The Stettler Elementary School Show Choir, which numbers upwards of 50 students, has a busy season in store.
Grade 4, 5 and 6 students can sign up for the choir, which performs at the Stettler & District Music Festival as well as other occasions in the community such as the popular Festival of Lights, explained director Tricia Kirby, who has been leading the choir for the past 15 years.
“I think it’s neat when we first start – we learn a piece and we bring it up to performance quality. And then to see it touch the audience. Sometimes, the moms will come up to us afterwards and say, ‘I had to fight back tears’.
“Our seniors also always love to see the children – they’ll say, ‘That brought a tear to my eye’, or ‘That touched my heart’.
Getting to a place of such quality certainly takes work, but the students are clearly up to the task.
“The way you get there is simply by dedication,” said Kirby of the choir.
“It also takes self-control – you have to stand still, you have to try your best. You have to look at the conductor and to remember what we practiced. Everybody has to work together, so it’s a group effort that takes dedication and perseverance. You have to work at it to get to the final product.
“With music, it teaches dedication and the importance of working at it.”
No auditions are held. The only requirement is that students are willing to try their best and co-operate, she added.
Rehearsals are also quite short – just 20 minutes once a week – but it’s incredible to see the progress the young singers can make in that span of time, she said, adding that Beth Lynes served as accompanist until this past June, having been replaced by Rhonda Sylvester.
“It’s amazing what we can get done in the 20 minutes each week.”
Looking back, Joan Rushton launched the choir program during the 1993-94 school year.
Most recently, the Show Choir was awarded ‘Adjudicator’s Choice’ for their performance at the Stettler and District Music Festival this past April.
As mentioned, the Choir keeps a busy schedule the whole year through, from performances at the school’s Remembrance Day Ceremony, the Festival of Lights’ Seniors Tea and Stettler Elementary School Christmas Concerts to the school’s Leadership Day and the aforementioned Stettler & District Music Festival.
For Kirby, it’s a fulfilling experience to see the young people grow in confidence as the months pass and they hone their musical skills.
“One student was saying, ‘Oh, I get nervous in front of an audience’. I said that’s okay, just look at me – we are doing this together. It will be fine. So it gives students a chance to be onstage and perform and have a few of those nervous jitters – but in a very positive environment.”