Twinkle, twinkle, little stars: Jazz Choir teaches elementary students about vocals and choreography

PHOTO: Seniors Angelikoe Organez and Kaia Diel help lead the workshop’s final performance of the song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” from “Alice in Wonderland” along with the other Jazz Choir members.

By Wentao Chen and Arthur Konychev, Staff–

The Davis High Jazz Choir recently hosted a music workshop for elementary school students. The event ended with a performance of iconic Disney songs accompanied with choreographed dance routines.

On Jan. 20, students from Davis’ various Elementary schools came together at the DHS Richard Brunelle Performance Hall for the Jazz Choir’s elementary school workshop, held annually on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This year’s event was named the “Star Power! Youth Workshop.” 

Last year, the Jazz Choir held this workshop for the first time, drawing in about 50 students. This year, with more students wanting to participate in the event, registration had to be cut off at 70 students.

According to workshop parent coordinator Jennifer Nachmanoff, this event began last year after DHS Madrigals director Karen Gardias took over the Jazz Choir for the previous long-time Jazz Choir director William Zinn. The Madrigals had been hosting workshops for many years; one on Veterans Day and one on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but they eventually stopped hosting the Martin Luther King Jr. Day workshops. “We thought that since [Gardias] had experience doing the workshop, we’d try it out in the Jazz Choir as well,” Nachmanoff said.

During the event, senior Sophia Nachmanoff, a student coordinator for the workshop, said that the Jazz Choir believes it is especially important to encourage choir participation among young students on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. “Singing was such an important part of the civil rights movement,” she explained. “This is, in our minds, a great way to honor that tradition,”

Senior Sophia Nachmanoff describes some of the roles taken by Jazz Choir members in preparation for the workshop.

During the event, students were split up into four different groups based on grade level: kindergartners, who performed “Hakuna Matata” from “Lion King,” first-graders and second-graders, who performed “Love Is an Open Door” from “Frozen,” third-graders and fourth-graders, who performed “The Bare Necessities” from “The Jungle Book” and fifth-graders and sixth-graders, who performed “We’re All in This Together” from “High School Musical.”

The song “Love Is an Open Door” is performed by the first-graders and second-graders at the workshop.

These groups were led by Jazz Choir members, who helped the elementary students learn dance routines created by student choreographers to accompany the songs. In addition to their own separate songs, the different groups also prepared a final group song that everyone performed together: “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” from “Alice in Wonderland.”

Junior Jack Jessen, who is a second-year Jazz Choir member, worked with third-graders and fourth-graders during the workshop. He explained that while preparing for the performance, one of the Jazz Choir members played songs on the piano while the others worked directly with the elementary students, making sure to work at the pace of each individual student. “It was really fun,” he said. “Everyone had a really good time.”

After the workshop began at 9 a.m., each group practiced their routines in separate rooms before coming together at around 11 a.m. to work on the group routine together. Then, at around 11:30 a.m., parents were invited into the theater to watch the students perform what they had learned.

To kick off the performance, the Jazz Choir performed a medley of songs from the musical “American Idiot.” Next, the elementary students performed their routines in descending order based on age group, starting with the fifth-graders and sixth-graders and ending with the kindergartners. Finally, the students ended off with the group performance and bowed to the audience, as the parents eagerly snapped pictures of their little stars.

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