MCHS Jazz Choir inspires elementary students |

MCHS Jazz Choir inspires elementary students

East Elementary students treated to music workshop

Nicole Inglis
East Elementary School kindergartner Hunter Parfrey reacts to MCHS choir students introducing themselves at the beginning of their visit.
Hans Hallgren

With each chorus of “Inky Dinky Do,” Tanya Kunkel’s second-grade music class grew louder.

They had begun quietly, pointing to their noses and chins, but by the time they reached the final verse about their toes, their voices rung clear as they sung in unison with the Moffat County High School Jazz Choir.

On Thursday, the choir, directed by Daniel Mullens, visited East Elementary School to run a workshop with Kunkel’s classes, and they were eager to join in as the second-graders performed their favorite songs.

Thursday marked the first time MCHS has sent a choir to do a workshop with younger students, and Mullens said the groups have much to learn from each other.

Kunkel was pleased with her students’ attention to the high school choir.

“They’re just so enthralled,” Kunkel said of her students. “We’ve had no behavior problems because they are sitting there with wide eyes. I hear them as they leave saying, ‘That was so cool.'”

Mullens showed the second-graders how the exercises he uses in rehearsals are similar to methods they learned in Kunkel’s class.

He took his choir through several exercises throughout the day so no single session was the same.

From a cappella songs to demonstrations of high and low vocal ranges, the elementary students were treated to a wide variety of entertainment and education.

One of Kunkel’s classes performed “Bruder Jakob” in a round.

Mullens then had his choir show how they could use solfÃge syllables (do, re, mi, etc.) in a more complicated round.

By the time the jazz choir got up to 15 parts, the confusion had the second-graders rolling on the floor with laughter.

“They can really see where they could go with singing, especially the boys,” Kunkel said. “I have a lot of boys in here who love to sing, and even if some people think that’s not so manly, they can see these great role models.”

Mullens said the workshops are valuable to the high school students, as well.

“It gives them a chance to be role models and interact with kids,” he said. “They show that you can be this age and still love music, and what can happen if you stay with it.”

As for the second-graders, Mullens saw what he called “hero-worship” in their faces.

“It’s really just an investment in the future,” he said.

Kunkel saw the same rapture in her students’ expressions.

“They all love music,” she said. “My favorite part is just seeing it in their eyes.”

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