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Boys' Choir audition and concerns about some of the "rules"

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

My 10yo ds sings in his school choir and we've been encouraged by his teacher and choir director to seek out a community choir for him to join. My ds is happy to do this so we've been checking them out.   Yesterday, we went to a boys' choir audition and were really impressed by the singing and my kids enjoyed the audition.  

 

The big red flag went up for me when the director said that parents are not allowed to chaperone on tours if there children are participating.  They can't even "shadow" the tour, meaning we couldn't make our own arrangements so that we could see the performance.  The rationale was that the children are more independent without their parents and it offers them that experience of independence which they rarely get.  Also, they said that children behave differently when their parents aren't there, not implying good or bad behavior, but that the children get a unique experience without their parents.  What you can do is chaperone with a choir your child is not singing with, so for us that might mean the high school choir.  But my immediate thought was "why would I commit days away from my family to chaperone kids I don't know?".   All of these choirs are expensive so it just feels like a lot to ask of parents to do this.

 

I guess I can understand all of that but it rubbed me the wrong way immediately and I'm checking in with all of you here to see if I'm being overly protective.  I am not presuming that this director or anyone involved is a pedafile, but it seems like a setup for something to happen - you are intentionally separated from your children.  I think if parents don't want to chaperone and want to give their children and independent experience, that seems great.  But it seems like this should be a parental decision, not one for the choir director to make.

 

Thoughts?

post #2 of 24

I wouldnt have a problem with that policy. Although I would regret not seeing the performances, I get what they are saying. Kids do act differently with parents around. And I imagine they had some problems with stage parents being too involved. For most kids, I think 10YO would be a good time to start having some independent experiences. Are they away overnight? What an adventure!

post #3 of 24

I think it would be better to have a policy if individual parents become a problem.  Having been a children's Aikido instructor, I have first-hand experience with some of the over-involvment of parents, but this over-arching policy would not sit well with me.  I can see having limits--sleep separately, permission to discipline if necessary, etc.-- but no-parents-at-all is unacceptable.  If there is trouble, take it one parent/child at a time.  What it sounds like they are implying (pardon the hyperbole) is "kids are uncontrollable, whiny brats with their parents around, and the parents are overbearing shits who breathe down our necks every minute making discipline a pain in the ass".  

 

Maybe I wouldn't go along anyway and let my kids have fun without me (I agree that is pretty awesome at 10yo), but to mandate it makes me to want to be that pain in the ass and breathe down their necks just to spite them.  I am so contrary.......

post #4 of 24

I used to work for a boychoir, and we took the boys on overnight camps twice a year, and on tour (usually for a week or more) once a year.

 

We needed parent chaperones to attend these events because our staff was not big enough to handle everything on our own, and our organization was not big enough that we could have a policy like the one you're hearing of, where parents don't travel with their own kid's choir.

 

In my experience, selecting parent volunteers for these events was a really delicate task. It's not that we assumed that all parents would be "overbearing shits", but it was clear that some parents were better equipped to deal with the realities of being on tour with 30+ pre-pubescent boys. We required parents to be camp chaperones (which was a slightly less intense job) prior to being tour chaperones, so that we could get a feel for their readiness to do the job at hand.

 

One of the most amazing parts of my job was watching boys who had never been away from their parents blossom and grow in independence, sometimes working through home sickness or other issues along the way. In some cases older boys who had struggled when they were younger became mentors to kids who were away for the first time. It was very cool. We had a few parents who were so great to work with that they ended up coming to most of our events, and I sometimes deliberately didn't choose them because I wanted their kids to have the experience of being away on their own. There really is something different that happens for a kid who has to cope with being away from mom & dad.

 

Having said that, you as a parent have to decide what you're comfortable with. My guess is that this choir has learned through many years of experience what arrangement is most likely to produce a good outcome for everyone. There are probably specific reasons why they structure things the way they do. I would encourage you to ask for more information from the choir staff. If they're doing it because they don't trust parents, that wouldn't sit well with me either. But they may have other perfectly legit reasons for their policy.

