Annual choir retreat should not be mandatory


Sam Medved

Every year members of the highest level RHS choirs, Advanced Women’s Chorale and Chamber Choir, are required to attend a fall retreat. While it started on Saturday this year, the mandatory trip typically begins after third lunch on a Friday and continues through Sunday. On top of pulling students out of their classes, there is a lofty fee of $90 to attend. Due to the rather unreasonable price and loss of instruction in other classes such a trip should not be a requirement to be part of either ensemble.

It is extremely important to remember that students have five other classes before scheduling any sort of field trip – especially before requiring all students to attend. Choir is an elective course which means that the majority of students have at least three core academic courses in addition to being part of an ensemble. While it may seem necessary to pull students out of class for a trip that focuses on the skills they need for choir, this loss of in-class instruction is extremely detrimental to some people. If someone’s grade is already suffering in a course, he or she really needs to listen to lectures and have opportunities to ask their teacher for help. Preventing these kids from receiving the help they need will only serve to increase their levels of stress. Students should not be required to acquire unnecessary and preventable anxiety because they are forced to attend a choir trip.

It is also important to consider the fact that students have lives outside of school before scheduling a mandatory trip that spans an entire weekend. The majority of students who are in the two highest ensembles are juniors and seniors. This means that these students probably have responsibilities such as jobs to balance with school. Weekends are often one of the easiest times for students to put in a few extra hours at work because they do not have seven hours of school and homework due the next day. By requiring these students to remain at camp for the entire weekend the trip forces students to reschedule all of their prior engagements such as finding someone to cover their shifts. Students devote enough of their time their time to school. They should not be required to give up the short time they have outside of school because one teacher decided to make a camping trip mandatory.

Expecting students to pay $90 annually simply because they were placed in one of the advanced choirs is ridiculous. Not only is the price extremely high, but RHS is a public school. This means that the majority of the school’s funding is a result of tax dollars. Parents are already helping to fund classes. Beyond taxes the only other money that parents should be spending for school should be devoted to school supplies and any extracurricular activities that their child might be involved in. An advanced choir is a class, not an extracurricular, and a choir retreat is definitely not a school supply. Parents should not have to fork out so much additional money simply because their child is a talented musician.

One of the primary arguments in favor of a mandatory retreat is that the trip helps the students bond and learn how to work together as a team. Technically they would be correct, but the members of a choir are working together daily to achieve the same goal. Choir students have to communicate as a group in class everyday to read and perform choral literature. The students are going to learn how to communicate and work together regardless of whether or not they go camping together because the nature of the class forces students to work together regardless of a camping trip.

Requiring a $90 trip to be a member of an advanced choir is absolutely unnecessary. The trip might accelerate the process slightly, but the choir students will still learn to work as a team throughout the rest of the year. The mandatory trip really only serves to take up students’ time and waste their money.