Goshen High School choral director

One of the things I love about choir – and it’s different from any other music situation – is that you’re making music with your body. You can’t trade in your instrument and get a better one. You learn to use what you’ve got, and you carry it with you wherever you go.

We don’t have a ‘bench,’ so everybody will be a part of this experience and use their own selves to do that. I think that’s a really beautiful and powerful thing.

So many things we learn about singing and how to ‘use our instrument’ are the same skills you use going into a job interview, if you have to do a speech, or standing up with a posture that may not be how you feel in an uncomfortable moment.  

One of the things we practice in my class is how do you say to somebody, ‘You’re singing the wrong note,’ and still have it be caring. As much as I would say to you, ‘You have spinach in your teeth.’ It’s not a personal insult! It’s just a statement of fact. Because I care for you, I don’t want this to be uncomfortable. 

Goshen and Elkhart County have a long history of strong music programs in public and private institutions. I didn’t appreciate that until I left and I started doing practicums. I grew up in Goshen. I went to Bethany. Then I went to college in Virginia, and my grad school was in Oregon – so coast to coast. 

I just had no idea how spoiled I was growing up here. 

Also, I think it’s cool, the different kinds of backgrounds and experiences that our students bring to the classroom – a lot of really diverse musical experiences. And not just musical experiences – different lives, bringing their own cultures, ideas, and thoughts into the classroom. It’s fascinating.

I’ve been at Goshen High School for – I think this is year 17. My first school year was 2006-2007. And I love it. Like any job, some parts aren’t my favorite, and some are my favorite, but, man, teenagers? They’re great.

We have our winter concert on December 9 with all the Goshen High School choirs. We do it twice – at 6 and 8:15 p.m. The advanced choir and the Crimson Chorale, which is grades 10 through 12 and auditioned, are doing five movements of John Rutter’s Magnificat together for the December concert, which is exciting to give students an opportunity to do a major work.

I feel like we’re in a little bit of a rebuilding time for choir. Covid was hard for vocal programs. For pretty much everybody that I know, participation in ensembles suffered. What’s interesting about that is that I think, in many cases, adult choirs, community choirs, are getting some new life because people had this time that they couldn’t be together and couldn’t be singing. They’re like, ‘We miss this.’

So that’s hopeful. 

We have great choral music staff in Goshen Schools, and we’re in a really good place, but we might have a few lean years. But the kids are making great music, and we’re doing great things. We just want it to be more of an all-encompassing experience. We want everyone to have the opportunity to be a part of the choir, and not everyone knows about it right now.”