Should the Aspiring Pop or Musical Theater Singer Do High School Choir?

Tales from the front . . .

  • A High School choir director enters the room and asks the students, “How many of you like country music? How many of you like musical theater? How many of you like pop, etc.?” Of course many singers raise their hands. He then goes on to eviscerate them on their choices.

  • A High School student who was trained with one of the hand picked voice teachers by the choir director decides to switch courses and study with a more commercial teacher who affects a profound change in her voice. Upon hearing it, the choir director rescinds an invitation to perform at the senior recital.

  • A High School choir director brings in a commercial voice teacher to teach his students. They dominate the leads in the musicals and go on to major musical theater programs and to leads in Broadway shows and touring companies.

What do they all have in common? Nothing and everything.
A High School choir director has a lot of influence over young singers. Sometimes it is good, sometimes not.
In the case of the aspiring non-classical singer with an erudite conductor, it is negative. In the case of an open-minded pragmatic director, it is positive.
Young singers that encounter a dogmatic High School director will be confused and not encouraged. Repeatedly hearing negative messages about what the student likes creates self-doubt, vocal identity crisis, and does a disservice to the student.
Young singers who encounter a more open minded, progressive choir director will become more adaptable to the demands of a fluid vocal world. They will succeed and reflect positively on the choir director. That director did not present a roadblock but a bridge to success because it was pragmatic and empowering.
With being said, why does the first type of choir director still exist? Frankly, it’s psychological. They are Barney Fife, ruling over their fiefdom and shaming students into thinking that anything that they disagree with is almost morally wrong. The second type of director is empowering. I will help the student achieve what their goals are and I will be open minded and pragmatic enough to use the means available to do that. Their success is a reflection on what I could do to help them.
The bottom line on this is for the singer, and the parent of the singer, to make accurate assessments of the particular director. See if the director advocates goals that align with yours. If they do, then by all means go with the program. If not, run far away; there are other avenues to achieve your success.

Randy Buescher

Randy Buescher is an internationally recognized expert in non-classical vocal technique. He is also well known as a clinician, author, vocal therapist, and researcher. His clients include stars of major Broadway productions, touring companies, and high profile Chicago companies. He has also worked with artists from virtually every major record label and stars of various network television shows. His clients have won Tony Awards, Dove Awards, Emmys, have been nominated for Grammies, and been American Idol finalists. Based out of Chicago, Randy works a large number of clients and is not only degreed in Music and Mass Media Communications (from DePaul University), but also degreed in Communication Disorders from Governor State University. He has presented, or been a speaker for the Voice Foundation, NATS, Naras, and the Broadway Theatre Project, along with various universities, high schools and other institutions. Randy was recently recruited to be the Singing Voice Specialist at the Chicago Institute for Voice Care at the UIC Medical Center in Chicago. You can learn more about him at