Overheard (read) in a discussion prompted by the question “Snapshot, beginning of 2017: what is the current state of contemporary a cappella?”:
“High school a cappella is inspiring kids to sing. Something traditional choral music has struggled to do for decades.”
Traditional choral music has not struggled for decades to inspire kids to sing.
Traditional choral music has struggled for decades to continue to reach kids, even as public school arts budgets have been eviscerated.
Traditional choral music has provided a place for all students, even as a cappella pop directors debate whether 16 is too big for one of their ensembles.
Traditional choral music has educated students about the Western musical canon (and, increasingly, a canon that draws from every part of the globe), encompassing 500+ years of musical achievement, even as contemporary a cappella groups struggle to program the most ripped-from-the-pop-charts tunes.
Traditional choral music provides opportunities for every singer to express emotion through great poetry, even as a non-soloist in a a cappella pop group might go an entire concert without singing an actual word.
Traditional choral music has not struggled to inspire kids to sing.
A cappella pop music can, and should, be part of a well-rounded choral music experience. I direct an ensemble that could be described a contemporary a cappella group! But a cappella pop is not a panacea for what ails music education. Societal value of music education is that.
Two things combine to inspire kids to sing: Passion for music and great teachers. Given those and the opportunity to enroll in a choir, there is no struggle.