Story and photos by Lauren Means
Being a teenager can be tough. Being a teenager and a part of the LGBT+ community can be tougher. Luckily, there are special interest groups developing within the Middle Tennessee area to provide all teenagers a place to feel welcome. One of the newest additions is Nashville in Harmony’s (NiH’s) Major Minors choir. This group is all inclusive, very diverse, and provides young people ages 14-18 a safe place to celebrate their diversity. As their informational flyer states, Major Minors “invite young people to be themselves without apology.” With this being their inaugural season, their rehearsals for the winter concert are just underway. Don Schlosser, artistic director, leads the group’s rehearsals. “They have joined because they are kids who like to sing, want to be a part of something, and want to make a difference” said Schlosser. Major Minors program director, Shae Crowell, sits in with the bass section tonight. “We have one adult NiH volunteer assigned to each vocal section as a way to help the teens learn their vocal part,” explains Crowell. “I have to fill in for the bass volunteer tonight. Fortunately, I am an aspiring baritone in NiH!”
There are giggles and laughs heard along with whispering between songs, but once they are brought to attention to begin the next song, it is all business. Some of these teens are members of their school choir. Others only participate with this group. Even though the teens come from different backgrounds and have different stories, they have one thing in common … a passion for music.
They started with eight members for their first performance with NiH for the “Stand! And Be Seen As We Are” back in June 2017. They have since grown to 14 members and counting. Crowell is excited about the growth of the choir stating, “we hope even more teens will join us in February, for our spring season.”
While taking in tonight’s rehearsal, we are in the company of the choir-member’s support team. From parents to grandparents to parental figures, support abounds. “Nice to find a new support system in the area. Love the support, sense of community, and friendship. He looks forward to it. It can be very confusing in adolescence,” said Robert DeSalvo. DeSalvo often brings his girlfriend’s son, Phoenix, to rehearsals. “It’s well worth the drive. She gets to sing with her open-minded and diverse peers,” said Jody Wallace who travels from Thompsons Station with her daughter Mae.
There is also support from other NiH choir members. “Given the high percentages of students without community support and resources, students who may be afraid to live authentically, and lack of professional development training offered to teachers, NiH felt compelled to action,” explained Crowell. According to Crowell, “NiH and Major Minors leadership are passionate about helping students live lives of authentic self-expression and passionate about helping LGBTQ youth create the community of support they need for success.”
And, of course, they support one another. From talking about their time in rehearsal, to discussing their outside endeavors, these teens do lean on one another. They act like a family.
Rehearsals will be wrapping up in November leading up to the first holiday concert for the Major Minors on Dec. 1 and rounding out the season by joining NiH for their holiday concert on Dec. 9. The group is already looking ahead to Spring with rehearsals beginning in February 2018.