Story of Empowerment – “Dude, you got to check this out” – Sebastian Vogt and Ten Sing

Date: 11 January 2012

I got in touch with YMCA through friends from my neighbourhood, when I was 15 years old. I had celebrated my confirmation in the local church some weeks ago and I was feeling kind of desperate because I hadn’t done “anything Christian” since then. But after confirmation I was feeling kind of bound to do something – something a Christian would do – with other people – in a community. Luckily my friends knew exactly the right thing to do. Ten Sing! They told me: “Dude, you got to check this out. Ten Sing rules and there are a lot of girls.” That’s what you are interested in when you’re 15. I got to my first Ten Sing rehearsal at the parish hall in the neighbouring town. I was kind of nervous, but it was exactly as they had promised.

Cool people that you could look up to, nice girls and there was something more: Music. Actually a choir and a band.

Music didn’t play a big role in my life before Ten Sing. I had successfully avoided all the options my mom had offered me throughout the last 15 years to get in touch with music and instruments. My tricks: I started crying in the flute-lessons when I was small, didn’t rehearse or I simply didn’t go to the organ lessons when I was older. I was very lazy. But this totally changed through Ten Sing.

I started singing in the choir. And I liked it very much. After one year I sang my first solo on the annual Ten Sing concert. It was an amazing experience. Half a year later our conductor asked me if I want to start conducting. I didn’t know much about music theory – I still don’t – but this urge to get in touch with this new love called music, was so strong. I doubled my effort, prepared the voices and arrangements and worked my way around these “musical disabilities”. I became the main conductor of my Ten Sing group. Then I started playing the guitar and I still do with passion and joy. I was asked to go to regional seminars and teach other Ten Singers how to conduct. It was a great time. The strong, trustworthy and enduring friendships that developed ten years ago still accompany me today.

Ten Sing and the YMCA empower young people to try something new, perhaps something they have never done before. An amazing process for me, that didn’t end at that point. A lot of projects with hundreds of young people followed and I realized that it is much more fulfilling to show these kids what they are capable of when they just try and walk the distance. I became a leader in my Ten Sing region. 2006 something happened, that changed my life: I went to Århus (Denmark), where the European Ten Sing Festival took place. I was amazed. So many people from all over the Europe gathered to live out the slogan of the festival: „Living out…loud!“ Two years and a lot of Y-experience later, Ten Sing Germany decided that the next European Ten Sing Festival should be in Germany. They were looking for a festival area and Ten Sing groups from all over Germany could apply. With two friends from my Ten Sing group in Ziegenhain, a town with 4500 inhabitants, we applied as the venue of European Ten Sing Festival 2011. And we won! Long story short, in these four years between the application and the festival taking place I had the opportunity to meet so many talented and affectionate people, work on projects and ideas that challenged me and the people around me. In the team we found solutions and accomplished something that was a life changing spiritual experience for many young people. Also for me, because with every step I take I feel nearer to god. When these 2000 people from 19 different nations all over the Europe and further away came to my hometown, I was proud and happy and thankful and I still am. Today, I find myself representing Ten Sing Germany in the European Ten Sing Group, working on a common Ten Sing Idea. I found friends all around the world and I think I am finally “doing something Christian”. That’s how the YMCA empowered me.