Men’s Chorus trades in ties for tools

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Most every BYU student is familiar with the adage “Enter to learn, Go forth to serve,” but many find it hard to fit service in with rigorous study schedules. The BYU Men’s Chorus has found a unique way to make an impact in Utah County.

Every year members of the group seek an opportunity to serve in the community. Over the last week, the sharply dressed singers teamed up with Habitat for Humanity, trading their blue blazers and ties for hard hats and work gloves to help build a home in Orem for a family in need. As a part of the project the choir will also hold a benefit concert at the Heritage School, which helps at-risk teens. All proceeds from the concert will go to Habitat for Humanity.

The Men’s Chorus has a goal and mission to change the world. Director Rosiland Hall said the service they render is one of the ways they are striving to accomplish that goal.

“I think the combination of service and music touches hearts in a unique way,” Hall said. “I often say to the Men’s Chorus that our ultimate goal is to change the world. If we can use that music to do even more good in the world than we accomplish just by singing a concert, so much the better.”

Hall has been directing Men’s Chorus for more than 10 years. In that time the choir has taken on a number of service projects, from singing in juvenile detention centers to providing Christmas presents to boys living in a halfway house. No matter the project or the group of men, Hall said one thing has remained constant: These young men live to serve.

“I have noticed that these young men love to serve and giving them the opportunity to do so is full of advantages,” Hall said.

Beginning last Saturday, the choir has collectively given 24 hours of service to help renovate an Orem home that was donated to Habitat for Humanity. Each day this week a team of 15 men has gone to the house and worked for a few hours, then rushed back to campus for choir rehearsals. Though they’ve been busy, the men say it’s been worth it.

Nathaniel Gardner, chorus president, said one of the greatest benefits of service is the change it renders in the choir.

“One of the things that’s important is to help the men change themselves and through service we not only change the world, but we also help the men feel good about the work they are doing,” Gardner said.

Ben Betteridge, a chorus member from University Place, Wash., said the experience has helped him focus more in rehearsals.

“I think it’s given us a great goal,” Betteridge said. “t’s a pretty quick concert and to do it for service it makes me want to try even harder to get the music down.”

Nathan Veech, a native of England, said as a university student it is easy to get caught up in the competitiveness of grades and class ranks, but this project has reminded him to look outside himself and strengthen the people around him.

“Something that BYU focuses on is not that you’re better than the person next to you but that you better the person next to you,” Veech said. “It’s more important that we help everyone around us to succeed than it is that we push them down so that we shine.”

Abe Collier, second-year chorus member, said he just loves the chance to do some good.

“This has been an amazing opportunity for me to see the effects of my labor,” Collier said. “All throughout my time in college I’ve been grateful for chances I have, not just to go forth and serve, but to start serving now that I know and have the habits when I go out.”

Hall said while excellent performance is always the choir’s priority, she is certain this experience will stick with her singers for years to come.

“They will never forget this project they’ve done this week with Habitat for Humanity,” Hall said. “It will be with them forever; hopefully it will change them forever.”

The concert will take place Saturday March 3 at 7 p.m. at Heritage School in Provo. Free parking will be available at the Scenicview Academy at Heritage School Drive in Provo. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students, kids 6 years and older, and $35 per family.  Tickets are available online at habitatuc.org/events/concert.html or at the door.

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