The Message of the Myth: My First Time Out With the Masters of Harmony

Dr. Chris Peterson, Jul 8, 2008

As the former director of an international medalist chorus, I have always been curious about what other choruses do to prepare for the big stage. Over the years I have seen other top choruses rehearse, and I always take the opportunity to pick the brain of a fellow director whenever possible. It has been my pleasure and also my honor to have been a part of the Masters of Harmony contest cycle in 2008, and I have been asked to offer some insights into my experience with all of you.

Before I joined the MOH, there were a few myths I created in my own mind concerning the way things were done in the chapter. For one, I assumed that winning an MOH gold was just a matter of going through the motions. I figured that the men should be able to work up a two-song set, and then just win primarily on talent and reputation. This myth was shattered almost immediately as I watched Mark Hale and the MOH leadership drive the men to their limits every week, and then demand more of them. It became clear that this was NOT a show-up-and-win chorus at all, but a group of men with big hearts, big dreams, and an unstoppable desire to live up to their amazing reputation.

Another myth I carried into my first rehearsal was that everybody in the chorus was above average in singing and musical talent. I knew that my guys back in the Midwest Vocal Express were mostly average guys who worked really hard, but I figured the MOH didnít need to teach the kinds of things that I had to teach my men in Wisconsin. Wrong again! The MOH has its share of stars, but its backbone is made up of a whole lot of average guys who work their tails off to be called a Champion. The fundamentals of great singing, breathing, articulating, performing, and entertaining were taught and reinforced every week. Many of the phrases I had uttered to the MVE every rehearsal were echoed by the MOH leadership all the time.

One other myth I created was that 140 men on the risers didnít need to work as hard as 70 because of their sheer volume and visual affect. While this seems like a plausible theory, I was so wrong again. The main reason we averaged 95 in Nashville was because of the incredible performance and commitment of every man in the chorus. No one got to go along for the ride . . . every man contributed everything he had.

In the end, I couldnít be more impressed with the Masters of Harmony. My myths have been shattered: Never once did I feel like the men expected to show up and win. Never once did I feel that our talents alone could win gold in Nashville. Never once did I feel like I could let down and coast on the work of others. Never once did I feel like the leadership had let us down. We worked as if a score of 100 was the only score with the potential to win, and we are rightfully proud and deserving of our accomplishments. I now know from the inside that gold does not find a champion, but that a Champion creates gold through habits of excellence. I am so very proud to be a member of this great chorus, and I want to thank every man for welcoming me into the fold, and for appreciating our amazing journey to this most awesome prize.

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