The two octaves and four strings of a ukulele. A five-gallon paint bucket turned upside down and used as a drum. These aren’t the symbols most people picture when they think of The Choir School.
But when Artistic Director Elizabeth Lenti handed down plans for the fall curriculum, the introduction of ukulele and bucket drumming made perfect sense to Garrett Law.
“You start to feel the music when you play an instrument. It’s such a tactile thing, where singing is kind of taking a note from the air. So you can feel what C Major is like. And that rewires your brain and I hope that will help kids with their understanding of music,” Law, The Choir School’s assistant director said.
“You’ve got Anglican choristers playing ukulele — it’s such a dichotomy. But a part of me really thinks that’s what The Choir School is. We’ve got these giant choir nerds [the staff, he says], but we’ve got artists, we’ve got people who play other instruments, and I think it just shows the creativity of the staff and the choristers. We’re not just Anglican choir. It’s not so one-dimensional as many think we are.”
It even has Garrett asking why we’ve not done this before. It fits the program, he says, because The Choir School has always been anchored by a broad sense of music education.
“I think our kids are exposed to the whole gamut of music and I think we’re capable of anything we’d want to do. We draw from so much. We’ve got church music, we’ve got spirituals, we’ve got classical, and a lot of jazz,” he said, humbly adding that “we kind of can do it all.”
In a season that will undoubtedly be different, certain things are pretty much the same. That’s because the organization’s always had a robust music education curriculum and has always been there for our students, forming a tight community that Garrett says is more critical now than ever.
“In a world that is so challenged, I know that we give people hope. There’s still beauty. There’s still choral music. Nothing is going to change that.”
As to how The Choir School adapted, perhaps bucket drumming is a fitting metaphor.
“We didn’t miss a beat. We’re still going, on the same page. Same rhythm.”
Story by Geoff Yost ’08