My first few hours at the Choristers Guild Institute at Wingate University can only be described as hectic. My brother and I drove around the entire campus multiple times in search of the registration table. I received a schedule that was full-to-the-brim with courses like Pedagogy, Conducting, Choral Methods, and Vocal Modeling. On top of that, when I got to my room, I realized that when they told us "linens provided," it only included towels and a pillow... no sheets… which necessitated hitching a ride with my suitemate of ten minutes for an impromptu shopping excursion. However, once my bed was made and my suitcase unpacked, I finally had the chance to pause and let the enormity of this experience sink in.
I am a “Year 1," which means I’m in the first year of this 3-year program. I’m struck by the difference in the demeanor of the Year 1s compared to the Year 2s and 3s. They laugh, greet one another with hugs and list each other’s talents in casual conversation. We are more tentative and seem to be in a constant state of quasi-confusion. However, I know that we Year 1s will learn and grow together and I can only hope that we will be the ones laughing and hugging at the start of next year’s institute.
At the end of this intensive 3-year program, I will earn the Choristers Guild “Certified Director of Young Singers” Certification. But that is years away. Right now, I need to focus on the task at hand – be a sponge! I need to soak up everything that this gifted faculty offers, exchange ideas and resources with other participants, and write everything down so that no idea, activity or new teaching method gets lost in the deluge of information coming my way.
I find myself surrounded by accomplished musicians who are all dedicated directors of young singers. Most of them are part-time or full-time church employees with numerous music degrees. I am in awe of the talent that is represented at this Institute. In such company, it is easy for me to wonder, "But what do I have to bring to the table?"
Yet those voices of self-doubt are quickly silenced when I am reminded that this is not about me. God has a purpose for me in this place. God will undoubtedly use my experiences, gifts and talents in new and unexpected ways during my time here to fulfill that purpose. The talented people around me are passionate about engaging children in worship through music. These people are here to support me, encourage me, and equip me with the tools I need to be the best Carol Choir Director I can be. These people know the sign language for “I’ve Got Peace Like a River." These are my people.
I think I’m gonna like it here!