11 year old daughter being left out of church youth choir

said: Jan 29, 2007
 5 posts

I’m feeling bad for my daughter tonight and was wondering if something like this has happened to your child/children before and what you did about it. My 11 year old has been participating in a church youth choir and has done so for the last 3 or 4 years. The leaders of this group attend the same church as we do and know my family and my daughter well and know that she has studied violin since she was 3 1/2. They have also heard her play and are aware of her capabilities (she’s a book 8 student). We do not brag or make a deal about this fact and have never done so.

The problem is that at practice last week, the daughters of the two directors had their violins and were practicing pieces to accompany the choir. They have never had children to play instruments with this choir in the past. On top of that, neither one of these girls has played violin longer than a year or two. My daughter was not asked to participate for some reason and she was somewhat hurt and offended that she was not included and wonders why she was not asked to play with the other girls. We understand that the whole purpose of being a part of the choir is to honor our Lord, but it appears that there are some very human political games being played that are being used to exclude my daughter (and other children who may play an instrument well and aren’t being given the opportunity to play).

All I can think to do is to ask the directors if my daughter can join the duo to help out since she does want to play. If they say no, they say no and she’ll sing with the choir. Perhaps this is a character building opportunity?

Meg

said: Jan 30, 2007
 21 posts

Maybe the thinking was that since they were at such different skill levels it would not work out well.

If I were you, I would approach it positively. Whoever is in charge of special music at your church should be approached. You could say something like, I’d really like to emphasize to my daughter that the reason she is learning violin is to honor God. Is there a time she could exercise her musical gifts in the church?

I would leave the choir situation totally out of it and go for another time.

I can’t believe she hasn’t been given the opportunity before! Our congregation of 150 or so, is always looking for ways to get the young people involved in service.

My 9-year old played a carol medley at Christmas. She’s only been playing 9 months (although she’s about done with book 2 and plays very well). Other children have played the flute, piano and clarinet.

I hope this was somehow just a misunderstanding, but like it or not, there can be politics and such in any church.

said: Jan 30, 2007
 5 posts

Thanks for your answer. I’m puzzled why they would not want a seasoned player to provide some strength and experience to their duo. It’s done with Suzuki play-ins, so why not in a smaller setting with fewer players?

My daughter has played at Mass at Christmas time and for a First Communion Mass. The main music minister asks for people to play, but it is usually limited to adults who can substitute for him at the organ or for people who play the trumpet for Christmas and Easter masses. He’s a nice guy, but not terribly child-attuned. I have asked if he would be available to accompany my daughter if he wanted her to play her violin, but he says he doesn’t have the time to rehearse with her.

The ladies who direct the children’s choir are good friends and that friendship has led to their children taking lead roles in literally everything the children’s choir does including top billing on programs that are handed out to the people (i.e. “lead singer”, “special assistant to the choir director”, etc.). My daughter has noticed this and generally laughs with me about it because she wants to be a part of the choir. She understands that people are often like this especially where their own children are concerned.

We could go elsewhere, but this is our parish and we want to be a part of it. It’s just a shame that they can’t include more children who are known to have musical gifts. I realize I’ve spent too much time thinking about this, but the reality of things is that communities are not always very encouraging or supportive of their members. It’s a sad testimony for a child.

I will ask about dd participating and I will be positive
:)

Meg

Debbie said: Jan 30, 2007
Debbie MiViolin
138 posts

When I read about your situation, I am struck by some similar things that have happened recently where I live.

One friend of mine, who is a young violinist who is really good (better than a lot of others around), has sometimes gotten to play for things, and sometimes been left out, though she was better than most of the other players in the situation.

She really wittnessed to me. It was as if she didn’t even notice when she got picked to play for things and when she didn’t. She just kept enjoying playing music and being a sweet and supportive friend to the other people and musicians around her.

I was personally struggling with learning how to be on the right track in my own heart about similar issues that were happening to me. She really taught me, though I am an adult and she is in junior high! She just didn’t let any politics affect her, and she really served the Lord by being a wonderful example to me of someone who unconciously was doing the right things for the right reasons -
Honing her gifts, enjoying music, doing the best at it that she could, loving the people around her, and serving with her gifts but not caring about politics. When someone else got picked instead of her, she just smiled and enjoyed that person. When she got picked, she was not even mildly political or cocky about it! I was so amazed because I am so not like that!

Maybe you are being faced with a similar opportunity to witness in this way! :) You never know who is watching your example!

This is not to say you shouldn’t approach the powers at be to let them know that your daughter is available to play for things. Quite the contrary! If they are aware of her, she’ll hopefully get to use her gifts!

Sometimes when I am in situations of planning things, I just don’t notice the people that I don’t see every day (people other than my family members!) Maybe they just accidentaly forgot about her!

Anyway, good luck in figuring this ou!

Rachel Schott said: Jan 30, 2007
Rachel SchottViolin
Harrogate, TN
127 posts

My two cents:

As a teacher the first thoughts that struck me were, firstly if the two players are beginner or near-beginner, adding a third person is asking for disaster. Suzuki method is incredibly unique in this respect and it sounds like your director’s children are not Suzuki students (?)

Secondly, if the choir has never sung with instruments before I can see the directors saying to themselves, “well okay let’s give this a try: with my kids, I know we can practice my way. Plus, if they crash and burn I won’t feel like I just humiliated someone else’s kid.”

said: Jan 31, 2007
 5 posts

It looks like being laid back would be the best approach to this situation. I appreciate the help thinking through this.

Keep us in your prayers and wish us well.

Meg

said: Feb 4, 2007
 16 posts

Golly,
I guess that is why the message board is so popular. I was wondering the same about my ten year old (book 6). In school she is often overlooked. Usually I do not mind, the other children have so few opportunities to shine.

However, the other weekend, her sunday school class lead the service. When practicing for the service, the teacher asked how many children played an intrument and would like to perform. Several children rasied their hand. She teacher then asked them to come prepared to the next practice to show what they could do. Only my daughter showed up with violin in hand, and she was chosen. This meant so much to her to honor G-d through her music.

I think the difference was in school is that even though the teachers know my daughters ablilities, they realize she does stand apart. In order to not “alienate” other children, they play to the average or even below. I have even had past teachers tell me that they don’t want to “hurt” the children’s feelings who do not play an instrument or who are just beginning! It is sad that the same teachers do not realize how inspiring it can be for children to see others their own age do wonderful work, not because they are prodigies, but because they practice. My daughter is often okay with being overlooked, since she has so many venues to shine. I have tried not to make waves challenging a teachers position. I figure it is their loss at not utilizing the gifts that have been offered.

Now, for your case, I would suggest volunteering. Don’t wait for a request. Have your daughter offer, what does she have to lose? If they turn her down, she is no worse off than if she never asked. If they take her up on her offer, she will shine! If they do turn her down, she can look for other oppertunities to play for your church. The opportunities abound, if she really wants to do it. Soon the opportunities will be so vast, she’ll be the one turning them down due to her time restraints.

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