In July, I had the honor of traveling to Picfest with Cantamus as a chaperone. When I raised my hand to assist with trip, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for our girls to not only get to know each other better and prepare in a small way for the rigors of someday traveling in a group to tour Europe, but also a chance for them to network with other dedicated young women choristers from around the US and Canada. It would be a great setting to witness sisterhood through bonding as a group but to also gain appreciation for how other choirs operate, and to be exposed to different conducting and musical techniques.
In the end, I was amazed at the full extent of education these girls received in all aspects of life. Not only did the experience of Picfest fulfill the requirements mentioned above, but provided life long impact as it relates to development of the whole person. Our girls were exposed to unique ways of using their voices and breathing to make sounds. They were inspired by Dr. Ramsey who infused the ethic that hard work can be fun, and to not settle for “mediocrity” in singing or in life. She inspired the girls to think about their unique potential and to view set backs and difficulty in new ways. She encouraged them to channel thoughts and energy towards healthy outlets of singing, writing music or poetry, and of viewing themselves as composers and singers in an empowered way.
Aside from the lessons. These girls worked very hard with many hours of rehearsal. This fatiguing schedule created mental “toughness” so that their tolerance of rehearsing for hours and keeping energy levels and focus up was practiced everyday. You won’t find one girl in Cantamus who would say
otherwise, that they walked away with a stronger focus and ability to withstand physical and mental demands and that the experience of singing in a huge group of almost 200 inspired them personally to seek similar experiences in the future. The girls interspersed fun in getting to know each other better with time to meet and befriend girls in other choirs. They sang with the Bellevue Girls’ Choir on the train to Portland and now consider the Canadian choir to be “so much more like us than we thought”. In addition, they shared their gift of singing with a trip to a local retirement community where one of the chorister’s grandparents resided, granting them the pride and feeling of helping the community with their talents. They were very well received and thanked!
To hear the girls from Picfest state that it was one of the best experiences in their lives and that they “will never give up SGC now” makes it all worthwhile. I am so grateful for being a part of this wonderful group of young women who made me proud with their behavior and camaraderie with each other and in the larger choral community. This experience was truly one that will change their lives forever and give them a strong foundation of what it feels like to work hard and to be rewarded for those efforts. Experiences such as Picfest inspire and motivate the girls to continue learning and
developing as powerful, unique individuals that contribute their individual gifts to something larger than just their own choir.