For students only

Dear Chamber Choir and Evolution Choir 2020-2021

Welcome back to another incredible year of music at Magee. This will be a year unlike any other before or any other again. It is a year that will challenge our resilience and our creativity and our resolve, but when we get through it, we will know what we are made of as people. Life has a way of putting challenges in front of us and we either thrive or we shut down and we need to choose what kind of person we want to be. This year will highlight the fact that we are truly in charge of our own destinies. Yes there are factors that are beyond our control, however if we can be flexible and aware of everything going on around us, we will be just fine, and even come out stronger than we even thought we could be. I know things are uncertain, and that can be daunting and even a little scary, but this is where we ban together and lean on each other for reassurance and strength and support. You are not alone. Your choir family is there for you, as am I. And this is what we must be for each other. Unwavering in our care for each other. Unabashed in our giving of our light to those who need it. This is what it means to be human and to share the human experience with one and other.

“Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine” – Mario Fernandez, Cuban artist who was imprisoned for political dissent by the Castro regime and found his way to US to pursue his painting.

Know that what you do makes a difference in the lives of others. Even in this time. Many people will be thinking of themselves and how to get through this crazy time in history, but this is really the time that we must think beyond ourselves and how we can positively affect change in the lives of others to move forward. We have the unique position of being able to make music. Music that can soothe. Music that can heal. Music that can give hope. It will be different than what you are used to, but just think of it – when you watch a movie, how does the music change the experience of watching that film? When you are sad, what kind of music do you listen to – how does it make you feel when you do listen to it? When you hear a certain song that pumps you up and makes you want to dance crazily around your kitchen singing at the top of your voice, why is that? Music has that ability to bring us to a different place, to transport us to an alternate reality, and to change our mood or to dive deeper and give more meaning to what we are experiencing.

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams” – Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

I don’t know if any of you watched the Netflix documentary about Michael Jordan and the Bulls entitled “the Last Dance”, but in it there were some very strong take aways. I have always been a huge MJ fan and whenever I need a boost of inspiration, I watch one of his videos – I’ve always done this because I so admire his work ethic and philosophy of excellence. But one of the most poignant things I got from this last documentary was that it is all about being present in the moment. At this time, more than any other, this statement really applies. We can not live in our past – what we used to do and what came before can not happen. We can not live for the future, for it is very uncertain at this moment. All we have is the present time. What we do with each moment, each second, shapes who we are. The present is all we have and we decide how we want to live it and thus, our character is formed by it. We can choose to live in fear. We can choose to quit and give up. We can choose to let everything happen to us. Or we can choose to face things and refuse to let the world stop us from getting what we want to achieve. We can choose to find a way, a safe way, of navigating these waters. We can choose to become better and stronger in the face of adversity and live an inspired life. We can choose to help others to achieve these things too and lead in such a way that inspires others to do so as well. Life is about choices and those choices define us and define our lives. We have control of NOTHING except ourselves. Just as no one has control over us except us. We choose our path and what we want to make of ourselves and how we use our time. Time. The most precious thing in the world is time. Time can not be bought. Can not be stopped. And once a minute is over, it is gone forever. No do overs. No rewind. What is said can not be taken back and what has been done can not be undone. For better or for worse, once a moment is gone it is gone and you have to ask yourself how did you use that moment – to better yourself and the people around you or was it wasted or did you make someone’s life worse?

“the Key to immortality is first to live a life worth living” – Bruce Lee

Know that most every situation is temporary – you will get through it eventually. The road may be long and wrought with challenges, but if you have someone to help you through it, to be your beacon, it will make the journey less difficult. There may be times that you may feel like things are hopeless or times when the weight of the world seems too great – those are the times to lean on the people who you know have your back, the people who truly love you, the people who you trust the most to get you through it. And you will get through it. Close your eyes. Take a breath. Find your center. Visualize a positive outcome. Then open your eyes and carry on. You can do it. You can take charge of your life. You can be the one who says, this is not how it’s going to end and then do something about it. The biggest questions are not why or what, the biggest question is how. How are we going to do this together? How are we going to find a way to succeed? How can we find a solution to our problem? How invites action and does not stall. You will find a way if you truly want to – in any situation. Sometimes you may need some help. Often you will need some patience. Most assuredly you will need to bolster your inner strength and find resilience from within. But if you can do those things, nothing can stop you from achieving your goals or getting through the most difficult times in your life. And through it all, if you look to the music, understand the phrase, delve deeper into the text, this too can bring you peace and a better understanding of yourself. Choir is not simply a place for you to sing and to learn how to sing – it is a place of self-discovery. It is a place for you to find out what you are truly made of and who you are as a person. The experience you have here is up to you. I will give you guidance and a framework, you must provide the rest and you will learn what kind of person you are and what kind of person you want to be. What your work ethic is. What your character is. What you will do when things get difficult and what you will do when faced with adversity. What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of friend do you want to be? What is the legacy that you want to leave? What do you want to be remembered for and as?

Whatever is going on inside you, will be transparently displayed on the outside. If you are passionate and dedicated to your art, that will come through your art. If you are open and vulnerable and humble, that will come through your art. If you are arrogant and think you’re superior, that will come through your art. If you are unsure of yourself and unprepared, it will come through your art. If you are unwilling to do what is necessary to create beauty, that will come through your art. You see, what we are, how we do, and what this choir will become is dependent on every single one of you. If one person succeeds, we share in that, learn from it, and we all succeed. If one person doesn’t know their part or their text or they don’t sing with their heart, then we all suffer. For yes, while each of you brings something unique to this group, and that is your story to tell, your experiences to share, and your thoughts and feelings to connect to each other with, we are unequivocally linked to each other – if one of us fails, we all fail, but when we succeed, when we change lives, when we create beauty unmatched, we do so together. For this is a place where you can not only create life long friends, but also a place where we can create a family, a choir family where we share a vision and we help each other, support each other, and achieve together.

And above all else, practice gratefulness. The more grateful we are, the happier we will be. There is no truer statement than that. Look around you. Be always humble. Find something to appreciate in every moment and situation, no matter how difficult it is. We are so lucky to be here doing what we love being surrounded by people who can support us and bring us to new heights. Show care and practice acceptance, even to those who may try to bring you down – for 9 times out of 10, when someone is mean to you, it’s not about you at all, its something going on inside of them. Do things with intention. Plan ahead. Be grateful and practice gratefulness everywhere you can. And choose to live an extraordinary life – it may take more work and effort to do so, but in the end, it will be a life worth living. These are all things we will explore throughout the year. Enjoy the process and believe in yourself and believe in this choir, for I believe in you. Let us together make this year extraordinary!

One Choir, One Sound.