 

I hope that either way, you'll give your son the opportunity to sing with a boys choir. It can be such an amazing experience for a boy and can lead to a lifetime love of music. What an amazing gift for a parent to give a child.

post #5 of 24

Even before I read all the replies. over bearing stage parents is the first thing that popped into my mind. Like others have said, I would urge you to discuss it with them in further detail. We have not done choir but we've done quite a few other activities with travel and have witnessed over bearing parents. I am talking about reality show levels of stage parents! They truly exist. I've witnessed parents screaming at their kids, sulking and hysterics when they didn't perform as expected, epic fights minutes before they were supposed to go onto stage, parents sneaking kids away for lunch and then not returning them because the parent decided to go shopping instead. Group performances that have to be delayed because key children were missing and no one can track down the mom who never answers her phone.  On and on. My gut assumption with how this choir has the children and the parents always separated, that this is not a decision nor logistics that come easily. There is a reason it is set up this way. It must be easier to have chaperone that is not personally invested in a group of children and all the children in one contained place instead of Suzy staying with mom on the 3rd floor, Bob with dad on 5th floor, a group on the 4th floor and you can only track down the group on the 4th floor. Allowing the parents to still go to performances despite not being the chaperone doesn't stop the really over zealous parents from micromanaging everything that goes on. They will find a way to get to their kids. It's sad that policies have gotten to this but I could see how it is in place if my assumption is correct. 

post #6 of 24
I can see both sides of this. The kids could benefit by adventuring without parents, but with the recent happenings at Penn State, I also see the danger. All it takes is one bad apple to spoil the experience. If one of the volunteer chaperones takes advantage of a single child ... It's a tough decision.
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 

pek64, this is exactly my concern.  I'm the antithesis of overbearing and have little competitive spirit in my bones.  But my concern was for the safety of the kids.  I feel like there has been so much in the news over the past several years about children being abused in situations exactly like this - creating an environment of trust, building relationships, wanting wonderful experiences for these youngs kids, etc.  But this is when these things happen...when trust has been built and there are opportunities for adults to be alone with kids sans parents.  

 

I'm struggling because I can really see what previous posters are saying about the value of an independent experience like this.  But my radar goes up when it feels like parents are being separated from kids rather than parents making those decisions on their own. With what we know about pedafiles and the fact that they are often those we create relationships with and trust, I'm not sure I can do it.

 

I'll have to keep stewing on this one. Thanks so much for the input.

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Even before I read all the replies. over bearing stage parents is the first thing that popped into my mind.

that was NOT what popped into my head, and I also asked my DH and he said "Hell NO!" not at that age!

 

prime age boys, Penn State (we are in PA too) - we just wouldn't not feel good about it

 

Helicopter parents are one things, this, NO!

 

 

 

Quote:
I'm struggling because I can really see what previous posters are saying about the value of an independent experience like this.  But my radar goes up when it feels like parents are being separated from kids rather than parents making those decisions on their own. With what we know about pedafiles and the fact that they are often those we create relationships with and trust, I'm not sure I can do it.

the other thing about not wanting you to go see the shows, how do they know you are sitting there? way to creepy for us

post #9 of 24

As far as the Penn State commets...it's true, pedophiles are attracted to any job where there might be a remote chance that they will have contact with a child (or eventually gain enough trust to be left alone with a child)....in schools, churches, sports, scouting, law enforcement, day care, medicine, volunteering, clowns, magicians, etc. Sadly, when they can't get children that way, they will still find a way, like to prey on the children of single moms they date, or on their own relatives or children of family friends. I am by no means saying that all people who work with kids or date single moms are kid touchers. My kids have had contact with all of the above! My kids do some extra curricular activities, and I have left my son alone with a (female) tutor before, and a few female babysitters. He even does scouts (luckily, they have a lot of safeguards in place now).   

 

Before my son was 5, there were already three men he was in contact with who were questioned and/or arrested and convicted for sexual abuse and/or child porn (day care worker at a church, karate instructor, and the principal at an elementary school he attended for pre-k). He actually had one-on-one instruction with the karate instructor...and got pretty physical with him as far as knocking him down and jumping on him a couple of times...but I was present for every lesson...thank goodness! Think about it -those are only the ones who got caught!

