Last night I sat there while forty-five 8th graders from all over Baltimore County each received about three minutes to go through a dry run. In a little less than three months they will all vie for only 16 spots in the Vocal Music Prime Program at the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology. (By that time, way more than 45 will have applied for the class.) They either came prepared with some music they have been working on, or simply vocalized with the Music Department Chair Evan Walker leading them through it.
A little more about Mr. Walker in a second, but it was fascinating and inspiring to watch. If you ever want to truly see what makes each person on this planet unique, then watch them sing, or better yet watch more than 40 of them sing in one night. Each child had their own unique ability, style and challenges. Nobody was perfect and that’s cool, because why should they be, they’re all still in their early teens, finding their way and finding their voice. As Walker said it’s all about education: “education is changed behavior”. It’s the reason these aspiring singers and vocalists want to be in this class, to learn to get better. Few of us are born perfect, but if you work at it, you can become perfect at your craft, if you practice you can take your unique talent to places you might never have imagined.
My own daughter Sophie was among the 40+ in the group who performed and she did great, not perfect, but I’m perfectly proud of her for doing it. It wasn’t easy for any of these teens, many of whom had never performed solo in front of a group. I didn’t post video of Sophie’s performance here, because at 13 years of age, if she doesn’t like it, I’m toast. 🙂 We’ll wait for the real audition in January.
But let me just say this about the Evan Walker who ran last night’s program. Phenomenal. Talk about being born to do something, about tapping into your talent, and using it to help other people, in this case to educate them. The man has music in his brain, heart and soul. He knew every song, could play the music on the piano as soon as it was put in front of him and gave such tremendous constructive criticism, with just the right amount of humor, instruction and education for all present. Just a few of his lines:
“Prolonging the vowel is at the center of singing”
“You should have a high, open unmoving chest”
“Keep a level head when you sing, or you will get old person wobble”
“It’s the strangest thing, but short people sing high, tall people sing low”
“The way you inhale is the way the audience will hear you”
“Don’t raise your head on the high notes, you choke your own throat”
“Quality is not measured in decibels, but it (the song) is not beautiful if no one can hear it”
I’ve never seen three hours go so fast. It’s not easy to explain because you really had to sit in the room and live it. But the talent and passion the man possesses was palpable. It was pure joy.
I’m going to reach out to him by e-mail, but if anyone who follows this blog knows Mr. Walker, let him know I would love to feature him as part of the Sunday Series. Watching someone born to do what they do, is inspiration in its purest form. Thank you Mr. Walker for the experience and thanks to every voice who bravely got up and let us be part of your blossoming talent.
It was simply sensational.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.