First Tour

Being a rookie on tour can be very challenging and very rewarding. Tour is full of singing and rehearsals and calisthenics, can’t forget the calisthenics. When on tour you have to be on your toes at all times. You have to be ready to sing anything from Non nobis domine to the Glendy Burk.

Another big part of tour is the home stays. Home stays are a thing we do where nice people invite us to spend the night at their house. When I first heard the idea I was a little confused, the idea of spending the night in a complete strangers house was little scary, but once I actually met my home stay family they turned out to be very nice.

On tour we can be singing anywhere from a church to a assisted living facility. As Mrs. Nelson says, “Singing, it’s a thinking mans game.” My first tour has been a very fun experience and I can’t wait untill next season so I can do it again.

Hunter

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Touring: The Invaluable Experience

Each season Houston Boychoir embarks on a concert tour, somewhere. It could be across the state or it could be across the country. But, in this, our 50th anniversary season, 25 incredibly lucky boys traveled across the globe to South Africa.

The choristers think this is their big reward for working hard all year and being in the choir. As their director, I know their reward comes in all they learn.  If you are one of those angels who have supported Houston Boychoir in all they do and even more this season with the grand tour, here, in their voice is how much you impacted a bunch of pre-teen boys.

On Tour:

I learned how to be responsible and how to manage time wisely. These two things will get me far in life…Liam A. 8th grade

Sometimes long bus rides with your friends are more fun than short plane rides and patience and flexibility really are keys to being successful…Nicholas V. 7th grade

I learned how to pack efficiently, lead a group responsibly, and how to interact with new people with a different world view…Jonathan Z. 8th grade

On tour I learned how to quickly put on my formal uniform while still doing it correctly…Coleman H. 6th grade

I learned how to be responsible for myself! Keeping track of my stuff, waking up at the right time, spending money in controlled amounts, and making sure I keep up with the group.  I think these are important life skills that are necessary to succeed…Patrick J. 6th grade

On tour, this tour especially, I learned patience. Being with a younger person and trying to understand their position is what has helped me learn this skill. There are too many things I could write for what I learned but I will just focus on one. The greatest thing I learned was maturity, a lesson that I am grateful for…Jacob M. 8th grade

I learned on tour that many countries are as modern as America and in the choir I learned that if you work hard, you will make the group better…David G. 5th grade

I learned how to pack my bag, how to be ready when it is time to move and how to listen for instructions…Royce S. 6th grade

I have learned how to pack my own bag and how to organize myself…Elliot S. 5th grade

On tour I’ve learned about communicating with people I don’t know (strangers). The home stays challenged me socially because I have trouble catching on but from now on I have a better idea of what to do. I am less shy from this experience…Gerry M. 6th grade

The thing I learned from tour is that you have to be formal for most of the time and you can’t be rude to anyone. What I learned from the choir this year is that you always have fun and you are a professional…anon.

As the directors and staff ready for a new season and new boys we look with enthusiasm for all the learning we can do along side these remarkable boys. Thank you for all your support and see you at the concerts.Image

 

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Musings with wifi

It will be a quick post. Technology is so easy at home…life is so easy at home. On the road, life is unpredictable. So wonderful for us here. An unforgettable experience that these boys will remember forever. Today they have made new friends with South African singing boys…The Drakensberg are fantastic and lovely hospitable people.

I’m at a loss for words, South Africa is just amazing. We had a scrumptious breakfast on the balcony of our hotel, in front of a breathtaking sunrise. The warm, beaming sun isn’t the only thing that blows us away though, after about a half hour drive from the hotel, we arrived at a beautiful beach, overlooking the Indian Ocean. The water is crystal clear, and it’s a beautiful bright blue. You can actually see what’s in the water, unlike some other beaches I know….Galveston :) A crisp cold water brushed our feet as most of us ran into the water with great excitement. Now we’re on our way to Drakensberg, on a 5 hour bus ride.
Lots of the other guys are playing games on the bus. However, I think there’s something else that we’ve all learned on our journey here so far, and that is how privileged we are in America, and how on many occasions, we take these privileges for granted. Some of the really simple things we have in the US aren’t found here. Take going to school, in the US, most of our public education here is free or of a low cost, because we pay taxes and such to the government. In South Africa though, many families can’t afford to pay for their child’s education, so going to school here is a serious privilege. On some of the bus rides before, we’ve passed by some poor communities, and I think that made us all reflect on how we should all appreciate all we’ve got back home in America. We all look forward to our time in Drakensburg, and hope for a great time there.
(JZ)

After the beach in Durban, we headed for the mountains. Our stop along the way took us to a waterfall in Howick. The artisans were out selling their wares. My favorite was an artist selling batiks from Malawi. The boys were happy buying and buying, spending their Rand. Matthew bought a wooden, carved letter opener he will have check or the plane will think he has a spear!!

