It's that time of the year again...
The time of the school year when students decide whether or not to audition for spots in advanced performing arts classes in Band, Choir, Dance and Orchestra. It's also the time of year when students decide whether to continue with classes in the performing (or, visual) arts, or to opt out for something else.
I've lived this many times over. I've seen many great singers leave vocal music programs.
Why is this?
Why would a choir student who has been awarded solos in choir performances decide to walk away from an activity in which they excelled to the highest level? I compare this to the quarterback of the football team just walking away from the sport. Do we ever see that happen? Have these talented singers just grown tired of singing? In an unscientific estimation, I would say that if a student earned a solo on a concert, that student is at least in the top 20% of singers in their choir. Why would anyone in the top 20% of anything walk away from it? Would an all conference Shortstop walk away from baseball?
This is the tough question. The one even parents don't want to answer or tackle. I get it. It's a difficult thing. My school district has experienced some amazing success in sports during the last decade. We have also seen a strong push for academic rigor and many students are taking more and more AP courses. When you have both of those things, enrollment in the Arts will suffer. The athletes become our local heroes. Everyone wants to be a part of that. I get it. I was a part of that as I was Shortstop on the baseball team and Quarterback of the football team when I was in High School. This takes me back to the title of this blog entry.
As parents, we need to be more honest with our children. And frankly, also with ourselves. If your child is second string on the sports team and has also earned a solo on a concert in their music class, you need to consider the fact that there is a very real possibility that your child is more talented in music than sports! If that is the case, or if there is even a remote possibility that might be the case, it's time to step up and make the RIGHT decision for your child and keep them in their Performing Arts class! As mentioned earlier, I was a starter in sports, but I eventually realized I was better at music. When I was 12, I wanted to play Shortstop for the Detroit Tigers! When I was 17, I wanted to play drums or sing in the band, Journey! Despite this change of attitude, I led the team in home runs my senior year! Sports + music = great!
We're too busy...
Middle School Performing Arts classes only require students to commit to about four evenings per year. That is NOT a big commitment. When you consider the brain development and the creativity involved in participating in a Performing Arts class, it should be a logical decision that it might be OK for your child to miss a few innings of a baseball/softball game in order to participate in a concert they've been working on for seven weeks. After all, we are all here to make our children better people, and it's scientifically proven that music classes can help accomplish that.