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Choir is an expression of joy: Join us for a Districtwide Choral Festival!

Choir is an expression of joy: Join us for a Districtwide Choral Festival!

On February 29, something special is taking place at Richfield High School. Students from schools across the district are coming together for a shared Choir concert. The RPS Choral Festival will take place at 7 p.m. in the RHS Auditorium and is free and open to the public. 

Each Choir that will be performing at the festival has been rehearsing a little bit differently. For example, staff at Sheridan Hills and Centennial elementary schools carve out time during regular music classes for students to rehearse during the school day, while staff at Richfield Dual Language School and Richfield STEM Elementary have after-school rehearsal time. At Richfield Middle School and Richfield High School, students rehearse during Choir class.

“I'm excited about the upcoming festival because it is a new opportunity for the students in our district,” said Eugene Sandel, the secondary Choir director. “This festival is an exciting new way to bring different families together and unify our community. I hope that people will see the hard work and dedication of our students and staff that make our Choir programs so special.”

Students are looking forward to the upcoming concert, too. Seventh-grader Soffia has been in Choir for two years now and loves the community that she’s found in her Choir class. She’s looking forward to seeing all of the singers in different grades at the Choral Festival. Her advice to a younger student who is just starting Choir is, “You can do this!”

Tenth-grader Philesha, who began taking Choir in fifth grade, echoes the same advice: “Have fun! Don’t worry about sounding perfect. A good Choir is one that radiates the joy of music.”

“This is the first time in several years that the entire RPS community has gathered for the specific purpose of celebrating and making music,” said Sheridan Hills Music Specialist Steve Mollick. “It is a great opportunity for our students across schools to hear each other, and especially for our younger singers to hear our older ones.”

Choir is more than just singing – students learn about the basics of music, how to read it, various vocal techniques and other concepts relating to vocal production. Additionally, Choir offers freedom of expression and welcomes students of every ability level. At the elementary level, music specialists in RPS say that choral singing is something that builds community between the students. 

“Choir is multilingual – we connect many languages and reading skills to the music,” explained Kari Taylor, the music specialist at Richfield Dual Language School. “It offers an expression of joy, as well as letting their voices be heard, literally and metaphorically. They also learn social awareness of diverse cultures through their music.” 

“A guiding philosophy in our elementary music rooms is to sing, say, move and play every single day," explained Centennial Music Specialist Naomi Hanson, “while working toward state music standards that expect students to perform, create, and connect and respond to music.”

Students also learn self-awareness, self-management, decision-making and relationship skills in Choir. At the secondary level, students enjoy a freedom of expression that is unique to music and don’t have a standardized test or heavy academic milestone at the end, so they can spend their time having fun while learning. “That doesn’t mean we don’t learn or have high expectations for learning,” explained Mr. Sandel, “but it allows students in my room to take different approaches to what they learn and how we assess success.” 

“Students definitely enjoy any activity that ties in what we are learning in a fun way,” he adds. “For example, when talking about the function of the jaw in singing with my high schoolers, we used Tootsie Roll pops to help us feel the space needed to create a tall ‘Ah’ shape.”

Evelyn, a senior this year at Richfield High School, has been taking Choir since fifth grade at Richfield STEM Elementary. “If I could give any advice to students joining Choir it would be to pay attention to learning about singing technique,” she said, “and also get to know your section because you'll end up spending a lot of time with them.” She loves making music with her classmates and getting to sing every day. Her final advice for younger students is… “Join the Choir!!!”

Eighth-grader Lyn remembers starting Choir somewhere around fourth grade. She’s looking forward to singing together with students from other schools and grades. Her advice to younger students is solid: “Don't give up! Sometimes your voice will strain or crack, and sometimes you'll have your bad days, but that's normal, and it's not a bad thing! Sometimes we just need a break, sometimes our voices just need a breather to catch up with all that AMAZING singing! Keep going, and when it gets hard, just stop to think that these are just learning curves and you should keep doing what you love!”

“We love seeing and hearing our most invested students making music together,” said Richfield STEM Elementary Music Specialist Gayle Myles. “Choral singing often provides a bright spot and a feeling of belonging for our students.”

If this story speaks to you or you are looking for a way to get your child singing, talk to any of the elementary music specialists or the secondary Choir director to find out how to get them involved in the Richfield music program!

RPS Choir Concert
7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
Richfield High School Auditorium (7145 Harriet)
Free and open to the public

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