By: Sydney Dillon and Bryanna Scalora
When interviewing Wethersfield High School’s choir director, Mr. Rioux, we’ve been able to pinpoint why having music and arts programs are important in schools. While discussing his passion for the choir, he described how being a choir student teaches you important life skills. He said, “There’s so many things that choir teaches that have nothing to do with music that I think are absolutely important.”
In Wethersfield choir kids are expected to learn and memorize multiple songs and eventually perform at a concert. Students are given copies of music to practice and learn their notes, as Mr. Rioux teaches the correct pitch and vocal techniques to use while singing. This requires lots of focus and patience. When asked about the benefits of music, Rioux said, “...it gets people to have the ability to focus, to become a better person, to learn about goals, working in a group, being courteous, respect...”
There are periods of time when Mr. Rioux has to teach vocal parts to other sections, and kids must remain patient and listen. They are expected to have responsibility and practice as well as be prepared for concerts. These are all important skills to have for the future as well. Mr. Rioux said, “We need to have the skills that choir teaches outside of school.”
The word choir means “to sound together” and the goal within a choir is to sound like one voice. When signing it’s important to first learn the correct pitches and notes as well as which octave to sing in. This means students can’t just look at sheet music and sing it right away when first learning. Practice is needed to achieve the proper sound. Much like learning to play an instrument practice is key to mastering the art.
Although Mr. Rioux feels strongly about the benefits of being in a choir, this is also what he’s passionate about. During brief interview he said, “The thing that I love about this is that I’m getting kids to sing Mozart who probably would never do anything other than rap.” Everyday he gets to teach kids classical and other types of music students normally wouldn’t choose to listen to, and sees them grow fond of it. “That’s a passion of mine is giving music to young people,” he said.
It’s no surprise that Wethersfield High has a great choir program, but it’s always nice to see a teacher who’s passionate about the art, and students who are able to learn life skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.