VOICES: There’s a New Girl in Choir

Senior Mya Hall can sing but as a transfer student wanting to join T.C. Williams’ advanced choir, she had to get past an audition with Choir Director Theodore Thorpe, an ordeal she describes as tense and scary.

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– [Mya Hall] Last year, my mom told me I had the decision to stay in Great Mills, Maryland or to move with her to Alexandria ’cause my stepfather was in the military. So, I’ve always lived with my mom so I decided to move here. So I moved here and I heard TC Williams had a great choir.

– [Theodore Thorpe] In the summer time, I will talk to counselors, and counselors will say, “Oh, I have this student” who wants to join choir, join chorus, “and they say they really, really can sing.” And I’m always cautiously optimistic about whether the students can really, really sing ’cause singing in the shower and singing in the classroom are two different things. Mr. Cruise said he had this student that really, really, really sang, and I was like, “Okay, alright, I’ve heard that a thousand times.” But he’s like, “No, she’s saying she really, really can sing.” I said, “Okay, well, send her to the classroom “for a vocal evaluation and”–

– [Mya Hall] So, my mom set up the meeting and I came to the classroom, and I met Mr. Thorpe, and I had to do kind of like an audition, and I was really nervous, ’cause he was kinda’ tense, and I was like, “Oh my gosh.” I was terrified.

– [Theodore Thorpe] Um, there she was, she popped up for the vocal evaluation. We went through a few vocaleezes, we went through a few scales, few listening exercises, and pretty much said that you have the skills to be a part of the advanced choir.

– [Mya Hall] At first, it was really like, it was really scary being in a room where it was just so disciplined, and I just kind of felt like everyone in the room was better than me, but in a way that kind of pushed me to make, you know, to improve myself.

– [Theodore Thorpe] Slowly but surely, coming in as a transfer student into a brand new environment for your junior year, when you’ve had all this experience in Maryland and at this school where she was from. It can be nerve wracking, and you know, but it was a good thing for you because you saw the passion in all the other students, you saw how hard they wanted it, how hard they worked, and that’s really what we preach everyday is work ethic over talent over anything else, and discipline, because discipline is 95 percent of what it takes to be successful. And you have blossomed over the last year and a half, and now you’re serving as the section leader as well as vice president of the choir, so you’ve really fit in naturally because of your personality and the way you rub off on others, that’s not easy to do. And that’s a natural gift that in many ways is underrated because what choir does is it forces you to be in positions outside of your comfort zone. You’re not at your own cubicle, you’re not at your own desk. You have to interact with people who don’t look like you, maybe not from the same background, culture, ethnicity, all for a common purpose, and I think you fit pretty seamlessly. With any student who’s coming into a program, there was some areas of challenge in terms of sight-singing, where she had to grow but because of the leadership that was in the section, she was able to grow and learn at a quick pace, and what it does is it develops their leadership qualities pretty quickly, they have to grow up pretty quickly. And so, she knew she was gonna have to step up to the learning curve quick, quickly, very quickly. So, the natural gift and talent was there. Now she just had to put the talent with the musicianship and the work ethic, and that’s what has blossomed into being an effective leader right now.

– [Mya Hall] As like a mentor, he’s just pushed me, like breath support, I’ve grown so much. Sight-singing, I’ve grown so much. In all these different places, they just add to my musicianship, and it’s just made me grow as a performer.

– [Theodore Thorpe] That’s what the beauty of teaching is, is it’s about growth and learning, always has been it for me, more than any accolade or any type of achievement, it has always been about growth and learning, is what we value here, and watching an individual come to this program as a brand new student or as a freshman and then watching them bud and grow into who they’ve been destined to become, and music is just a vehicle that guides them to that, to their destiny.

– [Mya Hall] My hope is to go to VCU Arts for their undergrad program in musical theater, possibly minor in political science or Spanish. And my goal is to make it big, like, my goal is to end up on Broadway. You know, pursuing my dreams. I’m not here just to, ya’ know. Maybe I can do it, maybe I can’t. I wanna’ do it. I’m gonna do it.

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