BY SHELBY RUSHER
As a member of the Winston-Salem Youth Chorus for ten years, I had thrilling opportunities that are keepsakes I will cherish forever. I joined the Chorus at age eight and was very excited to have the opportunity to be in the opera Street Scenemy first year as a member. I fell in love with this art form. Singing became more than just an extracurricular activity for me; it became my passion.
I have such a respect for music and the people who share it. The Winston-Salem Youth Chorus is much more than a chorus. It is a place you meet extraordinary people who will become lifelong friends. It is life-changing, because you not only make beautiful music, you learn teamwork, collaboration, confidence, poise, and attention to detail, unlike any other extracurricular activity. Teamwork is essential in chorus because everyone has to be completely in sync to make the magic of music occur. I learned how to read music proficiently, which enabled me to work with professionals to help me constantly improve my skills as a young singer.
Before I joined the chorus, I sang in the shower and around my family, mostly to Disney music. After becoming a member of the Youth Chorus, I was able to sing important musical works, in many different languages, in front of hundreds of people, with professionals, in operas, in a foreign country and in various cities across the country.
Bradley Jiang is a rising eighth-grader and has been a member of the Chorus for four years. Our time as members overlapped, and in talking with Bradley, I learned he had had similar positive experiences. The Youth Chorus gave him the opportunity to be in Piedmont Opera’s South Pacific,in the role of the young boy. Jiang said, “This role gave me a new sense of confidence, because performing in front of over a thousand people was intimidating at first, but once I accomplished that, I felt like I could do anything.” He now reads music with ease, plays the flute and piano, has been in two operas with the Piedmont Opera and has traveled to Austria with the Chorus. He also mentioned that he has met so many new, interesting kids from all over the triad. He said he is thankful that the Youth Chorus is as multi-cultural as it is and brings so many different types of youth together.
Whether your child is a shower singer like I was, or thinks he or she is destined for Broadway, the Winston-Salem Youth Chorus is a great organization to join. It has helped me as an undergraduate at Auburn University, studying public relations and business. I know being in this organization for ten years shaped me into being an outgoing, caring individual who will always have a special place for music in my world.