Choir concerts don’t usually make me emotional. Ok, actually, that may not be true. Sometimes it doesn’t take much at all for me to get tears in my eyes. And that’s totally embarrassing for my kids. My girls still tease me about sobbing during Ramona and Beezus. But that’s another story.
Rachel had a high school choir concert the other night. Three choirs performed – one of them was an advanced choir that requires an audition, then there were the women’s ensemble and men’s ensembles, which don’t require an audition and are mostly for freshmen and people who haven’t ever sung in a choir before.
Since she’s a freshman, Rachel is in the women’s ensemble. So during last week’s concert, there she stood in the middle of the stage, in the front row of fifty young ladies. Over to the side, Anna sat in her wheelchair, her mouth opened in joy, her head leaning back tilting her face toward the sky, her legs stretched out. Every now and then, she would make a loud noise along with the other girls, adding in her joyful voice to the songs. Anna loves to sing. Mixed in among the other girls’ voices, we could also hear a loud, nasally voice often a beat or syllable behind the rest of the choir – another special needs girl who loves to sing and happily belted out every song from her soul. Two other developmentally disabled young ladies did not participate in the concert, but they come to class each day. One of those girls is nonverbal, but she loves music. Rachel tells me that when they sing in class, this girl smiles and nods her head and is happy; but when they stop singing, sometimes this girl screams until they start singing again. She is the biggest fan of the rest of the choir!
I love this. I love that there is a choir that doesn’t require an audition that these girls can be a part of. And I love that the rest of the girls love and accept and wholeheartedly welcome these girls to the group. Following the teacher’s lead, my daughter and the other girls realize that they aren’t just tolerating the special needs girls’ presence, they are benefitting from the inclusion of these four young ladies.
On the ride home from the concert, Rachel detailed all the ways those girls contribute to the class. She told of their sweet personalities, their love of music, their pure joy when listening to every song. For a perfectionist kid like Rachel, it’s good to have a daily reminder that singing is primarily about a joyful overflow of the heart.
I wish you all could have seen Anna during that concert. Her face was beaming with absolute joy. When my kids do the things they do – play sports, write poems, sing in choirs, perform in plays — I want them to do it with the Anna-kind of joy. I want their things, their activities, to feed their souls the way music obviously feeds Anna’s soul.
All of us need to be a part of something that makes us so filled with joy that we tilt our heads back, open our mouths in a big smile and beam toward heaven. When was the last time you felt that kind of joy?