A new choir class with an emphasis on musical theater is being offered at TPHS for the 2015-2016 school year in order to make the music program more “well-rounded,” music teacher Amy Gelb said.
“We have great orchestra, band and jazz programs here at TP, and it’s time to add choir,” Gelb said. “We have several talented vocalists at TP, and they need to have more opportunities to learn and perform.”
According to Gelb, the class will focus on vocal technique, musicality and music theory. The students will put on several concerts, competitions and performances throughout the year, similar to her other music courses.
Although TPHS has had a choral program in the past, the lack of a sufficient number of music teachers at the school has hindered a reemergence of the class, according to Principal David Jaffe. However, an open section in the school schedule next year allowed Jaffe and Gelb to implement their previous plans for a choir and expand the music department.
“In music, you have your instrumental portion of it, but there’s also the vocal side of it,” Jaffe said. “If you do that in conjunction with drama, then you have musical theater, [which] can work [with choir and music].”
TPHS student Chloe Laverson (10), who is taking the class next year, thinks choir will help the drama and music departments by increasing student participation in the programs.
“Choir is really going to add to the musical theater aspect of this school,” Laverson said. “[It will] probably get a lot more people interested and knowing about theater here, so it’s exciting.”
According to Madison Wright (10), who is also signed up for choir, the class would be a way to gain experience with ensemble music, and a great opportunity and outlet to be able to sing.
“There’re a lot of amazing singers at this school who have a passion to sing,” Wright said. “I think with all of us together, it will be a successful class.”
The addition of choir is part of a transition to include more pathway-oriented classes at TPHS, like the engineering and anatomy and physiology classes available next school year, according to Jaffe. The possibility of a seventh class by the 2016-2017 school year also influenced the transition, Jaffe said.
Robin Kong (10) said she wanted to take choir when she heard that it was being offered, but she had no room in her schedule. However, if a seventh period were eventually offered, Kong said she would definitely take the class and thinks many other students would as well.
“Knowing classes like music classes, it’s ideal to meet every day so that you constantly build up on what you have,” Kong said. “If we put choir in [seventh period], having it be shorter yet meeting every day, I think that would compensate for it not being a two-hour block.”
Although Kong said she did not have much experience with singing and choir, she thinks the choir class would create an opportunity to explore something new that she possibly could continue pursuing in the future.
“I think choir would be a bit out of my comfort zone because I’m not the best singer, but I enjoy seeing musicals and compositions, so I want to be a part of that,” Kong said. “Maybe I can develop the skills that are good enough to join, [for example], one of those choir groups in college.”
According to Jaffe, the decision to add the choir class was made after class registration, so incoming freshmen and current TPHS students were notified of the new opportunity after they had made their selections and were permitted to switch.