Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Choral MPA 2015

Yesterday, 60 students from Fletcher Senior High School traveled to Mandarin High School for Choral MPA.  MPA stands for "Music Performance Assessment" and this is our "district sing-off" so to speak.  Just as sports teams have their district play-offs, so does the Florida Vocal Association have their district festival.  I took both of my advanced choirs to festival yesterday and was so pleased with the way they represented our school and our choral program.  These are some of the finest young men and women at our school and I am so blessed to have them in my program.  They are smart, witty and talented.  They can also sing!!

It was a pleasure to prepare for Choral MPA this year.  I loved the songs and they worked well for both choirs.  I am sometimes frustrated by the FVA requirement of having to choose one of your performance songs from the FVA list or the Texas List.  I felt like I chose well this year and there was a nice contrast between the songs.  Ladies Chamber Chorus sang, "Cantate Domino" by Giuseppi Pitonni and "Grace" arranged by Mark Hayes.  Vocal Ensemble sang, "Ching-a-Ring Chaw" by Aaron Copland and "Stars I Shall Find" by Victor C. Johnson.

Each chorus prepares two songs and must sight-sing for a cumulative grade.  The rating scale is a 5-point scale - Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent and Superior.  The judges were very consistent in their ratings for each choir.  All three judges gave ratings of "Excellent" this year.  Ladies Chamber Choir nailed their sight-singing example and received a "Superior" rating.  Vocal Ensemble's was a bit more challenging and they received an "Excellent" rating.

I could not be more proud of my singers for showing up to sing yesterday.  As the old saying goes, "An Excellent is an Excellent!"  Students - hold your heads high and continue working.  Our Spring concert will be awesome!!


Combined Choirs of
Duncan U. Fletcher Senior High School
Neptune Beach, FL

 FHS Ladies Chamber Chorus

FHS Vocal Ensemble


Until next time...


Monday, March 9, 2015

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?

Ah, yes....The Spring Musical. 

It's that time of year again where the dividing line between Chorus Student and Drama Student becomes blurred.  Because it is a musical and not an actual play, lots of my chorus students audition and many of them make the cast.

This year, I had five chorus kids who played leading roles in the musical "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?" If you attended a Catholic school as a kid, this musical would definitely resonate with you.  You would laugh your socks off!! The rest of us get most of it, but not all of it.  We don't have the background knowledge or the first-hand experience, but we can appreciate it for what it is - good musical theatre!!

Tylor, Jacob, Jesse, Rachel, Jonathan

The Spring Musical is a collaborative effort between a very talented group of people:

Tina Fallon - Director
Shelli Long - Musical Director
Cindy Kidder - Choreographer
Tom Ming - Technical Director
Tom Fallon - Technical Support/Set Design/Props

Congratulations on another fine Fletcher High School Spring Musical production!!

Until next time...


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Chanticleer Master Class

Chanticleer.  Anyone know the reference?


Chanticleer was the rooster that crowed with attitude in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales."
  

Chanticleer is also a Grammy-award winning men's a cappella choir that performed at St. Paul's By-the-Sea Episcopal Church on January 25, 2015 as part of the Beaches Fine Arts Series concert season.  This phenomenal group of singers has toured the world celebrating the gift of fine music-making.  They are masters of the Choral Art and we were blessed to experience first-hand what it is like to sing with an ensemble of this caliber.  These guys "sing with attitude!"

 Chanticleer

The Ladies Chamber Chorus of Duncan U. Fletcher Senior High School was invited to participate in a Master Class the day after their concert.  We were joined by the University of North Florida Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Cara Tasher.  What an incredible experience for my singers!

Each choir was asked to come with 1-2 pieces of music that were "performance ready."  Each choir would have 30-minutes to "workshop" their pieces with four of the singers who had remained behind for this "Artist in Residence" experience.  My girls were nervous about singing in front of these guys.  They weren't sure what they would say about their sound.  They are young singers, but they have a lovely sound.  The first words out of Kory's mouth were, "Girls, you have a lovely sound.  Now, let's see if we can make music with the sounds you are producing."


