Battle Hymn of the Choir Mom

I’ve been singing with my church choir for about four years now. This year, thanks to a supervised walking program from her school to our church, the Pumpkin was able to join the kids choir.


Choir is challenging for me and I’ve been singing for ages. It is really challenging for her. For example, this past Sunday they sang Bis Du Bei Mir. It’s Bach. It’s in German. She’s 10.

Naturally, committing to practice and/or service twice a week is also difficult. When she’s medicated, she’s perfectly accepting of her responsibilities. When she’s off, she’d rather play or loaf or watch TV, really anything other than what we’d like her to do. Unfortunately, she’s off during those times when she has to get ready to go and it’s like pulling teeth to get her going.

Is choir required? No.

So, I am faced with a challenge. Letting her walk away is not so easy.

She struggles academically, understandably, so extra curricular activities are going to give her a much needed boost. Knowing how to read music (it’s a formal music curriculum-based program) is going to be essential for her to get into either of the performing arts high schools here in Philly. Our pickings are very slim so I don’t want to eliminate any options if we don’t have to. Already Masterman, an excellent high school, is out of the question. At 10, she doesn’t really understand that she has to consider her future in her behavior today. I understand. At 10, I didn’t either.

Then, there is her natural talent. She sings constantly. She rocked the Bach including all the German pronunciations. I wish I could sing like her. With proper training, she is going to be phenomenal. And this is not mom-talk. I am not the sort of mom that keeps all the art projects just because. I am the mom that asks if she really put 100% into her work. I make her throw away crappy projects. I am a tough critic (poor kid). I have this instinctive feeling that she’s too good to just let her walk away because she doesn’t feel like going to practice because it’s a challenge. I believe that she will evolve into a wonderful singer and there is no other way, with our current budget constraints that we can provide anything close to this caliber of music instruction.

But choir is not required. All I have to go on is my personal experiences and my mom instinct.

I have always loved to sing but I have extreme stage fright so choirs have always been a safe way to sing without drawing too much attention to myself. I’ve been in a choir from kindergarten through college, taking a few years off before ending up at my church. I’ve only walked away once, when I was pregnant, from singing in a choir. But, I never sang complicated things until high school. The Pumpkin is singing incredibly challenging pieces in languages she’s never heard before. She’s intimidated. She gets discouraged. She’d rather sing Disney. But she also doesn’t realize how well she’s doing and she doesn’t believe me when I tell her.

But choir is not required and is it worth stressing her out? It’s impossible to make her hate singing since she constantly sings but many an adult live their entire lives without formal music training.

But giving up on something just because one would rather stay at home and loaf isn’t a good life practice either. She needs to face challenges and not give up just because a little work is involved. She needs to learn to combat the tendency to bail on things that become routine or need practice.

So, I am faced with a dilemma. Do I stand my ground or let her go?


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