 

I got creeped out by a couple of other people we have crossed paths with over the years too...like the guy who was so eager to invite us ALL the way into his apartment on Halloween and snapped a photo of my then 2 year old in his costume without my consent. I actually called the authorities to let them know about this and alerted the leasing office staff...just in case.

 

While I see both sides here, as I am probably the annoying helicopter parent type at times....if you are uncomfortable, look elsewhere. Maybe you could talk to a few other parents who have sent their boys to that choir camp. I think their policy sounds a bit too strict...they should welcome parents -to a degree.

post #10 of 24

I first thought that they might be worried about liability issues if parent volunteers are allowed on the trips. Parents can be pedophiles too, so allowing parents to attend is no guarantee against bad things happening. Then I read that parents could chaperone if their child wasn't involved in a choir, so liability isn't the reason. I agree with pp that they are probably concerned with overbearing, interfering, helicopter/stage parents. Likely, they have had some bad experiences with these parents if they have resorted to such an extreme policy.  

post #11 of 24

I just want to add...

 

Pedophilia is horrifying, and high profile stories in the news I think make us hyper-aware and concerned about that issue. But I do believe that pedophilia is actually quite rare, and I think most organizations can create systems that do a good job of protecting kids from pedophiles (and lots of other dangers). When I read about a choir policy like the one the OP mentioned, I think they are trying to deal with the "helicopter/stage parent" issue, not trying to shelter pedophiles.

 

Just because parents aren't allowed to travel with their own children doesn't mean that any old parent can go on a tour...there is probably still some kind of screening and/or training process that ensures that anyone who is going on the trip is reliable, trustworthy, etc. These would be good questions to ask the choir management: How do you select parents for tour chaperoning? What do you look for in a tour chaperone? What training/guidelines do you provide? What are your expectations of tour chaperones? If they don't have good answers to these questions, that would be a red flag...they might be accepting just any warm body who can come along. But if they have a robust process in place, I for one as a parent would trust it.

 

I feel very fortunate that my parents gave me lots of opportunities to be away from home and away from them when I was growing. I went to visit relatives, went to numerous camps, traveled with friends of our family, traveled with my ballet teacher. If their fears had held me back from ever leaving their sight, I would have missed out on a lot of amazing experiences and things that shaped who I have become.

 

Of course, each time they sent me away, I was with someone they trusted, or I was someplace with a good reputation (in the case of the camps). You can develop a relationship with an organization, get to know the people who run it, get to know the other families, and then it can be beneficial and good to let your child spend time with them (and without you).

 

What I was hearing is that the OP is considering not even signing her child up for choir, based on this tour policy. And I just think that would be a big shame.

post #12 of 24
Quote:
They can't even "shadow" the tour, meaning we couldn't make our own arrangements so that we could see the performance.  The rationale was that the children are more independent without their parents and it offers them that experience of independence which they rarely get.  Also, they said that children behave differently when their parents aren't there, not implying good or bad behavior, but that the children get a unique experience without their parents.  What you can do is chaperone with a choir your child is not singing with, so for us that might mean the high school choir.  But my immediate thought was "why would I commit days away from my family to chaperone kids I don't know?".

the bold part really seems strange - take away the other stuff (as mentioned pedophiles) - when if ever do you see your child sing? does this odd policy prevent other family members from seeing the child sing, and how do they know or in force it? 

 

I get the whole away from the parents (only to a very small degree) but most who love to sing do so for others and they does mean family, so I really don't get this group- they are not encouraging that aspect of it??

post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

the bold part really seems strange - take away the other stuff (as mentioned pedophiles) - when if ever do you see your child sing? does this odd policy prevent other family members from seeing the child sing, and how do they know or in force it? 

 

I get the whole away from the parents (only to a very small degree) but most who love to sing do so for others and they does mean family, so I really don't get this group- they are not encouraging that aspect of it??

 

The OP will have to ask the choir management, but my guess is that they have concerts at their home community which is when parents, friends, other relatives, etc. can hear their children perform. They may also have open rehearsals. Tours may function really differently from their normal year-round operations. When I worked for a boychoir, we toured 1 week a year, the rest of the year, everything was in our home community. And the tour operated really differently than anything else. It's worth asking.