Lunch was relaxed under a grand old tree and for a minute, it didn’t feel like tour but more like a relaxed vacation with a big family! Ms. Holt found a wonderful shop and dragged Ms. Nelson where the two ladies got into a buying frenzy. Mr. Bey had to go and drag them out of the shop and the boys were happy at last when they reemerged and got on the bus so we could be on our way.

We are traveling through the mountains, climbing.

Musings of a Traveling Singing Boy (or chaperone)
Every day on tour, especially an international tour, brings another adventure… what will we get to eat, what mode of transportation will we get to travel by and what new stories will we get to write? South Africa is definitely better than advertised. The landscapes and cityscapes are simply remarkable and they should only get better as we transition from the coastlines to the mountains. To steal a slogan from a South African bank (that was actually used as a sermon illustration on Sunday), “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” It’s the “simplicity” of music that has brought us on this journey and that I sincerely look forward to tomorrow in Drakensberg as boys from opposite sides of the world will join in voice, mind and heart.
*mf

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The First 48 Hours or Day 1!

This is the end of day one on the ground. We are so tired having left Houston, traveled first leg to Amsterdam, a unexpected stop in Rome to end at last in our beds in Cape Town some 28 hours later.  We were awakened for calesthenics and the first thing we noticed were the hills. Beautiful for the landscape, a challenge for young tired limbs. But really , it helps wake us up and our reward is a breakfast with eggs, choices of meats, vegetables, cereals, breads, pasteries, fruits and more. The staff wants to hear us sing and we are grateful for the food and the nice rooms so we do and they are so genuinely appreciative. But, no more than we! The day took us first to a nearby mall to find our legs and spend a couple of hours before going to rehearsal. Boys are surprised to see Gap, and Woolworth's other familiar store names but Ms. Holt is sad because there is no Starbucks in the South African cities!! We meet back at the bus. Mr. Fowler has printed our programs and some of the boys managed to find lunch. There are some very large pizza boxes. In the shopping Jonathan found a new Swatch to purchase, simple and elegant. It's off to find the hall where we will be singing our first concert tonight. It's beautiful so we are happy to begin our rehearsal which what we didn't know was to occupy two hours. Every time we had a break of a chance to sit we were asleep, even on the hard wooden floor. Off to dinner at Stag's Saratoga. This is an interesting chain of stores. Might be the similar to Chili's or Friday's. Each one is a little different because in the mall we had seen Stag's Alamo!! There was a lot of food served by a waitstaff in oversized, cow-skinned, spotted cow boy hats which one side pinned up Aussie style.  Service for 33 always takes longer. Restaurants love to see us coming on tour, a bunch of boys ready to eat, but then they never realize they have to feed us at the same time. It was drizzling with a chilly rain when we scurried back to the concert to change and prepare to make new friends. We are changed and seated in the hall for the first half of what would turn out to be a most inspiring evening of music making. First the Tygerberg Children's Chorus. A group of 62, mostly girls who sang with a glorious tone and energy. Tygerberg was followed by the South African Youth Choir who wore an African costume traditional in nature and who sang with such soul and beauty. Their set was twenty minutes of singing and dancing and shouting and energy and love of what they sing. It was magical and just the inspiration the Houston Boys needed to rise from their tired bodies and show their own love of the song! What a way to make new friends. To share an evening of music together. At the end, it was time for boys to meet thier new families with whom they would spend the next 3 nights. Happy and tired they went home to bed.

This is the end of day one on the ground. We are so tired having left Houston, traveled first leg to Amsterdam, a unexpected pp in Rome to end at last in our beds in Cape Town some 28 hours later.
We were awakened for calesthenics and the first thing we noticed were the hills. Beautiful for the landscape, a challenge for young tired limbs. But really , it helps wake us up and our reward is a breakfast with eggs, choices of meats, vegetables, cereals, breads, pasteries, fruits and more. The staff wants to hear us sing and we are grateful for the food and the nice rooms so we do and they are so genuinely appreciative. But, no more than we!
The day took us first to a nearby mall to find our legs and spend a couple of hours before going to rehearsal. Boys are surprised to see Gap, and Woolworth’s other familiar store names but Ms. Holt is sad because there iscities!!
We meet back at the bus. Mr. Fowler has printed our programs and some of the boys managed to find lunch. There are some very large pizza boxes. In the shopping Jonathan found a new Swatch to purchase, simple and elegant.
It’s off to find the hall where we will be singing our first concert tonight. It’s beautiful so we are happy to begin our rehearsal which what we didn’t know was to occupy two hours. Every time we had a break of a chance
Off to dinner at Stag’s Saratoga. This is an interesting chain of stores. Might be the similar to Chili’s or Friday’s. Each one is a little different because in the mall we had seen Stag’s Alamo!! There was a lot oRestaurants love to see us coming on tour, a bunch of boys ready to eat, but then they never realize they have to feed us at the same time. It was drizzling with a chilly rain when we scurried back to the concert to change and prepare to make new friends.

