For the final six weeks of the school year, the Oregon Trail Pitchpipers Barbershop Chorus has been teaching a group of students from Gladstone’s Kraxberger Middle School about their craft.

by: PHOTO BY: KYLIE WRAY - Oregon Trail Pitchpipers Jerry Herrmann, Steven Hurst, Wayne Markham and Ken Cox teach their final lesson to the music students at Kraxberger Middle School before their assembly finale. The Pitchpipers have been donating their time to teaching the students about barbershop singing for six weeks.On Tuesday, June 4, they presented their grand finale for the students in the cafeteria at lunch time.

After lining up in their sections, the students clutched their music books and sang 12 songs, including “America the Beautiful,” “Oh! Susanna” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in rounds. However, students showed the most enthusiasm when they got to yell “Yeehaw!” between verses of “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain.”

“They wouldn’t make a peep six weeks ago,” said Jerry Herrmann, a Pitchpipers member. “Now they’re all participating.”

Members of the barbershop chorus were able to teach the students through a $1,745 grant awarded by the Clackamas County Cultural Coalition, which gave them the chance to buy books and materials.

“Without the time that the members have put in, we wouldn’t have been able to make this happen,” said Bryan Dinteman, the Pitchpipers treasurer.

Since the group always has been a big supporter of music education, they feel it is necessary to step in when funding diminishes. The members have donated their time every Tuesday to come and sing with the students.

Pitchpipers member Wayne Markham, a retired middle school teacher, stepped in to put together lesson plans despite not being in a classroom for nearly 20 years. He has been teaching the students from the music book “Get America Singing Again!” a compilation of old American songs. According to Markham, patriotic songs need to be sung as a show of appreciation for America.

After their performance for peers and teachers, each of the students received a certificate of completion for having participated in the program.

But this doesn’t mark the end for the Pitchpipers. With the help of their grant, the barbershop chorus will be going on to teach at Oregon City Middle School over the summer and Canby Middle School in the fall.

“If we can reach one kid, who goes on to sing in the future,” Dinteman said. “That’s our goal, and a new generation.”

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