Graycie Gardner joined the Milwaukee Children’s Choir (MCC) in the first grade. She was regularly singing in church and developed a deep love of music at a young age. Even at seven years old, Graycie knew the MCC would be the perfect opportunity to make music with others and continue her passion for voice. After joining the MCC, she remained committed to the Choir until she graduated from high school in 2010.
Now a successful performer in Los Angeles, Graycie credits much of her vocal development to her time at the MCC. “Because there was such a vast breadth of musical literature – everything from contemporary, to classical, to pop, to new music, to international music, and more – I was able to develop vocal flexibility, which continues to serve me in my professional career today.” She also credits her advanced skills in aural, pitch matching and sight reading because of the exposure to so many different genres during the essential years of her developing voice.
Graycie’s favorite memories during her time with the MCC are of the people and the art that they made together. Working with such phenomenal artists and directors was life changing for Graycie. She mentioned that the people at the MCC were endlessly supportive and made her feel significant and capable, even from a young age. “The relationships I formed with fellow singers and artistic staff still carries with me today,” she said.
Some of her biggest takeaways from her experiences with the MCC were “stylistic and vocal adaptability, collaboration – learning how to work with others in a genuine way, language skills – developing a good ear and adaptability to be able to switch between languages quickly and proficiently, and general professionalism,” said Graycie. She learned that only when everyone brings their best self to the ensemble can real art be made, and that’s just what every MCC singer discovers during their time in the Choir.
Graycie went on to receive dual degrees in both English and Vocal Performance from Lawrence University, and a Masters in Vocal Performance from University of Southern California. She is currently a professional singer living in Los Angeles, performing in operatic and choral engagements, doing studio session and freelance work, and is a member of the LA Master Chorale. In addition to these amazing feats, she also teaches private voice instruction. As a teacher, Graycie draws on the same skill sets of collaboration and listening that she learned during her time with the MCC.
Her advice to current MCC singers? “Approach everything you do with genuine open-mindedness. Be open to your colleagues, the music, and listen more than you sing. Listening will serve you well in and outside of the music world.” Graycie continued, “Keep going. The world, especially right now, doesn’t always afford music the significance that it deserves. Keep it sacred, hold onto your love for music and what it does for the soul, and find people who will do that with you.”