Making Friends:

Burke and Blake Simmons of Honolulu, Hawaii

By Helen S. Phillips

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    Suppose you are a good singer who really likes to perform. In addition, you dearly love soccer, and this year your team has a good chance of winning the league championship. The trouble is that you have to choose between them. Would it be a hard decision?

    “Yes! It was hard!” declared Burke Simmons (10) and Blake Simmons (8), brothers who gave up playing championship soccer in order to join the world-famous Honolulu Boy Choir. Both were auditioned and interviewed by the choir director, Dr. Roy Hallman, before being offered places in the choir. Blake was enthusiastic about joining the choir, but Burke hesitated. He was not sure that he could make friends in such a large group of boys. But when he learned that there were at least ten other boys in the choir who were Latter-day Saints, he put his fears aside, and both brothers became members. Within two months they were singing solo parts and had learned not to be nervous when in the spotlight.

    Right from the first it was hard. They had to practice, practice, practice—after school every Monday and Wednesday and on Saturdays. From the beginning they learned that unexcused absences were not permitted and that tardiness had a high price. If a boy is even one minute late for a performance, he is not allowed to sing in that concert. Now the brothers are in the habit of being on time for everything—church, school, and concerts.

    Is all the hard work worth it? “Yes!” Burke and Blake both agree. They think that the best part about being in the choir is taking trips and learning about the culture and customs of other countries, although performing is fun too.

    Whether at home or traveling, the Boy Choir members are required to obey strict rules of behavior. This applies especially to performances, where absolutely no fidgeting is permitted. Now sitting still in sacrament meeting is easy for Blake and Burke.

    Another Boy Choir rule: no bad words are allowed—ever! Blake and Burke like that rule.

    Burke and Blake live in Honolulu, Hawaii, with their mother, Cindy, their father, Calvin, and two sisters, Candice (7) and Chanelle (5). The brothers attend Kamiloiki Elementary School, where Burke is in the fourth grade and Blake in the third.

    Burke’s favorite class is social studies because he likes to learn all he can about Hawaii. He collects baseball cards and thinks that Dale Murphy of the Atlanta Braves is super! He is happy to curl up with an interesting book, especially if it is an Encyclopedia Brown mystery. He is also reading the Bible, and the whole family is reading the Book of Mormon, as President Benson advises. Burke is a Blazer in Primary, and he loves to sing Primary songs. “This year I bore my testimony in sacrament meeting, and it was more scary than singing a solo,” he said. “But it made me feel good!”

    Although Blake’s best grades are in math, he also loves art. He is a Valiant A and likes singing time in Primary. Old Testament stories such as Daniel in the lion’s den are Blake’s favorites. He likes family picnics on the North Shore and buying shaved ice as a special treat.

    Snorkeling is the family’s favorite activity. They have made it a family project to identify as many different fish as possible. Singing together is another favorite family activity, one that Blake and Burke enjoy as much as singing with the Honolulu Boy Choir.

    Photographed by Helen S. Phillips

    Simmons family ready for church

    After an ocean swim

    Playing at the beach

    Candice, Burke, Chanelle, and Blake

    Ready to snorkel

    Honolulu Boy Choir uniforms