Students sing to their heart's content in state honor choirs
For the fourth straight year, a select group of fifth graders at Territorial Elementary School got to sing in the Cantaremos Fifth and Sixth Grade Honor Choir before 1,200 people in the Gilbert High School Auditorium.
"You get to meet new people and learn lots of things about voice," said Savannah Coffin, an eighth-grader from Heritage Middle School, who sang in this year's Cantaremos Seventh and Eighth Grade Girls Honor Choir. She has now sung in three state honor choirs.
She added, "Each year we get a different instructor so we learn different things."
Coffin, who hopes to participate next year in the ninth grade girls honor choir, said she keeps participating because each year is a different experience, and it lets her learn more about music than she would in any elementary or middle school.
Jean Dueppen, TES's music teacher who nominated the singers, said this year the Arizona Chapter of the American Choral Director's Association selected all eight of the fifth grade students she nominated. The group of young singers consisted of Ammon Worden, Hayley Feipel, Abigail Presnall, Caitlyn Line, Montana Williams, Shelby McCully, Taylor Wade and Cole Dreischer.
In 2007, 12 of the TES students selected got to perform in the state honor choir. That was way up from the three the school sent in 2006, and one in 2005.
Dueppen said each year she listens to see how the students' voices have grown. "I try to pick ones who are responsible, will follow through and be on pitch," she said.
After getting parental approval, each student must turn in an audition tape. Dueppen then selects the students she will nominate from these tapes and sends the ones she selects to the ACDA, which selects members for its four state honor choirs from 300 tapes.
About a month later the ACDA notifies each participating school of the students who its members selected.
Dueppen said the students then practice for about a month on the four songs they will sing during the honor choir's hour-long performance.
The day of the performance, she said all the students convene in the Gilbert High School Arts and Performance Center at 8:30 a.m. Each group works with its director for the next three hours. After lunch they do rehearsals, get dressed for the performance and do a practice run before the actual 4 p.m. presentation.
For the eight TES fifth graders it was their first time to perform before such a large crowd of people.
Ammon Worden said he enjoyed singing in the state honor choir because he likes to sing and "it's lots of fun."
Dueppen notified Hayley Feipel of her selection while she was in a car on her way back from California. "I kept talking to mom about the fun I was going to have," she said.
As to the actual event, Feipel said, "I really enjoyed being able to sing and learn about notes."
Abigail Presnall said she now understands music a lot more and learned about notes.
"I thought it was exciting to be part of the honor choir because not everyone gets to be in it," Caitlyn Line said.
She added, "I got to learn singing is to have fun and you can learn a lot at the same time."
Montana Williams said she started screaming when notified she was on the state honor choir.
Participating in the event was great, she said, "because I got to do what I like to do, meet new people and learn new musical cues."
Cole Dreischer was very surprised "because it is not every day you get selected for a state honor choir."
"I learned I shouldn't be afraid of singing in front of other people," he said.
All eight of the TES fifth graders plan to try for the state honor choir again next year.
Dueppen said, "I'm so proud of you all."