I would like to respond to letter from the OHS school system regarding the OMS choir program.
Make no mistake. The OMS choir program has been eliminated. It has been replaced with a musical theater program and they are not the same thing. Choir, as a vocal music program, feeds into musical theater. To quote a friend of mine, “Theater and Music need to be taught separately as there are fundamentals of both that are too vast to cover in a joint class.”
When you’re stating the students will be taught site (sic) reading, you’re already displaying a lack of general knowledge of any musical background. The term is sight-reading because it’s the first time you see the music. Sight-reading is done in both band and choir every time a new piece of music is attempted. In choir, it helps to know solfège to properly train the ear for singing music with which you’re unfamiliar.
When I was a student at OJHS in 1980-1982, drama was an elective offered. Choir was also offered. Some students had both those electives. My electives were band and choir. I continued to take those two electives all the way through until my graduation from OHS in 1986. The choir training I received in junior high (middle school) allowed me to be an asset in the choir program at the high school level.
I am a strong proponent of the arts. I believe that a musical theater class is a great elective, but so is choir. Both electives should be offered. There are students who will prefer choir because they don’t have an interest in acting. There will be students who are tone deaf who will never be able to sing in tune. A musical theater class, instead of giving students an opportunity to learn more about choir and theater, will end up alienating two types of talent. The end goal should be to encourage all types of talent because there are students who excel in band, but have either no interest or no talent in singing.
The fine arts are each very specialized. I was pursued at the college level by both the vocal and instrumental music programs. I could not paint you a picture despite having a mandatory art class in junior high. What is being offered in lieu of a choir is theater. It’s the difference between me playing my saxophone and me painting you a picture of it. While both lovely and very worthwhile pursuits, they are simply not the same.
Suzanne M. Hemond