 

Parents who want to attend their child's performances on tour sometimes want a whole level of support. They want help making travel arrangements, finding hotel rooms in the same hotels, purchasing tickets, etc. This may be why they have structured their policy the way they have. It's not that they're going to prevent anyone who knows a particular kid from attending a performance...but they aren't encouraging it, and they certainly aren't supporting it.

 

Anyway, I'm only speaking from my experience working for a choir that did tours. The only way to find out why this particular choir does things the way they do is to ask.

post #14 of 24
Quote:
Parents who want to attend their child's performances on tour sometimes want a whole level of support.

this isn't always the case, in my area we have a boy and girls choir and they do performances in other states as well (has been going for almost 40 years now)-parents have never been banned like this and it's not a big issue either, you often have family and friends in other cities and I know many that plan min- trips around their child's schedule as well with no performance issues

 

10 year old certainly is not 13 year old-IMO

post #15 of 24
The more I think about this, the more uncomfortable I feel. The policy sounds super controlling on the choir's side. I wouldn't like a director thinking he/she has the right to tell me I can't follow the choir and view the performance. What other parental rights does that person feel entitled to take?

Therapy can help if my child gets abused, but is not a substitute for good judgment before abuse can occur.
post #16 of 24

I wouldn't be happy with that policy, mostly because I love seeing my kids perform, whether it's the weekly small performance my daughter does at the end of dance to show what she learned that week or the big yearly recital where she's dressed up on the stage in front of lots of people, ya know?

I loved when my parents watched my performances, and if anything, I'd try even harder to do good when they were there. 

post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 

 Yes, a pp is correct that we can attend performances in our home community, but it's the tours that they restrict parents from participating in.  I can't get past my sense that this is not their decision to make and I don't think I can sign up.  Fortunately, we have two other options in our area so my ds will still be able to join a choir.  I just contacted the one we will visit in a few weeks (and they have a boys' choir for older kids) and they said that parents are more than welcome to volunteer and attend performances here or away.  This sits much better with me.  I think issues that arise from overbearing parents are opportunities for dialog and should be seen as an exception, not the rule.  I would never presume that the choir staff manage my travel details.  I can't imagine a parent that would...that would certainly be problematic and a simple conversation and boundary setting would be in order.  But to assume that a majority of parents might act this way seems bizarre.  

 

Anyway, thank you for all of the input.  I think with all that we know now, the only way to keep kids safe is through prevention.  It doesn't mean that one has to be neurotic about it, but a policy that separates parents from children when they are away from home and vulnerable seems extreme.  Also, the choir doesn't have elaborate screening (and how would they screen for a perpetrator?)...they told me immediately that I could sign up to chaperone the high school choir.  They can run a background check, but we all know that individuals who manipulate and work their way into a family system in order to take advantage of a child go undetected for years in some cases.  

 

I'm so happy that we've found another option for him.  Thanks again for all of the input.

post #18 of 24

your comfort level doesn't seem in it for this choir - hope you like the other one!

 

and as you know background checks mean very little- to the other poster that mentioned what else (regarding parenting) they would restrict, one can only wonder- that doesn't sit well either with me

post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 

I agree, serenbat.  Thanks for the support!

post #20 of 24

Hello Original Poster,

 

I was reading your thread.  I'm with you.  For me, it's not even a question of safety.   I just don't like it when a musical organization like that tells me as a parent what I can and cannot do about things like that without leaving room for negotiation.   I can sympathize with and even understand the reasons that the choir has chosen to do what it does, but it doesn't mean that I have to like it.  I was going to suggest that you explore other choirs, because that would have been my next move. I would have voted with my feet.   It is perfectly fine for you to not want to do what that other choir does because there are plenty of other choirs that will be fine with what you want to do. I was going to suggest the very thing that you did, which is to look into other options, and I was certain that you would find something that would please you because I played in a ton of different youth orchestras as a child and there are all kinds, each with very different policies.  Glad you found a solution that you like.
 

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