In an effort to increase the choral spirit at LAHS, Choral Music Director Mark Shaull has undertaken the task of rounding up 100 male vocalists for Varsity Men’s Glee and 100 female vocalists for Bella Voce, one of the school’s all-girl choral groups. After struggling with membership in both clubs, the 100 Voices Challenge was implemented to act as an outreach program for more advanced choral groups on campus such as the Main Street Singers.
Coming from a long background of working with choral groups, Shaull understands that experience in vocalization is not required for being in a choir.
“I’ve been singing since my childhood; I started singing in choir as a sophomore in high school,” Shaull said. “Everyone carries this wonderful instrument of voice with them…some people just don’t know how to use it… I will be more than happy to teach any student who walks through my doors with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.”
While many students may be hesitant to sign up for a singing club without any previous experience or because of a self-proclaimed “bad” voice, Shaull and the members of Varsity Men’s Glee and Bella Voce stress that this should not deter students from signing up.
“The problem with singing is that so many people are unwilling to try because it isn’t his or her thing,” senior Eddie Barnes said. “Singing is not a thing like joining a sports team because you don’t have to have experience doing it. Singing is something that even without experience, you are very welcome to do…You can be as eager as you want to come in and do it.”
Shaull believes that students who take on singing will learn to appreciate its beauty.
“From singing, students learn to appreciate what makes good music and what variables are needed in the expression of music,” Shaull said. “They have fun doing it, they like to get to that next step, they like to progress [and] they realize that where they’re at is great and where they can be with extra effort and knowledge and skill is even greater.”
To spread the news about the challenge, Shaull is relying on word of mouth spread by choral members. Even before the 100 Voices Challenge began, it had been something of a tradition for members to campaign for the choral groups.
“It’s kind of like your duty to bring in new club members,” Eddie said. “The second you’re in the choral department, your job is to immediately bring in your friends…Personally, for me, I never thought I would be a singer, but I was dragged in by friends to this very easy-to-attend activity at lunch. That’s how I got involved.”
Thus far, club membership is at record numbers. The 100 Voice Challenge is already halfway to its goal for both Varsity Men’s Glee and Bella Voce. Among all the choral groups at LAHS—which include Varsity Men’s Glee and Bella Voce, as well as Concert Choir, Quartet Squared, Girls 21 and Mainstreet—Shaull estimates that he is currently instructing a total of about 350 students.
Should his 100 Voice Challenge for Varsity Men’s Glee and Bella Voce prove successful, Shaull has promised to reward both clubs with a much-anticipated trip down to southern California to collaborate with other local high schools that Shaull has connections to. The choral groups will take part in a festival second semester and attend music workshops taught by college professors.
Club meetings take place during lunch in room 801 located across from the Eagle Theater. Varsity Men’s Glee meets Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Bella Voce meets Thursdays.