“I like working collaboratively, and being open to different possibilities. It leads to exponential growth as a teacher and artist.”
Elizabeth is the founder and artistic director of the Choral Collective of Newport County. She has worked with community youth choirs for more than 15 years, most recently with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work different places around the country, which allowed me to grow as a teacher, and find new ways to help youth find their voices. Each community has different obstacles and challenges, so I had to adapt and listen. I’ve become more open-minded. I try to figure out what is necessary to help these particular students get involved and interested. It’s not just one-size-fits-all answer. It’s being open to each community’s needs and wants. Music should be accessible to all youth.”
My philosophy is rooted in three values: developing and strengthening a child’s unique voice, guiding young people to understand how his/her voice contributes to the whole group or community, and celebrating the joy we experience through working hard and working together.
Our voice is as unique as our thumbprint. Singing in a choir allows us to experience first hand both the celebration of individual as well as empathy for others. We listen beyond our own voice and hear how our voice makes a difference to the group’s sound.
We do not classify sounds as “bad” or “good.” Instead we have a colorful palette of sounds we can make, and are able to choose which sound to use at any given time. When we avoid using words of conflict, we start to understand that our differences or different approaches are equal in value, even when we don’t agree. In class I will say, “We didn’t all agree on that note,” or “We didn’t agree on that vowel sound.” The singers then respond with ideas and suggestions regarding how to meet our goal of unification.