A Love Letter to the Junior High Choir

Dear HSE Junior High Choir,

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My husband and I attended your winter concert last night because our niece, Avery, had a solo part and we came to support her. But the moment you all began to sing, I was captured by each of you and found myself supporting every single one of you. 

Junior high can be tough. I remember it well. It’s easy to wish you looked like someone else or had so-and-so’s clothes. Sometimes things are happening at home that make it hard to feel much like singing. But I wish you could see yourselves the way I saw you as you sang. Every single one of you is stunning.

I studied your faces, admired your beautiful variety of skin colors and hair colors, and I smiled at your bravery. Singing in front of other people takes a lot of courage, but you did it anyway. Even if you were nervous, you did what so many people your age are too afraid to do. Keep doing brave things.  

To the handsome guys in the blue sparkly ties, always keep singing. Chicks love musicians. But much more importantly, the world needs more men who are strong enough to make music. Also, just one side note: let your mom take as many pictures as she wants of you in your tie because she will need them when you’re all grown and she can’t attend your school concerts anymore.

To the young ladies who sang, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” you blew us away. Not only are you lovely and talented, your hearts shined so radiantly as you sang. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that my husband was bawling as if you were our own daughters the whole time you were singing. We were so proud of you.  You each have an important voice in this world. Don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise.

To the tall young man on the back row who looks like a young Ryan Gosling, that personality of yours is a gift. You are outstanding. Being outstanding makes you influential, which comes with a lot of responsibility. Some people your age are tempted to use their natural influence to build their own egos or hurt others. But the best way you could possibly use that gift is to build up others, help the quiet people feel included and lead with integrity.

To the young woman who had trouble remembering your lines, I have so been there. But when it happened to me, I got the giggles. You held it together! Speaking in front of people is hard, but you can do hard things. You proved that last night. You need to feel very good about your courage and how you kept going and finished well. And to your friend, who helped you remember… way to support your friend! Girls need to support each other and have each other’s backs. I can’t even tell you how important that is - now and for the rest of your lives.

To the blonde with the adorable braid who sang, “I’ll Be Home,” you were wonderful. I hope you always remember how important home is. We live in a world where some kids do not feel safe in their own homes. Your song made me long for every kid to find safety and love this Christmas.

To the sweet, smiling girl in braces who sang, “Mary, Did You Know?” I just want you to know that the last time I heard that song performed live, the person singing it was the person who wrote the lyrics and professional musicians and singers were backing him up, but I've never enjoyed it more than when you sang it last night. Keep singing with your heart like that. There are lots of great voices in the world, but the heart is where the real magic happens.

To our niece, Avery, the one we originally came to support: Girl. You rock. You smiled the whole time and sang from your heart and we are so blown away by the young woman you are becoming. Keep embracing those natural leadership qualities of yours, even when it’s hard and discouraging. And even when being a leader is less glamorous than singing and more like picking up trash in the halls or helping a new kid find her way around.

Choir, can we talk about “Carol The Bells” for just a minute? That is a very difficult and beautiful song, as were many of the others you sang! They would have challenged college choirs! Way to go! I’m sure you know this, but Mrs. Johnson is a very special teacher and she knows a lot about music. Even more importantly, she cares a lot about music and about each of you. Treasure every class with her.

I could go on all day talking about all the things you did well, but I will leave you with this: nights like last night are crucial for our community. They are like a big group hug, reminding us that there is so much hope for the future of our world. Thank you for being brave and giving us the wonderful gift of music.




Emily SutherlandComment