On September 24, 2016 the Terra Linda Choir sang three songs at Summer Fest in San Rafael High.
Before the Performance
The Terra Linda Choir, much like all the music ensembles, is newly formed, however they all have performances sooner than expected. The Choir specifically has less than half of the class from last year returning, making it harder to perform as early as they need to. Given that most of the time the Choir, Wind ensemble, Orchestra, and Jazz band has around four months to perfect three to five songs, having to perform the second month of school after not having been in a more advanced class is very challenging to pull off. “I think we have a chance. There are some kinks to work out, but we have a fair chance,” says Brandon Westerhoff, a senior and returning choir student. Westerhoff says,“It is going fairly well. People aren’t very confident at the beginning, but over time, and I’m noticing it now, the performers are getting more confident.” The returning choir students from last year are able to learn fairly quickly, however new students that have no prior musical knowledge other than singing with their favorite songs or have little time under their belt can struggle to learn in this time frame. Even so, the choir students are trying to work hard at learning their new songs while learning brand new things about music all at once. The choir can definitely learn three songs in the amount of time given, however the types of songs are what make this timespan particularly harder than most years.
Compared to last year, the songs used this year are more choir based songs. Last year, they sang “Best Day of My Life,” “All About That Bass,” “Beyond the Sea,” and other similar songs. This year, there are three songs: “Africa,” “In the Dark of Midnight,” and “Let There Be Peace.” “Africa” isn’t hard to learn, like the other two, however it is in the normal type of music that people listen to. The other two songs, “In the Dark of Midnight” and “Let There Be Peace” are harder to understand because the genres are different.They have since gotten past this struggle, but it doesn’t mean they have each song down. The question stands: Is this enough time for practice? A long time musician, Zane Hornick, states that “It depends on the teaching method… Another week would have definitely shown much difference.” When also asked if the performance came too soon, Hornick responded, “You can’t control when gigs come and when they come you gotta take em’… Even though some players aren’t up to par … it’s about the musicians experience. So we take the gigs.” While Hornick may not be on the choir, he has multiple years of experience and is on the Terra Linda Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble. The choir has its hands full, but they are still practicing for this performance.
After the performance
The choir performed and did well compared to the performances before them. The classes before them were mainly elementary schools and a middle school who danced instead of sung. After the performance, everyone who watched the spectacle gave legitimate praise by telling the students their strengths and weaknesses, while favoring their strengths. The songs they sang had some challenges, because people were singing publicly in a festival for the first time and were nervous, but the bumps mainly seemed to only be noticed by the performers themselves. Westerhoff says, “It was better than how I thought we were gonna do…It was good as it was gonna get with that time frame. Compared to the people before us, we did really well.” A lot would agree with him too.
The songs did stand out from the other performed songs, but they flowed well enough to give the audience a different music type than expected. Since the festival wasn’t for music, like performing orchestra music and types of music like this, the choir went in headstrong and performed different songs than the other choirs. Daniel Tomson, the music teacher for Terra Linda High, says, “I think we performed pretty strongly, but more time is always good.” The choir performed strongly in everyone’s eyes. Now that this performance has passed, we hope to see the choir improve and perform better at every performance.