Constructing Successful Student Choirs for the Second Quarter of the 21st Century

Part One – Daunting
Part Two – Beyond mere possibility
Part Three – Listening
Part Four – Leading
Part Five – Following
Part Six – Courage vs. Shyness
Part Seven – Collaborating
Part Eight – Goodbye to Me First
Part Nine – Choral Music … much more than singing
Part Ten – Revealing Riches and Building Lives


Building a choir of teenagers – whether in a school, church, or larger community – can be, and usually is, a daunting task. In fact, it can be so intimidating, time-consuming, and labor-intensive that many, many … (we’re talking many) would-be student choir directors simply pronounce it too much work and quit … or perhaps never even begin. Many figure their time is too valuable to mess with fickle group of adolescents, demanding parents, and the constant stream of conflicting schedules.

I live in Northwest San Antonio, which, for the past decade, has been one of the top five fastest-growing urban corridors in the United States. More specifically, my dwelling for the past nine years has been a quarter mile from the northwest quadrant of Interstate 10 West and Loop 1604. My apartment is literally across the parking lot from La Cantera Mall. If you know anything about San Antonio, you’ll immediately realize that this precise spot is ground zero for the growth and infrastructure rebuilds currently in full progress. Most notable is the $1 billion dollar freeway construction project connecting Interstate 10 with Loop 1604, complete with fly-overs and, eventually, 24 lanes of traffic across. Frankly, it currently resembles a construction war zone.

It is necessary for me to drive through this daily-changing construction matrix twice every day as I move to and from home. There’s not a day that passes that I don’t eye the construction workers who appear as ants more than a hundred feet above the street, building the t-structures which are destined to support some of the fly-over lanes.

Somebody somewhere is actually managing all this work! There are literally hundreds of construction specialists and workers on the scene, each in their long sleeves, steel-toed boots, and hard hats with sun visor extensions around all sides. There are earth-moving graders and cranes of every size and shape imaginable. There is a steady stream of dozens of concrete-pouring trucks moving in and out of the area, complete with their rotating barrels. The process goes on 24/7 and has continued at this pace for now more than 18 months. Not only that, but they accomplish all this work while a reported 700,000 vehicles per day cross that intersection. Yes, the traffic at times is slow or even crawls at a snail’s pace.

One of the things that happened before the actual construction began – the city produced a high-tech “before and after” video of how the new project was going to look after completion. Believe me, this video is highly impressive, and seeing it ahead of time makes the process seem much more bearable. This new freeway system is going to be a game-changer for about 1.5 million people getting to and from work everyday.

To my way of thinking, this behemoth construction project is a metaphor for what it takes to build a youth choir. Every day that I drive through the ever-developing grid of construction, I am reminded of the various facets, considerations, and raw tasks required to build a choir which will transform the lives of teenagers for years and even decades to come. Actually, I believe the transformation will be eternal. The similarities in construction considerations between the two projects — the billion-dollar one and the priceless one — are stunning.

Yes, it’s a dauting process.

Yes, it may demand more work than anything you’ve ever done.

Yes, as Mother Superior sang to Maria in the “Sound of Music.” It is “a dream that will need all the love you can give … every day of your life, for as long as you live.” Or at least until you retire.

And yes, the results and the movement and traffic of blessings coming and going as a result of both projects will be nothing short of stunning!

Welcome to the new build!

Stay tuned for nine more installments in this series!

Randy Edwards
[email protected]