It’s 8 a.m. on a Monday morning and all the adults from Choir 71 are at a weekly planning meeting. So what happens with the children when the “cat” is away?
Their discipline is not lost. The children behave in the same orderly fashion with maybe a bit more giggling and teasing.
To ensure this, every week the adults in Choir 71 identify an outstanding child with leadership skills to lead the team. This week Denis Opio, a 9-year-old boy becomes captain of the ship.
Before he begins calling the children together he is interrupted by Pamela, a 12-year-old girl who has also been chosen to lead in the past. “Denis, I’m taking these two with me outside. They have not yet mastered the moves for “Heirs,” she says as she slips out of the room to train the two children.
When the children have all gathered around him, Denis gives them their first instruction. “Vocal warm ups. We start with vocal drills and then…”He’s distracted by some children who are still playing hide-and-seek.
“Today, we are going to run through all the songs, starting with the Canadian national anthem. Let’s continue with the warm ups.” It seems as if Dennis has the entire morning planned out and under control.
As part of their vocal exercise, they lay down and do push-ups, followed by sit-ups.
It’s now time for the actual practice. Denis ensures that every child is singing right. When he hears one of the children singing off key, he pulls his chair closer to listen again. He then asks them to start over.
“I love leading and I feel happy when the children listen to me and follow my instructions. But sometimes they don’t and this makes me feel bad,” he says, revealing his passion and frustration.
Since Denis started training for choir, he has been a very lively boy, excited about everything especially taking lead in all activities.
“He’s strong-willed and goal-oriented. He gets frustrated when the entire choir makes mistakes during practice,” explains Solomon Ndawula, his uncle on tour.
Denis will also stand up for the other children and hold the adults accountable to their words.
“He’s very observant and quickly learns from the adults. He sees a part of our character that interests him, and he will pick it up,” Solomon adds.
During training we nurture our children’s God-given talents. We encourage their good habits and help build their character.
One hour later when the aunties and uncles return from their meeting, Denis hands the team over to Brian Mwaka, their team leader.
In unison, the rest of the group thanks Denis for leading them through practice as they rush back to their positions and continue with their day.