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Singing for the love it

Stafford students join Oregon All-State Elementary School Choir


by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE  - Back row, left to right, are Clay Barbee, Reese Freeborn, Claire Matthiessen, James Rowan, Eli Thayer, Caleigh Henderson. Front row, left to right, are Grace Mc Govern, Jenna Koepke and Jake Huttula. Not pictured is Braden Woodworth.Ten fifth-graders at Stafford Primary School have been selected to rehearse and perform with the Oregon All-State Elementary School Choir on Feb. 15 and 16 in Portland.

The students will join singers across the state to perform “Stodola Pumpa,” “Al Shlosha,” “Cantate Domino,” “Sing to Me,” “The Tale of Two Toads,” and “I Vow to Thee My Country” under the direction of Kristina Ploeger.

The annual concert is sponsored by the Oregon Music Education Association (OMEA) — an organization of about 900 members dedicated to music education in Oregon.

Honor choir students at Stafford have participated in the Oregon All-State Elementary School Choir for the last eight years under the direction of music teacher Donna Kagan.

“This year, we have 95 kids in the primary choir from all over the state of Oregon,” Kagan said, noting her students received their music last week. “Their faces just lit up when I gave them the music.”

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE  - Stafford choir will join choirs across Oregon in February. To participate, students must audition, write an essay explaining why they want to participate and have good academic standing. Only 10 fifth-graders — out of about 191 choir students at Stafford Primary School — will join the statewide choir.

“I’m excited because I’m just really into music and I’ve always dreamed about being in honor choir,” said fifth-grader Claire Matthiessen.

The challenge isn’t for uninterested singers. Students must listen to their music and practice on their own at home. Upon selection for the choir, students receive a CD, sheet music and voice instructions.

“Honor choir is for the kids who are really into music and music is their life and passion,” said fifth-grader Reese Freeborn.

“If they get stuck, they can come to me for help,” Kagan said. “I have a lot of faith in these guys. I know they’ll do well.”

Although the performance is months away, the choir is already excited to take on the challenge of five songs written for both sopranos and altos.

“I’m going to practice basically every time I’m singing, which is basically every day and every single second,” said fifth-grader James Rowan.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE  - Stafford Primary School music teacher Donna Kagan leads honor choir fifth-graders.Each student’s practice schedule — and favorite place to sing — varies. Freeborn said she sings from the moment she gets out of bed. Both Jenna Koepke and Grace McGovern love to sing in their rooms. Caleigh Henderson likes to sing in the shower. Jake Huttula said he sings just before he goes to bed and in his dreams while he is sleeping.

All of them enjoy singing at recess. Whether in the shower, at home or in their dreams, each student said they sing because it brings them joy.

“I started singing when I was really little and I just love it,” Henderson said.

“I just like being up in front of people performing,” Huttula added.

“I don’t usually like to show off, but when I’m in front of an audience it’s really fun singing and it makes me feel really good,” said Clay Barbee.

“I like singing and performing when I know that the audience enjoys it,” Eli Thayer added.

For more information about the Oregon All-State Elementary School Choir and the Oregon Music Education Association, visit oregonmusic.org.



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