Last week, the lights dimmed and a hush fell over a large crowd of parents gathered behind me in Success Academy Williamsburg’s auditorium. Fifty middle schoolers walked down the aisles and processed to the stage, singing “Seed to Sow,” a song about making an impact on the world, in perfect harmony. Across the auditorium, I saw parents faces light up with proud smiles.
Three months of hard work — Sunday rehearsals at SA Union Square and practicing notes at home — had lead to this moment for the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade members of the Success Academy Youth Chorus, which I direct with Ms. Willey. Our 50 scholars come from across the network and for many, the chorus was their first time singing with a group. We began with auditions in September to find raw talent: scholars who were able to sing on pitch, echo a musical pattern we gave them, and really sell their audience on the song.
It’s been incredible to watch them develop as a group. In the beginning, they struggled with two-part harmonies. But a few weeks in, we had a breakthrough and came together in perfect harmonization. I watched their eyes light up with excitement as they realized that their hard work was paying off — and discovered the joy of a perfect harmony.
Ms. Willey and I have also been so grateful for the commitment of our chorus parents. They’ve travelled from the far reaches of Brooklyn and Queens to SA Union Square for two-hour rehearsals every Sunday. They’ve been there to help us assemble and break down chairs, and they always ask how they can support them to practice at home.
Last week’s performance included everything from an upbeat winter holiday medley song (including a reference to — what else? — hot chocolate!), to a Hebrew song of peace that moved some members of the audience to tears.
You can listen to scholars perform the song Shalom Aleichem (Peace Be With You) — and below, you’ll hear from the scholars and parents who made our performance possible.