 Master Class facilitators from Chanticleer


 Ladies Chamber Chorus - Duncan U. Fletcher Senior High School
Neptune Beach, FL


They spent much of their time trying to help the girls understand that it is their job to communicate the song to the audience.  Their faces must reflect the text and their bodies must support the sound so that the audience engages in the aesthetic experience.  Their job is to move the audience to another place; a place where beauty overtakes them and they resonate with the sound and the message of the song.

St.. Paul's By-the-Sea is a spectacular venue for choral singing.  The church is built out of cocquina - a mixture of concrete and small shells - a unique form of building material used primarily in coastal cities.  The acoustics are excellent for ensemble singing and the concert series is free.  It is a "win-win" for choral music afficionados in our area.

I would like to thank the men from Chanticleer for enlightening my students and building their confidence in their own abilities as singers.  I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to Kathy Wallis, Executive Director of the Beaches Fine Arts Series, for bringing Chanticleer to Jacksonville Beach and providing my choir with the opportunity to experience their music both at the concert and in our workshop the following day.  It was an awesome experience that will resonate with my students for many years to come.

Until next time...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Concert Etiquette

Last weekend, I was in Tampa for the Florida Music Educators annual conference.  I decided to attend the middle school treble concert on Saturday morning.  I had signed up to monitor the mixed chorus' rehearsal the day before, so I was given priority seating for this concert.  I chose my seat carefully and settled in while frantic parents dashed about trying to find the perfect seat from which to see their little chorister.

Unfortunately for me, a woman with a toddler in a stroller decided that her perfect seat was the one directly behind me.  The little guy was a bit fussy before the concert, but was entertaining himself in his stroller with his sippy cup and a toy.  Ten minutes before the conductor walked out onto the podium, it became evident that the little guy had pooped his diaper.  There is no smell on the planet like a poopy diaper.  I know.  I changed enough of them as a young mother.  This particular woman found it humorous.  I most definitely did not.

She had ample time to remove the child from the premises, take care of business and return before her little darling sang their first note.  The woman leaned over to the person seated next to her and stated, "I would take him out, but he's quiet now.  As long as it's not bothering him, I'll leave him alone."  I guess she never considered that the smell might be bothering those of us in close proximity.  Since there was nowhere else I could sit, I sat with my hand over my nose and mouth for the next 45 minutes.

For all you concert-goers out there, please understand that it is important to consider those around you when you are sitting in an audience.  It is never appropriate to holler or scream your child's name from the audience.  Flash photography is extremely distracting.  Recording the performance on your iPad breaks copyright law and is no fun for the person sitting behind you trying to watch the concert through your 13" screen.  Excessive cologne can be a choking hazard for those of us with sensitivities to certain smells.  Talking to your neighbor, getting up and walking out in the middle of a piece of music, clapping at inappropriate places during the performance -- each of these things is unacceptable to the performers on the stage and to their conductor.

If you're not sure when to clap, the best rule of thumb is to clap when the conductor's arms have returned to their side.  If it becomes necessary to leave during the performance, please wait until the song is finished and the clapping begins before you quietly exit.  Turn off all cell phones and pagers.  The glow from the screen is distracting.  Remember that a concert is not a sporting event and requires a bit of decorum.  If your baby becomes disruptive (or poops their diaper), please remove them from the auditorium as quickly as possible.  Those trying to enjoy the concert with you will be most grateful.

Until next time...


Sunday, December 14, 2014

'Tis the Season to Make Music

O.K, Folks....It's December and with the onset of December comes much music-making.  The Fletcher High Chorus has certainly enjoyed their share of it!!

Actually, it all began back in November on Veteran's Day and has morphed into the holiday season.  We sang on Veteran's Day at Beaches Veteran's Memorial Park, at a fundraising event at the American Legion Post 129, and at "Holidays in the Village," a fundraiser for the Beaches Historical Museum.  The following weekend, we performed at "Christmas in the Park" for the City of Neptune Beach and supported Interact's fundraiser for "K-9s for Wounded Warriors" at Slider's.  Our Holiday Extravaganza concert with the band and dance team at Fletcher was last Thursday and tonight is "Deck the Chairs" - a fundraiser for the Volunteer Lifesaving Corps of Jacksonville Beach.  We will be spreading cheer to holiday travelers on the 18th at Jacksonville International Airport.  And so it goes....

