Caldwell County students who sing get vocal push

Oct. 30, 2013 @ 11:04 AM

In the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center on Tuesday, young voices layered together against accompaniment, the same run over and over again until they got it right.

From the middle of the bunch, Robert Waller was coaching them, coaxing them; referring to each kid by a school’s name instead of the one given at birth.

“All right, Granite Falls,” he’d say. “Here’s what I want you to do.”

Waller, an arts education specialist for the Buncombe County Schools, is one of three choral clinicians who were brought in for the Caldwell County Schools’ ninth annual All-County Chorus, held Tuesday night at the civic center.

All-County Chorus brings together students from around the county to practice together during a two-day clinic, then perform together for one night. This year, students from the county’s four middle schools and three traditional high schools formed

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three separate choirs: one for sixth grade, one for seventh and eighth grade, and one for ninth through 12th.

Clinics such as All-State Chorus are a chance for kids to receive more vocal coaching and training – but going to one is not an option for many kids, because the clinics are fiercely competitive, Hudson Middle chorus director Sherry January said.

That’s the point of All-County Chorus.

“It’s very difficult for our kids to make that, because it’s very competitive,” January said. “So we wanted something that gave our kids that experience.”

On Tuesday night, the three choirs performed four or five songs apiece; some in English, some in Latin.

But much of the experience took place before the concert began, as pieces of choirs from different schools were melding into one, with clinicians standing in the middle of it all, pushing the students and pushing their sound.

When you’re the one in charge of the pushing, you come in with a sound in your head – but you have to work from where the students are, Waller said. You have to adjust to that, and gradually bring the kids around to the sound you’re trying to create.

“In a situation like this, you have to be open and receptive to what you’ve going to hear on the downbeat of the first piece,” he said.

All right, Granite Falls. Here’s what I want you to do.