We are changed and seated in the hall for the first half of what would turn out to be a most inspiring evening of music making. First the Tygerberg Children’s Chorus. A group of 62, mostly girls who sang with a glorious tone and energy. Tygerberg was followed by the South African Youth Choir who wore an African costume traditional in nature and who sang with such soul and beauty. Their set was twenty minutes of singing and dancing and shouting and energy and love of what they sing. It was magical and just the inspiration the Houston Boys needed to rise from their tired bodies and show their own love of the song!

What a way to make new friends. To share an evening of music together. At the end, it was time for boys to meet their new families with whom they would spend the next 3 nights. Happy and tired they went home to bed.

[caption id="attachment_577" align="alignright" width="640"]Waiting to board in Amsterdam Waiting to board in Amsterdam

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48 Hours Packing

This is a fraction of what we will look like at the airport. Packing light for 33, no way! The Director began packing 2 weeks ago and is now beginning the final purge and repack.

How many boys and parents began the packing yesterday, the Saturday before departing?Tour is as much an education for parents as it is for the boys. “How do I let my 10 year old pack his own suitcase so that he knows what he has and where his belongings are within the traveling closet?” vs. “How do I get it right for him?” Oh the opportunities that await, both the known and the hidden.

We hope you will join us on our journey. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter there are a numerous ways even just right here in WordPress.

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Two Weeks to South Africa

The start of an adventure. It has been years in the making. It was summer tour 2010 on tour in Baltimore when we said let’s go to South Africa for the 50th Anniversary Summer Concert Tour of the Singing Boys of Houston, now Houston Boychoir. So for the next two seasons we did a little extra fundraising and worked ahead and then the real planning began in the spring of 2012.

Thank goodness for the internet. We had our dear Jannie to send the names of choirs to contact and so it began. A wonderful agenda has been put together for the education of the boys both musical, geographical and social. But before we leave there is the packing.

Now as a traveler, I believe in going it light but not when traveling with HBC. Then it is traveling for 35. What do we need? Med forms, uniforms, gifts, first aid kits, extra ties, extra music, permissions and passports. New communication accessories and lists and more lists.

It’s 13 days until we leave. It is 8:30 PM as I write this and 13 days from now, we will be half way to Amsterdam and less than a third of the way to our first destination of Cape Town.

I hope you’ll join us as we go. If you want to send advice on travel, do so before July 16th. By then we will be up in the air and off and running.

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2010 on tour when we decided to go to South Africa. Look everybody likes the news

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A Trip to the Hospital

To be a member of the Houston Boychoir is to experience life in ways that are unique to the average boy between the ages of 10 and 18. On such opportunity came when we decided to take our talents into the Texas Medical Center this holiday season.

 

It was a beautiful morning on December 8th when the boys of the Chamber Choir set out for Texas Children’s Hospital to spread good cheer and sing.

 

This was a new experience for these boys and in the early morning chill didn’t know what the day would bring.

 

Santa's Medical Center Workshop

Santa’s Medical Center Workshop where we warmed up and sang a few carols for the early morning hospital shift as they arrived.

 

HBC Friend, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia

Singing began in the lobby when who did we meet but HBC Friend, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and his crew, there to bring presents to the children.

 

The Journey Within

The great discipline taught through the study of music creates boys who are unique in their ability to emulate the adults they meet and adapt to the expectations of the environment they visit. And so the boys had the privilege to enter the floors and sing for the patients, their families and the all important hospital staff, doctors, nurses, aides, technicians, all who were there on a Saturday working in an emotionally charged atmosphere with children and health concerns.

 

Boys had the opportunity to sing for patients while on dialysis and their parents who sit with them tirelessly. The nurses on staff seemed to enjoy the joy of the singing as much or even more than anybody.

 

 

 

 

 

We hear they have few visitors on Saturdays and everybody seemed to be glad we were there. We could tell because we heard them singing along.

 

It was a privilege to be in the hospital and we knew it. After dialysis it was time for lunch so we went to the cafeteria where we were treated to cheese and pepperoni pizzas. Always a favorite with singing boys!

 

Of course all the hospital staff and some patients who were having lunch in the cafeteria wanted to hear Christmas carols too so we sang for them. The cafeteria lady who worked the cash register grinned the whole time!

 

 

 

All in all it was a trip to be remembered. At the next rehearsal the boys talked about how much it meant to them to be so close to the people in the hospital, the children, their parents and the staff.

 

To sing and to see on all the faces the sadness that comes from being in the hospital and the joy the boys could bring singing.

 

Gingerbread House Project Texas Children's Hospital  December 8, 2012

Gingerbread House Project Texas Children’s Hospital
December 8, 2012

 

 

 

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