It is a busy time of year for a musician.  I was a charter member of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in my early 20's and I recall December being extremely busy with  performances of Handel's "Messiah."  In my former life, I was a church musician (worship team, children's choir director, adult choir director, soloist, etc.) Three to four services on Christmas Eve, "Holiday Hallelujah" performances, "A Bethlehem Visit" live nativity, midnight mass, candlelight service - you name it - I sang in it!

As I reflect on this aspect of my life, it makes me tired...but it also makes me happy to know that my musical gift has brought so much joy to thousands of people in our community.  My hope is that my students will one day look back on the madness and say, "I sacrificed my time and my energy to bless others" and it was worth it!

I will be planted in the crowd tonight at "Deck the Chairs" to encourage others to join in with the Christmas Carol Sing-Along at the end of the show.  I hope to see you there!!

"Deck the Chairs" - 2014

BEAM food collection station

My peeps!

Boys from the 'hood
 Until next time...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Holidays in the Village

Back in the day, our little town was affectionately known as "Pablo Village."  I guess that's where the organizer of this particular fundraiser for the Beaches Historical Museum got the idea for "Holidays in the Village."  Interior Designers from around the community decorated holiday tables and the Singing Senators were asked to perform along with the Sharkapellas of Ponte Vedra High School.  The organizer wanted the beaches communities represented, and represent, we did!

True to form, my students rose to the occasion and attended after-school rehearsals to prepare for this event.  We had no idea a polar vortex would drop down on NE Florida this particular evening.  I must give credit where credit it due - this event was scheduled over our Thanksgiving holiday from school, it was 36 degrees outside on November 28th and we were standing in wet grass singing Christmas Carols for an hour.  Brrrrrrrr..........

Love these students...they were such good sports!
Thank you, Noah, for being the only male in our midst!

December is one of our busiest months during the school year. You can catch the Singing Senators at the following community events over the next several weeks:

Friday, December 5th - Christmas in the Park at Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach - event begins at 6 pm

Sunday, December 7th - Interact Fundraiser for K-9s for Wounded Warriors - Slider's - 5 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, December 11th - Holiday Extravaganza featuring the FHS Band, the FHS Chorus and the FHS Dance Ensemble.  7:00 p.m. in the Fletcher High Auditorium.  Tickets are $5.00 at the door.

Sunday, December 14th - Deck the Chairs at the Sea Walk Pavilion - free.  Performance begins at 7:00 p.m.  Nancy Dance Studio, a string quartet and a mass choir composed of singers from area churches, Fletcher Middle School and Fletcher High School will perform.

Thursday, December 18th - Jacksonville International Airport - 10:30 to 11:00 a.m.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, Ya'll

It's Thanksgiving Day, 2014.  My eyes popped open at 3:00 a.m.  It would be hours before I needed to start cooking.  What was I to do?

Well....I decided to grade papers.  I brought a crate full of music theory books home, several concert reflections my Honors students had written and Christmas music on which my beginning piano students had to "write in the counts, letter names and fingering numbers" so we could learn it more quickly upon our return.

Only one problem...my eldest son is home from college and is sleeping in one room, my youngest son has the flu and is crashed out on the sofa in the living room, my husband is snoring in our bedroom and my 91-year old father-in-law has taken up residence in another room.  The only place I could find to work was in the bathroom.  The garage wasn't even a consideration; it's too cold outside this time of year.

It is now 5:47 a.m. and I am very happy to report that my work is done (at least for today).  I wish I were the type that could return to the bed, hunker down under the covers and go back to sleep, but I've never been able to do that.  I was trying to figure out how to make a cup of coffee in the kitchen without waking my sick child in the living room, but haven't figured that out yet either.  Lord knows, I could use one.  It's cold on the bathroom floor and my feet are numb from lack of circulation.  Time to get up, move around and greet the dawn with a grateful heart.  I have life, breath, a job, a family that loves me, a roof over my head, an old car that gets me where I need to go - and lots of sunshine!!

Wishing all my readers a very Happy Thanksgiving.  There is much for which to be thankful today.

Until next time...