Take Note

Meet the new Director of Choral Music

262
A man sitting on choir risers.

Robert Boren brings a decade of directing experience to TJC, with stops at Chapel Hill and Nacogdoches along the way. He earned his Associate of Arts Degree in music from Trinity Valley Community College and a Choral Conducting Master’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University. He is an avid piano player and is also the Director of Traditional Music at Bullard First United Methodist Church.

Q: What led you to TJC rather than other schools?

A: This is a dream job for me! I’ve always wanted to teach choir, and community college is a unique place.

Q: What makes you a perfect fit for TJC?

A: I have community college experience. It was one of my favorite times in college. With a mix of my years of music experience it makes me perfect for the job.

Q: What would the students be surprised to find out about you?

A: That’s a tough one. They would be surprised to find out that I struggled in college. It took me five years to get out of community college. So I know the struggle of jobs and ensemble, but I found a way to figure it out.

Q: What about your teaching style sets you apart?

A: I’m high energy, very passionate; I’m kind of a ‘put-the-pedal-to-the metal’ type of guy. We’re going to work the entire time we’re in class, and we’re gonna get stuff done.

Q: How do you measure success in an ensemble?

A: Growth of the musicians as both people and their competency. That’s the bar I use. And that doesn’t mean we’re always going to be perfect, but we’re gonna always strive to get better.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish at TJC?

A: I hope to make this program explode. Be a strong pillar in both the music community and the community in general. I hope to make Tyler proud.

Q: What is your teaching philosophy for both experienced and inexperienced students?

A: I think anybody can sing and be taught to sing so anyone can get better. I don’t believe in some people having it and some people not. Talent doesn’t mean much to me; it’s about work ethic.

Q: If you could describe your life in one song title, what would you choose?

A: “I Did It My Way.” I’m kind of hard headed. That’s been my life story. I had to try it my way first and kind of experiment from it. I’m also very stubborn.

Q: If you could describe yourself as a chord what would you choose and why?

A: You know ever since equal temperament every chord kind of sounds the same. But if I had to pick one I’d have to go B Sharp major. It’s different, you don’t really see it a lot, and it’s spelt fully.

Q: What culture do you want to bring to the TJC Choir?

A: Culture is a big thing in any team or group, but I’m hoping we can create one built on hard work, where the results push you to be better every day. We all strive for the same goal to touch people’s lives through music.

Q: How do you handle ego within an ensemble?

A: It can’t exist. It just can’t happen. It goes back to setting a standard of culture of we’re all in this together. We can’t have ego because it shows that you have a different goal and that’s not what we’re about. And you trying to shine over everyone else kind of messes with that goal.

Q: What would you say to someone who is hesitant in joining?

A: I’d say come try it out! There’s a place for everybody! It’s something that’s God given; everyone has a voice.

Q: If you could perform anywhere in the world where would you go?

A: I would say that the venue doesn’t matter so much, but a really good audience is hard to find. So I guess I’d love to perform in front of a bunch of music nerds!

Q: What rehearsal atmosphere do you want to create?

A: I hope it’s a rehearsal that’s fast paced and informative but also one where we can work toward a common goal, have fun, and express ourselves. The whole point of music is to escape from the day to day. Welcoming, fun, but lots of hard work.

Q: When a choir does not like the piece they are working on, how do you solve the problem?

A: Usually the reason you don’t like something is that you don’t know about it. My job is to give them enough info about the piece and make it relate to them in some way. That way most students can find meaning in some way. I’ve found that pieces I’ve hated the most I loved the most because it was hard love them. And the ones I’ve loved were easy to love.