Learn about MMA choir from Choir Director and Vocal Music Instructor Christina Stout.
Stout has been a freelance musician for more than 25 years. Prior to MMA, she was an elementary school music teacher. She holds a master’s degree in education from Northwest Missouri State University and a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Missouri as well as a performer’s diploma from Jacobs School of Music.
In her free time, she frequently performs in local operas and musicals.
Why is it important for cadets to have exposure with auditions and competitions such as this?
Auditions and competitions provide cadets with myriad opportunities to grow both as musicians and as young men. The process of preparing for an audition or contest fosters growth to one's work ethic, discipline, and time management. Cadets must set goals and give their best effort to accomplish them. The audition or competition itself is a high-stakes environment which requires that cadets learn how to remain calm and composed under pressure.
In most situations, comments or constructive criticism are provided by highly qualified adjudicators, so cadets are given the opportunity to grow and improve even after the audition has taken place. Of course, in situations where an audition or competition does not go well, cadets also have the opportunity to deal with disappointment, accept negative results, and regroup with a new plan to improve next time.
How do you help prepare cadets for auditions?
Selecting music and then learning and perfecting it for performance is a lengthy process. First, we set goals for the rating (or result) the cadet hopes to achieve, and then we spend time figuring out which pieces will best showcase the cadet's voice to help them accomplish the goals set. Finally, we work on learning the notes, pronunciation of text, and the expression and musicality of the piece. Once it is learned, we spend time memorizing and perfecting the music. During the final stages, I often record the cadets and then ask them to judge their own performances as they believe the adjudicator will judge them. Often, they learn a great deal by simply sitting back and listening to themselves.
Why should cadets consider choir? How does it enhance their academic and character development?
From an academic standpoint, choir provides a great deal of cross curricular integration. Performing choral music requires mathematical skills, language skills, and physical fitness. Through the lyrics of the songs, cadets also learn about history, foreign languages, and world cultures. Reading and performing music of any sort is cognitively challenging and requires a great deal of discipline, work ethic, and cooperation. Not only is it fulfilling and often therapeutic to create music, but the skills required to do so transfer to many other disciplines, as well.
What advice do you have for cadets who are thinking about choir but haven’t participated before?
I believe there is a place for everyone in choir, so don't be afraid to give it a try. Not only do we have a lot of fun, but we work hard and create beautiful art together.