Victor Hugo once said that "Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." For Heritage Choir teacher Erin Voiles, truer words were never spoken. She invites each of her students to go beyond the notes and words to find music's deepest expression. She often challenges them to think, "What does this song mean for your soul, your mind, your emotions?"
Teaching at Heritage gives her liberty to share spiritual truth in the context of song. "When we study how the voice works," she explains, "we talk about how God has woven our voice into the fabric of our being. We also learn that you have to give up some control to sing at your best. It's a great spiritual metaphor about how we need to give up control of our lives to the Lord."
Voiles firmly believes that every student has the ability to sing. Even, and maybe especially, those who don't think that they can. Over her three years of teaching here, she has seen many students do things vocally that they never dreamed possible, by embracing their unique voice and working hard to develop it.
I want them to know that it's okay; you don't have to be perfect. We'll work on it.
For her 5th grade students up through those in the Colla Voce high school choir, Voiles frequently and intentionally takes them out of their comfort zones to teach important lessons. "This is the room to make mistakes," she explains. "I want them to know that it's okay; you don't have to be perfect. We'll work on it."
Maybe it's that freedom to err that makes Voiles' classroom such a safe place for her students to push themselves musically and personally. "Singing gives students an opportunity to express their emotions in a healthy, beautiful way," she says.
Voiles pursued her own musical interests when she studied Music Education at St. Olaf College, an institution internationally recognized as a premier music school. She is an accomplished professional musician and spends much of her spare time singing with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir.
What transpires daily in Voiles' classroom, though, transcends her academic training and natural vocal ability. There's a spirit of trust, respect and admiration; a connection that's tough to describe. If Hugo had it right, it must be the spirit of music.