Choir Chant


JK: “At my high school, we had a thing we would do before every choir concert. We got it from our choir teacher who went to Chapman. He said they would do it there before every show. Everyone locks pinkies and stands in a circle. You say “toy, toy toy, be brave, be daring, but above all be alive on the stage tonight.” Everyone starts hunched over whispering it and then you repeat it and repeat it until you are screaming. It was an affirmation before performance time, and really cathartic. When you’re a senior and it’s the last one that you do it’s sad.”

The informant attended a private Catholic high school in Santa Ana. This tradition was a part of her experience in choir there. She participated in it all four years of high school. The chant was done before every performance and served as a bonding experience for the choir.

The chant is representative of many odd chants groups do before a performance. At my high school, we had a similar chant we did before shows. I think such chants can also serve as initiation practices—a new member to the choir would likely not be taught the chant before, rather they would learn it their first time experiencing it with the group. Going from the chant being whispered to being screamed represents the energy level needed to go on stage. It is odd and you wouldn’t do it in the “real world” but the chant is a way to leave the real world and go into the more vulnerable and ‘not real’ world of the stage. By repeating the chant before every performance, it not only becomes a device to increase group comradery and energy, but a sentimental one representative of being a member of the group itself.