Singers try for all-district choir in Moberly

Lauren Puckett

On Sat. Sept. 17, when it was pitch black outside and most students were sprawled over their beds snoring, choir students dragged themselves out of their sheets, attempted to at least appear awake and made their way to RBHS. There they loaded onto a bus at 6:30 a.m. and made the trip to Moberly High School, the host of the 2011 All-District Choir auditions.
Sophomore Megan Kelly, who participated in district choir last year and auditioned again Saturday, said there were two rooms waiting for students at MHS.
At first, each student has an assigned number and must wait in a line for his number to be called. When it is called, the student must step through the doorway and sing his or her selected song. Then they move onto key signature identification and sight-reading.
Although the audition process is intense, nerve-racking and quick, students prepare to compete diligently. Many students, including Kelly, took lessons with music director Mike Pierson during the summer, and tried to practice their song as often as possible.
“I just get nervous whenever I sing in front of people, because I always get scared about what they think of my voice,” Kelly said. “Sight-reading … is the hardest part because you can’t really prepare for it. … That’s the worst moment, when you walk in and there’s the sheet on a music stand. There’s a recording that says, ‘Go to line whatever’ and you have 20 seconds to look, and then you start singing. It’s a scary experience.”
As each student came out of the blue doors on Saturday, some came out biting their lips or shrugging, others with grins. They spewed to their friends what went wrong and right, and the word heard most often throughout the day was “nervous.”
“I walked into the room and I was doing nothing but doubting myself,” senior Dakotah Cooper said. “But I picked up the book, and I looked at it and thought, ‘Okay, this is what I’ve been doing for weeks. I’ve got this.’… So it was definitely just keeping in my little zone, in my little corner of the room. If you stay in your own world, you’re [going to] be fine.”
For students, making district choir does not just mean having his or her name on a fancy sheet of paper. All students who are admitted to the choir come together on one day, Nov. 5, to rehearse and practice, and in the end they produce a public concert for anyone to attend in Moberly, Mo.
District choir “is a growth experience,” Pierson said. “It’s a good opportunity for you to network with students from other schools and see how they do things at their school. Then you come together and produce a concert in a different atmosphere than what you’re used to at school … and it can only help you grow.”
Choral music is mostly older, harder pieces with high and low parts and a need to be in balance. But for those who try out for district choir, it’s just another way to do what they love.
“I don’t know, singing is just such an important thing in my life,” Kelly said. Singing “tends to calm me down and bring me to a good place and I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t sing.”
For students, it’s about taking what they already have, showing all of it off, and taking the risk with their talent. When they  sacrifice or the show, they will remember their hard work and how it paid off for the rest of their lives.
“Get comfortable with testing yourself because you’re always going to want to achieve more,” Cooper said. “And always have an open mind to keys and learning different pieces and adapting to different styles. But when you’re faced with a challenge, just look at yourself and say, ‘Hey, well, maybe I’ll give it a shot’ and do the best you can. Always make sure you can make something worthwhile out of it.”
By Lauren Puckett