Define “opportunity.”

I’m still dwelling in the afterglow of Torch This! from two weeks ago (and if you think the topic is getting old, too bad: we’re about to do an encore and then some), and within that space, I had a remarkable phrase fall out of my mouth and surprise me in a lesson with one of the Torch girls last week:

There is more love for singing than there are opportunities to sing in this world.

Now, the reason this shocked me was that the choral forums I tend to read have always beat the drum of, “why can’t we get kids to sing in choir,” “where are we going to get new choir members,” “where are the men,” etc. School choirs have their own particular problems, not the least of which is the lack of money and support; but beyond that, there’s also talk of community and church choirs drying up for various reasons, including aging choir members that can’t seem to reach young prospects. In other words, the opportunities are out there, but singers aren’t taking advantage of them–either they can’t, or they simply won’t.

But is that true?

Is the world really brimming with opportunities to sing?

I say it depends on what you call an opportunity.

What the women of Torch This! saw was a singing opportunity quite unlike anything offered by the neighborhood choral society, church or karaoke bar: They got to be powerful, dazzling, glamorous stage vamps in a premier venue, expressing themselves with the help of professional musicians in front of a hungry audience. They were working moms, businesswomen, and savvy singles of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds whose desires went beyond singing–they wanted to feel important, unique, beautiful, like they mattered and their own unique beauty mattered in a world full of paper dolls.

That kind of opportunity is hard to come by in a choir that just sings Messiah every year. And several of these girls have already taken what value they could from singing karaoke.

In a world where a singer is only important if they win the big audition on TV, or dress in black and fade into the background of other singers, or sit in a choir loft and sing for a God they may not believe in, there’s got to be something more. If the love of singing is big enough to have thousands of kids line up to audition for Idol and little else, then there needs to be more.


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