A Look into the Fargo-Moorhead Youth Choir
Kids ages K-12 from six different school districts in the state — private and public, as well as homeschoolers — get to come together each fall to create music and learn together in the Fargo-Moorhead Youth Choir. This melting pot of kids as well as instructors makes for an adaptable and open minded group of young musicians that end up learning much more than just how to sing.
Hadley, a veteran member of the choir from Davies High School, shares just how much she has taken away from her years of being in choir.
“A lot of collaboration. I think that knowing where you fit in a choir teaches you a lot of things about where you fit in general. It teaches you a lot of life skills, like ‘how do I communicate with this person’ and ‘how do I make sure that I’m balancing with everyone’ and that’s not only musically, it’s like, how do I see myself in leadership roles, and how do I- how do I fit into this group. Not only just sound-wise but personality-wise... and being able to work with someone more talented than you, and being able to work with people who maybe don’t work as hard on their music. There’s just a lot of different variety and I really appreciate that. Because in my choir, I really just work with the same people year after year, but in FMYC there’s people from all over. So, there’s new names to learn, but also a lot of things that they teach me, just being around them.”
A newer member of the FMYC, Kat, has only been involved for one year, but she has already experienced the joy of raising her voice along side the younger members, as they look to her for leadership and guidance.
“I love working with the younger kids. I think it was so cool when we did our mass piece- 'A Child of Peace'- I thought that was awesome. I think it’s just really great to see them grow, and there are always a few kids in particular that I’m like ‘they’re gonna be awesome’ because they already are very attentive, and they listen to their directors and stuff, and I just love the energy that the younger kids have, I think it’s awesome.”
That song was performed this spring by all members of the choir. The community shared between these children of all ages is so clearly a blessing to them, and to all who hear them. “There is Peace” sounds extra sweet when you consider how empty and silent all school theaters were- not too long ago.
The covid-19 pandemic robbed so many students of once-in-a-lifetime milestones, and denied them their outlets for social connection, art, and growth for nearly two years.
Josh Dahl, the Artistic Director of the FMYC, remembers vividly how it felt to lose connection with his students as the isolation went on and on.
“We were flying high and doing great work, and then, all of a sudden, March came around, and we had to close up shop. We tried to continue on over Zoom calls, to try to keep connection, telling kids, you know, ‘when we get back, we’re gonna put this concert on’ and of course... as everyone knows... we never did come back.”
Enrollment in the FMYC took a hit when students were once again allowed to organize and gather together in one space, but not nearly as much as Josh and the other directors anticipated. They boasted 90 members in the 2021-2022 session, which is only 10 less than their pre-Covid numbers.
Just this summer, the group was able to take a 5-day trip to New York where they performed alongside the New England Symphonic Ensemble in Carnegie Hall. Which, Josh says, was an incredible experience to lead.
“When we first arrived in New York, a lot of the group was very huddled towards me as their leader, and following me and being very concerned about where I am and are they in the right spot, and then by the end we were holding kids back because they were wanting to lead the charge. They said ‘oh, let’s take this train, let’s go on this subway, now we gotta take this bus, we gotta go here’ and so it was kind of a metaphor for this organization. We start them off and then they kind of seem like these little chicks, stuck to the hen, and then now, we open up the world to them both musically and literally, and they’re able to spread their wings and... go out on their own.”
This is a glimpse into what’s happening in every practice, and every performance: music and community is enriching the lives of young people in organizations like the Fargo Moorhead Youth Choir.
This program is funded in part by The Arts Partnership, with support from the Cities of Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo.