Tonya Megyesi, a founding alumna, talks about her time in the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and how it has impacted her life to this day. She speaks about her experience performing at the Ambassadors’ Ball in 1987 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom and how it was a milestone journey for the choir, but also her own personal life.
A lifetime ago, I was at the Ambassador’s Ball with the ICC, crying as we sang two songs based on Alice in Wonderland, “If I Were Painting the Sky” and “Wherever We’re Going,” hoping my children might be able to benefit from Henry Leck’s incredible teaching someday. Now, my hopes have become reality. My 8-year-old will start working on pieces by him in a week.
I was introduced to the ICC through my grade school choir director. I was only able to be a part of the group until the spring of 1986, but the lessons I learned through my short time of being there have stuck with me to this day.
To this day, the ICC has made a lasting impact on my life. As I grew up and as I gained more familial responsibilities and work obligations, I only stay involved with things that make a difference. To me, the ICC has been one of those things that has remained constant throughout my life, despite the fact that I am no longer around Indianapolis and I haven’t attended a concert recently. It is a rarity to find such a high caliber ensemble for people to be a part of who normally wouldn’t be able to afford something like that. The ICC provides ways for everybody to be involved by how inclusive it is. The organization encourages kids to be a part of something greater than themselves by showing them that they are able to do more than what is expected, and that they have the power to break barriers. Being a part of that organization was so huge at an age when I think many of us needed all the confidence and beautiful sounds we could get.
I was able to raise the bar for myself, and the ICC was the driving force that helped me push myself to achieve personal growth and self-expression. Even if I was already good at a particular skillset, I was pushed to experience my skills in a new way. I learned that I do not have to rely on other people to find out what I was capable of. Mr. Leck respected our capabilities instead of using our growth as just another bullet point to put in their brochures.
The need for quality music programs is more important to me now than when I was in it originally. Because my children are homeschooled, they only have a few music options and choirs throughout our area in Dallas to be a part of. Many of these ensembles are focused on student’s previous music experience and their abilities, unlike the ICC, where they emphasize the fact that students don’t need to be musically trained to be involved. The ICC will teach every child that wants to learn to sing. It levels the playing field for all kids of all backgrounds.
I eventually found a youth choir for my daughter to audition for in a little town outside Dallas. After I met with the director, I explained that my daughter didn’t have any training or background in music, but she has a heart for it. I went on to talk about my own music experience at the ICC with Henry Leck, to which the director’s eyes lit up. She explained how she had so much respect for Mr. Leck and how she tries to use similar methods that she had learned from him.
After telling him of this encounter, Mr. Leck responded by saying, “When we teach, we only hope that someday, what we taught will still carry meaning in the future lives of our students.” I can’t begin to explain what this will mean for my daughter, and for me. The ICC has impacted my life in many ways, and that impact has been carried forward to the lives of my children.