Burbank High School choirs are off to a rousing start.
Students of the Vocal Music Assn. dressed in jeans, bandanas, plaid shirts and cowboy hats for the third annual “Carroll’s Corral” inside the school’s lunch shelter on Sept. 19. The title is a play on words, using choir director Brett Carroll’s last name and Corral instead of chorale.
Familiar Western favorites were performed including the title song from the musical “Oklahoma” and “Buttons and Bows”, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in the film “The Paleface” starring Bob Hope and Jane Russell. Between performances, students went to their assigned tables and served up meat or vegetarian chili, cornbread, green salad and lemonade to family and friends. Parents of the Vocal Music Assn. Booster Club cooked up the meal.
The event is the stepping stone for the rest of the year, said Randy Sage, assistant choir director and a choreographer.
“This show trains them for what’s ahead,” he said. To prepare “We did a lot of basic fundamentals vocally — things like breath support [efficient use of a singer’s stream of breath], and placement of the sound [a vocal term referring to resonance]. It’s always a great first fundraiser for us and it’s fun. It gets them out there in front of an audience performing, which is really hard, especially for the young kids.”
Student groups performing were In Sync advanced mixed choir, Out of the Blue intermediate mixed choir, Impressions advanced women’s choir, Sound Dogs men’s choir, and the a cappella groups — the Sirens women’s choir and the Gentlemen’s Octet.
Members range from ninth to 12th grades in the vocal groups.
A lot of the students gain a strong foundation in the show choir programs at the middle schools, he said.
While students will be singing with their groups throughout the year, this first show allows them to sing alongside the more experienced students in the other choirs. The older students serve as mentors and inspire the younger students to aspire to that next level.
Carroll is hoping the students work hard but enjoy it.
“My hopes for the year are that the kids learn and grow along the way like they always do and they have a good time while they are doing it. We want to keep the level of what we are doing at the highest standards so the kids get the best experience possible.”
Four parents won the chance to have choirs sing at events of their choice during the live auction conducted by longtime supporter Shawn Stevens, whose four children went through the program.
Amy Kamm, the PTA Council president, will have the Sirens perform at the Honorary Service Awards dinner in April. Her daughter, Ava, a junior, has been in the program since her freshman year and started singing in choir at Miller Elementary and Muir Middle schools.
“Carroll’s Corral is always a fun event and a great way to kickoff the choir season,” she said.
Willard Woods will have the Sirens perform at his office holiday party for the Writers Guild Pension and Health Fund.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the kids to perform and for the parents, family members and friends to support,” he said. “Mr. Carroll is a wonderful role model for the students and the program produces competitive choirs that are among the top in the country.”
Bidding the highest to have the Gentleman’s Octet perform at their special events were Peter Miller and Shawn Austin.
Funds raised go to the program, which has an annual budget of $400,000. Expenses include bus transportation to competitions, choreographers, costumes and scholarships for students whose family can’t afford the cost to participate, said Ellie Stockwell, president of the Vocal Music Assn. Booster Club.
“It’s an enriching program,” she said. “They learn life skills — how to work together, to be dedicated, responsible and it keeps them out of trouble.”
Stockwell said choir students become so motivated by the program, they work harder in other classes and raise their grade point averages from “Cs” to “As” and “Bs”.
The students devote a lot of time to choir including rehearsals, dress rehearsals and the performances, she added.
“At Pop Show, the last performance of the year, the kids take all they have learned and come up with the choreography for the dances and decide on the music they will sing,” she said.
The Vocal Music Assn. is now gearing up for its next fundraiser “Night of Magic” on Nov. 14 at the Pickwick. There will be food and silent auction. Tickets are $80 and to reserve them, go to BHSvocal.com.