Temple of music requires energyPublished 5:24pm Saturday, August 17, 2013
COURTLAND—The term boot camp might have been a more accurate description for the choral workshop held at Southampton High School from Wednesday through Friday morning.
With her right hand on the keyboard, and the left shaping junior Stanley Crawford’s face, guest director Tiffany Temple vocally encouraged him until he reached the desired note. A few minutes later, she had senior Shaiquan Johnson get on the floor in a push-up position to demonstrate a point about breathing and posture.
All the while, Temple’s making herself heard in the chorus room with a rapid-fire patter one might expect from a drill sergeant, but without the cursing and screaming.
But the York High School choral director wasn’t above referencing bodily functions when necessary. Temple told Johnson and the other students about the “group bowel movement, that extra push to get things going. It’s silly stuff, but it works.”
Crawford, 16, who’s also learning to play guitar, said he came to the workshop through Johnson, 17, who already plays percussion in the school concert and marching bands.
Singing and playing will likely become a personal hobby for himself, Crawford said, adding he’s thinking about becoming an audio engineer.
Marketing in music, real estate or sports appeals to Johnson, he said.
Following her work with the guys, Temple commanded the sopranos to stand and led them through a rhythmic movement and voice exercise.
Then she paired off with chorus students such as Danyelle Nettles wanting some one-on-one coaching.
“Last year was my first in chorus. I can sing alto and soprano, but I’m more comfortable with soprano,” said Nettles, 15.
“My daddy always says he likes me to sing,” she continued. “I want to better my voice and go to District and All State (competitions).”
Eventually, Nettles added, she’d like to make a career from singing.
It was in high school where Temple began to develop her musical career. Chorus is what kept her from dropping out, she said.
“I was the kid who wasn’t supposed to succeed,” said Temple, giving credit to her chorus teacher, Betty Forrest, who “gave me the extra push.”
That encouragement led Temple to go on and earn a bachelor’s degree in music from Christopher Newport University and a master’s degree in administration from Cambridge University.
Teaching chorus isn’t for someone with low stamina.
“If I didn’t have the energy, they wouldn’t exert the energy,” Temple said. “It gives me joy.”
Stephen West, who directs the choruses for both the middle and high schools, said he was quite pleased with the workshop.
“Oh, it was great,” he said. “This is the fifth year I’ve done it, and it was one of the best. We had a good number of kids – 28 – from middle and high school.”
“Tiffany’s one of the best,” he continued. “Real physical, as you can tell. That’s really necessary to help kids get out of their shells. She was bringing things out of them.”
West, who’s already taught for five years in this area and four previously in Georgia, said he’s definitely picked up ideas from Temple’s style, which will be used in his own classroom.
“I’m excited,” he said about the upcoming year for concerts, of couple of which will be in October.