Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Spring Break - Recruiting for BCC

By: Marlon Matthews, Young Men's Ensemble 
Marlon has been in BCC for 8 years. He is 15 years old. 
Over the week of March break that my sister Allana and I share, we decided to volunteer at BCC Central. We had done this before and were both prepared for simple days of filing, computer work, shredding, or sorting music literature, but Mr. Victoria had more exciting plans for us. On the Friday of our volunteer week, Allana, Mr. Victoria, and I went to the Josiah Quincy School for a recruiting session with elementary level students. The school building is literally across the overpass from BCC, which makes these kids great candidates for BCC because they don’t need transportation!
            The day started off with Allana and I singing 30 seconds of “Lean On Me” into the intercom for morning announcements. This went surprisingly well considering it was 8:30 in the morning and neither of us had warmed up. The real recruiting started at the lunch periods. I can’t remember which grades we met first because they were all so small, a lot smaller than I remember ever being!
            Allana is friendly, but she is more of a commander than a field agent, so she stayed at the recruiting desk with Mr. Victoria while I went out to individuals and told them about what it is like to be in BCC. I wasn’t too worried about recruiting the girls for two reasons. The first, most of them claimed to be the next American Idol, and the second, none of them traveled alone: if one was interested in the table, seven would show up. My main focus was the boys and letting them know that choir is fun and not just for the girls. Among the younger boys, a common response I got was “I like music, but I don’t like to sing,” “I don’t/can’t sing” or “Can I have another free pencil?” I quickly countered that the best part about music is singing, that choir teaches you how to sing, and no, only one free pencil per person. In the end, I was able to convince a significant number of young boys to take audition forms home to their parents so they could at least give it a try before they say they don’t like it. I noticed that the older boys were more stubborn about not participating in choir. Most of them were more into “guy stuff” even if they didn’t play a sport; they thought choirs were for the girls. I was still successful in getting most of the older boys to take audition forms, but some only came to me for a free BCC pencil.

Marlon and Allana recruiting for BCC at Josiah Quincy School in Boston
            As our day came to its end, something dawned on me: “This is what needs to happen on a regular basis.”  BCC needs to go out and recruit for young kids that will stay in choir longer than high school students, who sometimes join Young Men’s Ensemble without participating in training choirs first.  When that happens, they only have a maximum of four years in the choir. I am a freshman now and I have been in BCC since it was dreamt up by Mr. Jones. I have been here for eight years, and my days are numbered. I won’t always be a student at BCC - none of us will. My point is that the choristers (not just the staff) need to seek out the “generation” coming up behind us. We all can admit to the fact that it is easier to trust someone that has experienced whatever it is they are selling. We can also admit to the fact that someone our age is easier to relate to than someone notably older or younger. On that Friday a week ago, I was able to help keep the cycle of BCC going because I could relate to the boys I was reaching out to and I could tell them of my own experiences. I recommend that everyone with more than two years under their belts at BCC should spend a day recruiting during a school break.

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