 19 separate choirs. Some practice on the campus of Butler University, and some practice in their hometown through our regional choir system. There are two Preparatory ensembles, (geared for the younger school-age child in grades 1 - 3), as well as First Steps in Music, a program for 3 to 5 year olds.

3.) THE TUITION COSTS TOO MUCH. ICC is one of the best music education values around. All tuition costs are for two semesters. Here is the breakdown:

Registration fee: $50
Regional choirs: $275
Preparatory Program & campus choirs rehearsing once per week: $365
All campus choirs rehearsing twice per week: $490

There are additional costs for a uniform, as well as the cost of the tickets for the families to see the professional performances that are in ICC's concert season. But the tuition averages to about $10 per rehearsal, which is very competitive for music lessons of any kind! Payment plans as well as financial aid is available.

4.) ICC MAKES THE KIDS TRAVEL INTERNATIONALLY. ICC has a long and proud tradition of touring around the globe, and performing is some of the world's finest venues. However, this is not mandatory. This is a choice each singer makes, and fundraising opportunities are made available to help supplement the cost.

I am getting ready to head off again to the fairgrounds, and in between chatting with my neighbors in Expo hall and running out for a funnel cake, I hope to debunk a few more ICC myths tonight.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Power of Music

I've been somewhat obsessed by the coverage Michael Jackson's passing. I think this is due to the fact that Thriller came out when I was a junior in high school, and it was huge. I remember it playing constantly on MTV, and even before the main attraction when we went to the movies. Then, a chance meeting with Brooke Shields gave me a brief insight into the real Michael Jackson. I grew up in New Jersey, and Brooke attended Peddie, a local private high school. My track team members and I once bumped into her at a track meet Peddie was hosting. As exciting as it was to meet her, we all wanted to know what Michael Jackson was REALLY like. She spoke so warmly about him, that from then on I always thought of him a little differently - as a guy who just really liked to sing.

His contributions to the entertainment industry changed the world. That's the power of music. It can change moods, change minds, and change hearts. The Indianapolis Children's Choir recently held a ceremony for its 2009 graduates. Part of the ceremony involved reading each graduate's answer to the following question: "What does ICC mean to me?" Elizabeth Bain, a six year member of ICC very eloquently said, "ICC means music to me. It is a common joy that flows through each and every one of us and bonds us in ways nothing else could."

Music does bond us. What else could explain all the recent attention on Michael Jackson? We all witnessed the making of one of the biggest stars on earth - brought to us by music.