My tongue is in my hand…

He’s a little Amadeus and a little Mr. Holland

Posted on: February 26, 2009

My high school chorus teacher just joined facebook and I think I have been more excited about that than I have about anyone else I have seen on there. Mr. Boyce is a key player in not only one of the significant parts of my life, but also in the significant parts of so many other people’s lives.

It’s because of the way chorus was not just a class, but a group, a privilege, a family. Sure, there were some kids who just kind of ended up in concert choir every once in a while because it showed up on their schedule, but most of the people chose to be in choir. Many of us chose to be in choir as many periods out of the day as we were allowed. I think I took two chorus classes a year 10-12th grades. (So that means I sang a good amount of material more than once 🙂

The thing is, choral music matters to Mr. Boyce. And we mattered to Mr. Boyce. And Mr. Boyce had a way about him that let us know that while he would tolerate all our high school silliness to a certain degree, he was not really interested in his students not being interested in choral music. Mr. Boyce made it matter to us.

Mr. Boyce had little eccentricities that made him funny, firmness that made him respected, and genuine interest in your well being that made him someone you wanted to keep spending time in class with. Mr. Boyce worked every way he could to help us sing well and to get us to want to sing well. We buzzed our lips and repeated tongue twisters and made hand gestures to mimic sounds and laid in the dark all in the name of good diction, harmonies, and general musicianship. We sang Latin. We sang Oldies. We sang Zulu. We sang Christmas Carols. Sometimes we had to sway. Sometimes someone dressed up like Rudolph. Sometimes we wore beach clothes and sunglasses. Being part of chorus was being part of something. Former students came back to visit on a regular basis. We competed and took trips and bought videos of performances and had chorus t-shirts. Mr. Boyce read us essays of past student’s testaments to let us know, hey, this is a good thing, you better recognize it!

Being part of Patriot Singers was an honor, but I was most attached to Advanced Women’s Ensemble. Maybe because I was in it three years. We did so much more than sing. We had a lock in, a bake sale, t-shirts, breakfasts, secret santa and a decorated ficus tree, fast food hang outs after school, and gave out awards at the end of the year (we came up with one for everyone). It was fun and even though it wasn’t the whole class doing those things, those things were there, making us more than a class. More than that, there were a lot of hugs and tears and friendships, and some drama (I mean, it was a class of high school girls…) and we had competitions, that meant ROAD TRIPS. I remember cramming like 5 of us into a phone booth in Virginia beach for like an hour because we were cold (and crazy?)

Mr. Boyce laid the foundation for the legacy that was choir at Independence. No one outside of choir may have gave a crap about it, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the way it shaped those of us who did. Those of us who were moved by making music, by creating with our classmates a sound that was bigger than any of us individually, by being lifted away from our individual concerns and focuses and pulled into a song, if only for the span of a class period at a time, even a song at a time. Making music with others is a powerful thing, it moves something in you, shapes something new.

Mr. Boyce cultivated this place for us, and told us he was doing so. It wasn’t a big secret that he was pulling us into the music, he insisted upon it. And that’s why it happened. And that’s why he had former students come back to school during performances so they could walk up to the the risers and sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”. Because choral music matters to Mr. Boyce. And we matter to Mr. Boyce. So choral music, and Mr. Boyce, matter very much to us.

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3 Responses to "He’s a little Amadeus and a little Mr. Holland"

Facebook is getting more and more populated with the older folks lately… especially band directors it seems.

Love the reference to Mr. Hollands Opus. I was beginning to think I was the only person in the world who’d ever seen that movie. 🙂 Great story becca.

I am humbled once again as I read again this day your wonderful essay! Think of you fondly and wishing you God’s blessings on you and yours! Thanks so much Becca! You are truly a very special lady! 🙂

I’m glad you came back to read it again!

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