Two years ago as a sophomore, we said goodbye to the known and hello to the unknown. Our chorus teacher of thirty years, Mrs. Eckoff, retired and in her place was the young Mrs. Bridges. Not many of us knew how to feel about this experience, but the positive tried to go into it with an open mind.
When speaking with Mrs. Bridges I found out a lot of information about the chorus. Since Bridges has become the instructor, enrollment has flourished. The mixed choir has 39 students, and the cantori (womens) choir has 34, for a total of 73 students in the high school. Although these numbers are impressive, the middle school alone has 56 students enrolled.
These numbers have helped to improve the mixed choir since last year. Along with the growing numbers, the mixed choir has a much more mature female sound. To improve them further, Mrs. Bridges would like to work on intonation and better listening skills, with which we could refine our tonal center. While Bridges believes that overall the women's choir is at the same place it was last year, she hopes that with confidence they will develop and sing out more. With these improvements Mrs. Bridges expects both choirs to attain I rankings in the spring, and to have a, "stellar year as a whole."
Though the mixed choir is young this year, Bridges can see that they are very talented. As usual, the cantori choir continues to produce a mature sound. Despite this, Bridges has her fair share of difficulties. Due to schedules and traditional ways, class is held every other day for the mixed and cantori participants. This has caused problems because students tend to lose a lot on days when they are focused on something else. It is something that Mrs. Bridges is attempting to change, but she has also found great confidence in her leadership this year. Each section of the choir has a leader to keep things in order, as well as a president, secretary, and librarian.
This focus helps the choir in successfully learning and perfecting the music that will be sung this coming October in the first concert of the year. When asked about the underlying theme for the concert, Bridges stated, "When choosing music I don't choose a theme, instead I pick balanced pieces representing many genres, and I go for a variety of difficulty levels. This in turn engages our audience." By effectively learning her choirs abilities, Mrs. Bridges has improved her own skill in choosing the pieces that will be sung.
Due to the fact that many people in chorus are also in the fall musical this year, Mrs. Bridges has pushed back the tryout date for swing choir. Traditionally they are held at the beginning of the year, but shortening the season eliminates a lot of stress put on those who are participants in both. Swing choir members will still perform a Christmas and GR Jazz Show set as in previous years, but Mrs. Bridges plans to throw something else into the short season. Weather permitting, she would like to go on tour to local churches and nursing homes, as well as some in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area.
A few dedicated members of the choir will also be auditioning for All State this coming October. Aaron Shouse and Shelby Yates are already working hard on their music for the festival. Auditions are held in Hampton, and if selected, they will attend the festival in Ames. Pieces to be sung will include two patriotic, two classical, and four modern pieces.
Mrs. Bridges has picked up a lot that Mrs. Eckoff had built up over her thirty years, but with perseverance and a good attitude she has continued to improve upon the choirs of Gladbrook Reinbeck Schools. I am proud to be a member of our chorus, and very much look forward to my last year as a senior chorus participant.