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DEYOUNG: Grand Haven school district has incredible music programs

Matt DeYoung • Jun 8, 2018 at 1:00 PM

When I was in school (several decades ago), the only music I was interested in came via my CD player (which was still new enough to be considered cool).

Never once did I consider joining choir, band or orchestra. It simply wasn’t in my wheelhouse.

Fast-forward to today, and somehow, through no contributions on my part, my children are all very musically talented, and musically driven.

My daughter, a freshman in high school, participated in both the fall and spring musicals at Grand Haven High School, and recently earned a spot in the advanced women’s ensemble at the high school next year.

My son, an eighth-grader, is in both jazz band and honors choir at Lakeshore Middle School, and will join the Buccaneers’ marching band this summer.

My fifth-grade son loves to sing along with his big sister, and tries out for every solo opportunity in his choir at White Pines Intermediate School.

Even my 8-year-old gets into the mix.

After dinner, it’s not unusual to hear tunes from the piano or trumpet floating up from the basement, or the strum of a guitar, ukulele or mandolin coming from one of the bedrooms. Oftentimes, we’ll hear two or more of the kids working together on a song, one singing the harmony and the other the melody (honestly, I don’t even know what that means).

As the kids have become more involved in the various musical offerings through school, I’ve found my rear-end parked in the seats at the various school auditoriums countless times over the course of the school year. And each time, I have the same thought — this is absolutely amazing.

It’s incredible what these students can accomplish musically at such a young age.

Last weekend, we watched with a smile spread from ear to ear as two dozen GHHS students performed “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” Kennedy Quirin was incredible in the lead role of Elle Woods, her blonde curls bouncing across the stage. She evoked laughs, and even a few tears, with her heartfelt performance.

The rest of the cast was equally as impressive, dancing and singing and keeping the audience in stiches all night.

The same thing can be said for “Anything Goes,” which the high school performed this past fall. Madison Smits shined in the lead role; while Nick Vance, Andrew Barney and many others showed off their talents on the stage.

The work that goes into these performances is mind-boggling (our Memorial Day weekend was spent at home so our daughter could attend lengthy rehearsals each day of the holiday weekend). The finished product is awe-inspiring.

A week earlier, we were at GHHS for the seventh- and eighth-grade Collage Concert. I had no idea what this was until I attended and learned that it’s a year-end show featuring all of the bands, choirs and orchestras from Lakeshore Middle School, intermixed with solos and duets from various students.

The talent that these youngsters put on display is fantastic, and the final song — “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” — with the choir, orchestra and band all preforming simultaneously brought the audience to its feet.

This is a credit to the incredible leaders of the music departments at our schools.

I don’t hear much about the kids’ math and science teachers, though I’m sure they’re all fantastic. But my kids speak glowingly about Parks Payton, Brian Ambrose, Benjamin Rogers, Dustin Stoner, Iain Novoselich, Brenda Jeisy, Mari Jo Koedyker, Juli Dick and Tracy Bonga.

Kudos and thank you to these and all teachers who foster a love of music in our youngsters, and who inspire them to reach new heights.

Matt Deyoung is the managing editor of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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