Northside, Midland Middle and Double Churches Middle enter Glee competition

spauff@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 30, 2011 

The music students at Northside High, Midland Middle and Double Churches Middle have their wish lists.

New sheet music. Stage curtains. New pianos. Money to pay for an accompanist and for travel to choral competitions.

“Everything we do costs money,” said Jan Hyatt, the choral director at Midland Middle. Each program is allocated some money each year from the school system’s budget, but students usually turn to fundraisers, like selling candy and citrus fruit, to help defray the costs.

But this year the classes are hoping to get a little help from a famous -- though fictional -- television high school choir.

The choral programs at Northside and Midland and the piano class at Double Churches are competing in the Glee Give A Note contest, named after the popular Fox television comedy about a high school glee club. The contest’s mission is to support arts in schools by awarding $1 million dollars in prize money to music programs in jeopardy throughout the United States.

Each school is competing to win one 73 cash prizes -- ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 -- to buy music and instruments. Winners will be chosen based on two voting rounds. First is the public voting phase, where people can go to the Give a Note website and vote once per day until November 7 for their favorite school. The 500 schools with the most votes will be judged by music education professionals, who will pick the final 73 winners.

Each program submitted a video about their accomplishments and what they would use potential prize money for.

Students at Midland Middle wrote a blues song about their wish list, then filmed the video in the cafeteria. Hyatt said she got the idea for the video after she saw kids beat-boxing on a table at lunch. Parts of the video were improvised, like the students standing up on tables to sing and dance.

“It was a challenge and they stepped up to it,” Hyatt said.

Eighth grader Sydney Garner got a solo in the video and said being in front of the camera felt natural. “I felt really comfortable with it.”

At Northside High, the students in the competition choir say they would really like a piano with keys that don’t stick, money to pay for an accompanist at concerts and new sheet music. They sing about it in their video.

Several of the students are familiar with the Glee television series. Senior Sinclair Perry said the school’s competition choir has one thing in common with the fictional glee club.

“They are more like the family we are. We are like a family,” she said.

Sue Ellen Williams, the piano and chorus teacher at Double Churches Middle, said she would use the prize money for a piano lab, with new electronic keyboards equipped with headphones. The piano class is a new addition to the school this year and right now students rotate practicing on four pianos, often drowning each other out when they play.

“It’s really hard to practice at the same time,” said David Apiag, a seventh grader. David and many of the other students in the class couldn’t read music at the beginning of the school year, but now can play through simple pieces like “Ode to Joy” and “Fur Elise.”

“I usually play sports in my free time, but I wanted something else to do,” David said.

Williams said the class teaches students musical skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

“It helps them to be well-rounded. It gives them something else to do that they probably wouldn’t have done,” she said.

Sara Pauff, 706-320-4469

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