To the Editor:

In these unforeseen times, we are learning now more than ever that very few things in life are constant. Over the last few months I have realized, for me, the few constants are family, friends, music, and sport.

Growing up, a love for music always filled my home with my parents listening to classics like Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and watching the tapping of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in Singin’ in the Rain. For my sisters and me, we listen to everything in between. Finding the Choral program once we moved to Chatham, especially at the high school, greatly impacted other aspects of my life far beyond music. Being in a group like Select Choir showed me it is possible to understand others without saying a word. When singing in a group of 20, each must be able to acknowledge when a song is perfect and there is a palpable connection, or when something has to change on the fly to hope to reach that point. 

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In cross-country, it is the same: unlike most sports, cross-country is decided by what seven young men can do in about fifteen minutes. There is no ninth-inning rally, so just like in a choir, that energy has to be felt on the starting line and long before. Like music, there is an arc and rhythm to each race. Ask any serious runner, and they will tell you of one incredibly specific song that gets stuck in their head and gets them through that tough last mile of a race. Finding that calmness and comfort within a song can save races and bring out something amazing within you, previously unknown. 

Science has identified this as “Flow State”, right between anxiety and boredom. On stage, once flow state is reached, there is an engaged focus without the anxiety and tension that often comes with performing. To truly be the best competitor in anything (running, singing...etc.) there has to be an aspect of clutchness. I often lacked this ability to win when it mattered, but by being put in these uncomfortable situations on a large stage whether it's a solo recital or stepping up in an audition I've learned there is no backing down. It’s not like you can just stop singing, so you have to be “all in”. When it’s a county championship and you are competing with guys who you thought were untouchable, there is no quitting, you just have put your foot on the gas a bit harder. 

Select Choir has taught me as much about competing as running. Our teacher, Mr. Bryson, is there like a coach, to push us as far as we can go. Everyone has the potential to be great, but few have someone to push them far enough out of their comfort zone to achieve greatness. Two years ago I was one of many singing because it was something my friends and I always did, but Mr. Bryson took a chance on me when I auditioned for Select Choir, and for that I am grateful. This leap of faith on his part has allowed me to become the student, athlete, singer, and most importantly, human that I am today.

With gratitude,

Gregory Himstreet