Choir Director juggles nodules, busy schedules
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Nodules are small blisters formed on the thin folds of the vocal cords caused by overuse of the speaking voice, improper singing, a prolonged cold or just weak vocal cords to begin with. Choir director Hilary Morton has struggled with nodules for 17 years.
Morton noticed the prolonged hoarseness and inability to sing normally in late July and was diagnosed with polyps on her vocal cords in October. Polyps are nodules, but fluid-filled and harder to get rid of. Because of this, Morton has to go on vocal rest as much as she can at work and all of the time outside of work.
“Being a choral director who can’t sing and can barely talk is more frustrating than I can answer in words,” Morton said.
Morton had surgery to remove the nodules on Dec. 11. She was completely silent for five days, then amped up the talking by 25% each week. By the time she came back to school, she was at 75%.
“It was a learning experience for both Morton and the class as we tried communicating a couple of ways,” senior Tucker Click said. “I’m glad she is able to speak again.”
The surgery got rid of the polyps, but not the nodules.
“I’m very frustrated, as this surgery was supposed to really help, and I have sat in silence for so long trying to recover,” Morton said.
Juggling her busy schedule is hard for Morton with vocal re- strictions. An average day for Morton is jam packed. She arrives at about 7:45 a.m. to do the administrative part of running the choral department. She then spends the rest of the day directing, along with accompanist Jamie Bone and co-director Maggie Burk, the seven choirs at Free State.
“Without Ms. Jamie and Ms. Burk’s help I couldn’t do this,” said Morton. “They get things done when I have no voice to give.”
In addition to the choir rehearsals during school she has Cham- ber Singers rehearsals Monday nights and Feminist Club every other Wednesday. With Encore, she works Wednesday and Thursday nights and attends rehearsals throughout the weekend.
“Encore is an additional full-time job, but it’s such a great ex- perience for the kids,” Morton said. “I love doing it, but it definitely exhausts me.”
Although there are difficulties that come with her career, there are also great rewards. Morton says the most fulfilling thing about her job is the kids.
“Working hard with 380 of the best people in the world every single day and making beautiful music together is the best feeling,” Morton said.
Morton’s hard work despite difficulties has paid off according to Click.
“As a person looking to pursue music as a career, she is an ideal role model for pursuing the arts with dedication and fervor,” Click said. “I have been taught to work hard and to only be satisfied with the very best.”