From left, Sandrock Elementary School students Alyssa Zimmerman, Courtney Smith and Tiffany Hildebrandt pose in the Sandrock Elementary music room Thursday. The three students represented Moffat County in the inaugural Colorado Elementary All-State Choir on Jan. 28 in Colorado Springs.

Photo by Bridget Manley

From left, Sandrock Elementary School students Alyssa Zimmerman, Courtney Smith and Tiffany Hildebrandt pose in the Sandrock Elementary music room Thursday. The three students represented Moffat County in the inaugural Colorado Elementary All-State Choir on Jan. 28 in Colorado Springs.

Sandrock Elementary singers chosen to participate in first elementary honor choir

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Kathy Hildebrandt/courtesy

Courtney Smith, center, a Sandrock Elementary School fourth-grader, poses with fifth-graders Alyssa Zimmerman, second from left, and Tiffany Hildebrandt, second from right, during the Colorado Elementary All-State Choir on Jan. 28 at the Broadmoor Hotel’s International Center. They are accompanied by their music teacher, Julie Laur, far left, and conductor Elaine Quilichini.

At a glance ...

• Sandrock Elementary School students Courtney Smith, Tiffany Hildebrandt and Alyssa Zimmerman were selected to participate in the Colorado Elementary All-State Choir.

• The event took place Jan. 28 at the Broadmoor Hotel’s International Center in Colorado Springs.

• Courtney, Tiffany and Alyssa performed with about 400 other elementary school students from across the state in the inaugural event.

Julie Laur believed Courtney Smith, Tiffany Hildebrandt and Alyssa Zimmerman had what it took to shine on the big stage.

“They’re excellent,” said Laur, Sandrock Elementary School music teacher.

Laur handpicked the three Sandrock Elementary vocalists to represent Moffat County at the Colorado Elementary All-State Choir on Jan. 28 the Broadmoor Hotel’s International Center in Colorado Springs.

The performance, presented by the Colorado Music Educators Association, was the first of its kind in the state and was designed to showcase Colorado’s best up-and-coming singers.

Courtney, Tiffany and Alyssa’s musical knack made them ideal candidates for the choir.

“Just in general, musically, they have high aptitudes,” Laur said.

“They have excellent music recall, which is also necessary for learning a large amount of music in a short amount of time.”

They also have a firm grasp of pitch and rhythm memory, she said, and “they weren’t afraid to sing out.”

It wasn’t their voices alone that made them good fits for the choir.

Laur said she also sought students who had strong character and would “represent our school well” at the event.

In this realm, too, Courtney, Tiffany and Alyssa fit the bill.

“They are very responsible students and (are) trustworthy,” Laur said.

Tiffany and Alyssa agreed performing in the choir was nerve-wracking.

Yet their nerves didn’t overshadow the girls’ appreciation of the event.

“It was kind of an honor to be there,” said Tiffany, also in fifth grade, because there were “really important conductors there.”

Alyssa, a Sandrock Elementary fifth-grader, agreed.

“It was kind of like a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Alyssa said.

Courtney, however, said she wasn’t nervous in the slightest.

She’s had stage experience before, including in Moffat County High School’s 2010 production of “The Sound of Music” and in the Missoula Children’s Theatre’s performance of “The Tortoise Versus the Hare” in January.

Courtney, a fourth-grader, appreciated the chance to perform in front of what she said was the largest audience she’s ever had.

“I think that performing on the stage in front of all those people — it was a very great experience,” she said.

The three vocalists joined students from other schools across the state to perform a series of musical arrangements, including “Mayim, Mayim” a traditional Hebrew song, and “Shake the Papaya Down,” a Calypso tune.

The event culminated with “America, of Thee I Sing,” a “really powerful” arrangement, Laur said.

“Four hundred students singing together was a beautiful sound,” she said.

She believes participating in the choir will leave the three vocalists with a lasting impression.

“I think the more arts exposure (people have,) the more we’re able to relate to our world,” she said. “The more that we get outside of ourselves, then it’s less scary when you’re interacting with different people groups.”

Sandrock Elementary was the sole elementary school in Moffat County that chose to participate in the event, she said, but other opportunities to join may be on the horizon.

“We are hoping that they will continue the event,” Laur said.

If it happens again next year, she said she would definitely consider sending another group of students to compete on the big stage.

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