Our music teacher, Mr. Charley Miller, shares with us a little of what goes into presenting one of our outstanding Character Qualities assemblies in our Amphitheater:
“Mrs. Deborah Wilcox and I usually start during the preceding summer by selecting a musical theme for the upcoming year’s assemblies. We choose an overall theme that gives us some wide latitude, that will open a new musical vista for the students, and that will fit with their vocal abilities. We decide on songs for each grade that play to the strengths of that class, as we want each grade to enjoy the experience and perform well.”
“About three to four weeks prior to the assembly, I begin teaching the song to the students. It often involves some problem-solving to be sure that the key in within the appropriate range. Ms. Deb and I have selected a background track, usually with full orchestration, that will fit with the children’s voices. As I meet with the class, we learn to sing the song well, often helping the students with the high notes. Our goal is to have a good performance while keeping the beautiful innocence of the children’s voices. Once the class has learned the song, then Ms. Deb spends time with them teaching all the dance steps of the choreography she has designed.”
“In the final week before the performance, Ms. Deb and I select the little songs that we will use as transitions or in the fade-in and fade-out. These may add to the comedy, help to make a point, or inject some extra pizazz!
“Three days before the performance, we do the physical set-up in the Amphitheater. In a traditional theater, this would be called ‘Tech Week.’ We put the tape on the cement as markings for the dancers, take out and set up the sound board, and decide on the placement for all the microphones. We place some mics up high that are specially designed to amplify sound from a longer range, with the other mics on stands that the children speak into directly. When the whole class is singing, we turn off the individual mics, and when the children are speaking we turn off the higher placed mics. Our goal is to have the students sound their very best throughout the performance.”
“We are very fortunate here at PHS to have quite a professional sound system for our performances – thanks to generous gifts from our donors! For a school of our size with the Kindergarten through Sixth Grade configuration, this is quite exceptional. We also have opportunities for our older students to both assist and learn about the technical aspects of sound production at these assemblies.”
“I have to admit that I am something of a perfectionist as to the sound quality during the performance. We do not look for perfection in the children’s performances – that is the beauty of their youth. They really do learn so much when they make a mistake and then recover right in the middle of a song. However, with the sound, I want it all to be seamless, so the focus stays on the children.”
“We have such a beautiful outdoor facility here at PHS, and I am constantly looking to improve the production side of our assemblies. This is something that I really love to do!”
PS – It is worth noting that Mr. Miller also teaches our Kindergarten hand bell chorus, directs our blue-robed School Choir, trains our recorder-playing Third Graders, and instructs our Sixth Graders in the ukelele!
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