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Magcal Academy (Odawara) "Odawara Boys and Girls Choir"

マグカル・アカデミー (小田原編) 「小田原少年少女合唱隊」

Please tell us how you came to join the Odawara Boys and Girls Chorus and how you feel after joining.

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Leader Kana Fujita, second year student at Seisen Jogakuin High School

My sister who lived next door to me was in the Odawara boys and girls choir, and she invited me to join her. At that time, I was in the first grade of elementary school, and I was a girl who loved singing, often singing in the bath. When I joined the chorus, the older sisters in the chorus always took care of me and taught me various things, so it was just fun. There was a period when I was on hiatus because of the entrance exams for junior high school, but it was very painful that I could no longer practice singing on Saturdays and Sundays, and that singing disappeared from my daily life. When I first joined, I think the choir was about 80 people. In the past, there was a time when there were more than 100 people. It is a pity that the number of people has decreased for various reasons now. However, since the number of members is small, the power of each and every member is very important, and I am very grateful to be able to sing together. It's a chorus, so we can't sing alone, and if even one person is missing, our chorus won't be able to sing.

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Sub-leader Yoshiko Ishida, 2nd year student at Hiratsuka Gakuen High School

When I was in the third grade of elementary school, I went to see the Odawara boys and girls chorus concert held in Odawara. It was so good, it looked fun, and I wanted to go inside and sing along with it. At the time, I was worried about whether I would be able to act in a group, but here it is normal for the older ones to take care of the younger ones. Taking care of younger people isn't part of my daily life, but what my seniors taught me when I was little, I think I have to tell them now. I think it's wonderful that friends who like to sing gather and sing with the same purpose.

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Former leader Chiharu Moriyama, third year student at Odawara High School

I entered when I was in the second grade of elementary school on the recommendation of my grandfather. At the time, my grandfather saw the Odawara boys and girls choir and choirs from overseas singing together, and was surprised at the high level of singing. When I joined the group, I realized that singing not only strengthened the sense of camaraderie, but also allowed us to have an international exchange. It was a great experience to be able to go abroad to sing songs and have a homestay experience in a foreign country. I had a homestay experience in the Czech Republic, and although we spoke different languages, we were able to communicate with each other by trying to understand each other. And I was deeply moved when I was able to sing Czech songs together and felt connected through singing. I really enjoy singing.

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Makoto Satomi, 1st year student at Seisen Jogakuin High School

I've loved singing since I was little, and my grandmother, who was a chorus singer, recommended me to join the Odawara Boys and Girls Choir. I entered when I was in the first grade of elementary school. It seems that my grandmother had heard from her choir friends that this was a good place to sing in a children's chorus. The choirs are from different schools and grades, so everyone takes care of each other like one family. I also like the fact that you can make friends with people of all ages that you wouldn't be able to meet just by going to your own school. I feel that practicing singing is very rewarding because the group of friends gather for the purpose of singing.

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From left to right: Chiharu Moriyama, Kana Fujita, Makoto Satomi, Yoshiko Ishida

When asked what distinguishes the Odawara Boys and Girls Choir from other children's choirs, they all answered that the leader, Mr. Kuwabara, has a warm personality, that he is international, and that the group is run by volunteer parents. He pointed out what was going on. It seems that there are also opportunities to invite choirs and musicians from various countries such as the Czech Republic and Indonesia to perform together and receive high-level instruction. There is no audition at all when joining the army, and anyone who likes singing can enter.
Chorus is not just about one person doing well, but it is important for each person to speak out while maintaining a balance as a whole. He said that by caring about each other, the feeling of being united through singing is very enjoyable.

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A star badge is attached to the chest of the refreshing uniform. The number of star badges indicates the number of years of enrollment. It seems that some families continue to sing with two generations, the choir "Mulberry Chamber Choir" composed of choir graduates and the active choir.
Their main activities include family concerts, regular concerts, training camps, Christmas concerts, singing at nursing homes, and joint concerts with overseas choirs.
In addition, he showed me this handwritten notebook.

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This is a notebook that has been a tradition since the beginning of the Odawara boys and girls choir. She writes about how she felt after the performance, and when something happens, to connect with her instructor, Mr. Kuwabara. If you take a quick look, you will find Mr. Kuwabara's response to the comments that he was nervous singing in a new place, each time with soft words. How many books will this be for the 55th anniversary next year? I felt that the reason why the tradition has continued for such a long time is because there is a strong relationship of trust between students and teachers.

Finally, I would like to ask Ms. Taeko Kuwabara, the instructor. What is the significance of continuing to teach children's choirs for 55 years?

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Taeko Kuwahara

I want children to feel the joy of heart-to-heart communication through singing. I think that singing has the power to let out all the unspeakable emotions of adolescence. Singing it makes me feel refreshed. It will also enrich your heart.
It seems that the choral population is declining not only in Japan, but also in other countries such as Europe. One of the reasons for this is the declining birthrate, but I am concerned that there are more and more children who want to use their smartphones and the Internet to do everything on their own. I wonder if everyone feels cooperative and trying to achieve something is troublesome. When it's time for me to retire, I plan to entrust my successor to Haruko Kuwabara, who lives in England and is a member of the 10th generation of the choir, who is currently serving as music director. She returns to Japan every month to teach, create music before performances, and act as a bridge with overseas choirs.
We are currently recruiting new members from the 1st grade of elementary school to the 2nd grade of high school. Would you like to experience the joy of singing in harmony with your voice and heart? My goal is to increase the number to around 50.

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