It’s so nice to sing again

Choir at West K 2022-23

It is so nice to sing again! After two years of constantly changes rules (and granted this year had a few restrictions that impacted our music making), choir is beginning to return to normal. This year, choristers had the opportunity to participate in many different school and community events. We had two concerts that celebrated our achievements with our choir family, SOJAZZ (Seven Oaks Jazz Fest) in March, Seven Oaks Jazz Showcase in June which had West K, Maples and GC coming together, caroling in the school the last week of December and a Mini “West K Music Fest” in March. Arts in the Park was another highlight of the year. West K was fortunate that most of our ensembles were still able to perform, and we had a great day in the sun singing for other Seven Oaks Schools. We were also so fortunate to work with many different clinicians throughout the year including Dr. Catherine Robbins from the University of Manitoba, Katy Harmer, Cathy Horbas and Avonlea Armstrong-Green. It is a wonderful opportunity to get to sing for, and work with such gifted clinicians from the Manitoba choral community.

What impact does choir have on students?

There are so many ways choir helps students grow. Not only as a musician, but through confidence in public speaking, in taking risks, in developing skills related to teamwork, listening to others, and empathy for one another. Choir helps students broaden their understanding of the way the world works, and how different cultures interact with the world. Choir also allows students to experience beautiful artistry.

A few students’ reflections on choir:

My biggest piece of advice would be that you should never feel afraid to take risks.  No one in choir will judge you for putting yourself out there and trying something new.  You will not only learn more about music, but you will be challenged to grow your own musical capabilities.  Joining in grade 12 allowed me to fully experience just how welcoming everyone there is. You will not only grow as a musician, you will also make friends along the way.” – Grade 12 Student

My highlights in my years in choir would be the relationships I have made with people and hearing them singing. Listening to their beautiful voices and just hearing the song as a choir. It makes me realize that ‘we make this sound’. How good it can be when everyone is singing together with different notes at the same time.” – Grade 12 Student

A personal highlight for me (Ms. Velarde) was the chance to sing a song in Arabic. I LOVE when a student will approach me and ask to sing a song in a language they know. In late November, and Grade 12 student asked for a song in Arabic. My knowledge of Arabic choral music was limited, and my understanding of that language was even less. I found a beautiful piece of music, and together we worked through this song. It was challenging because linguistically, the pronunciation is so different from English pronunciation. I understand basic rules of French, Latin, Spanish, Italian, even German, but Arabic was a steep learning curve for me. The student who asked to sing this song became the teacher and I learned as much as the students, if not more. The second highlight of this piece is the complexity from a musical stand point. It had unique harmonic and rhythmic structures. In addition to being a beautiful piece of music, students developed understanding of different styles. Students also learned about perseverance. There were times when I thought we might not make it, this song might be too difficult. We spent multiple classes on two measures, counting it out together, slowing the music down, and trying to assemble it together. In the end, we got it. We worked together, with my student taking the lead, and me being there for musical support.