School Bulletin: Middle school choirs celebrate collaboration

School Bulletin: Middle school choirs celebrate collaboration

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- School rivalries often start as east versus west, but in Oak Creek, East Middle School and West Middle School came together through music when last year's concerts were cancelled.

"It was something that was tough -- to give up our concerts," Amy Baker, the choir director at East Middle School, says. "But then we came up with something really awesome in place of it."

Baker and her counterpart at West Middle School, Jacob Warne, say they didn't want the pandemic restrictions to stop their students from performing. Their alternative plan was to record the classes as one group.

"By recording everyone's voices and putting them together, they all got to contribute to the same songs the way they would have, had they done a concert," Warne says. "[They were] just never in the same room at the same time."

During the spring semester, each grade level mastered a different song. The 6th graders tackled "Count on Me," by Bruno Mars; the 7th graders sang "We Won't Stop Dreaming," by Pinkzebra and the 8th graders did "Shine Like Stars," also by Pinkzebra.

Warne wound up with hundreds of individual student tracks, and he edited it all together, adding instrumentals to the background. Baker then took the final recordings to create the videos to be shared on YouTube.

"We just wanted the kids to have something to keep that was positive from the year," Warne says. "They can always look back on [it], and listen and say 'That was the year I got to experience what it's like to be in a recording studio and be a part of something so unique.'"

The hard work of the choirs and their directors has paid off. The recordings of the 6th and 8th grade choirs will be played at the annual conference of the Wisconsin Choral Director's Association, which is in Milwaukee this year.

As for another choir collaboration, both directors say they'd be open to it. But concerts are back this year, so their students are preparing for their upcoming shows once again.

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