Approximately 200 middle school students from 11 schools and 6 counties recently had the opportunity to participate in a collegiate choral experience at the University of Mount Olive’s Middle School Honor Choir Festival.
Coordinator of the event, Jonathan Saeger, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of the UMO Concert Choir, noted that this is a much needed event in the world of middle school music, especially since COVID-19.
“When COVID began, many schools did not allow students to sing or play instruments for a year inside the school building,” Saeger observed. “It is going to take a while for some of our school programs to get back to where they were in February of 2019.”
The Choir Festival provided an opportunity for students to come together and sing together again.
“I think it has been too easy to become isolated and too focused on individual activities over the past two years,” Saeger said. “In music, especially in music ensembles, we are all working on how to create music and achieve a common goal. It was our goal with this event that students be inspired and go back to their individual schools and tell their friends about the opportunity that had to sing with 200 other singers.”
The event also provided a source of growth and relationship building for UMO’s prospective music educators. “Our students were given the opportunity to meet area middle school teachers and build rapport with them,” Saeger said. “These connections can be invaluable down the road as our students graduate and seek employment opportunities.”
“This is the third year that the Kenansville Elementary School Advanced Honor Choir students participated in the UMO Honor Choir Festival,” said Daphne Vann. “As of yet, my students have not stopped talking about how much fun they had during this event. They loved the friendly atmosphere of the college setting, the uniformed UMO t-shirts and gifts, the brain break activities, and how much fun it was to sing with other students from the surrounding counties who love to sing just like they do. The whole process of auditioning for the KES Advanced Honor Choir, preparing songs for UMO, and participating in the festival has changed the overall idea of learning music at the next level for my students. My students expressed their amazement of the differences in their vocals from the rehearsals to the live performance, all thanks to Mr. Saeger’s training and this wonderful enrichment opportunity. As a middle school music teacher, I too enjoyed watching, singing, and learning from Mr. Saeger’s vocal techniques and witnessing his patience as he worked with all these talented students. Now, my students understand the true meaning of music appreciation, quality repertoire, and singing from the heart. From deep within our hearts, we extend our gratitude to Mr. Jonathan Saeger and the University of Mount Olive for this wonderful opportunity to share the love of singing! We can’t wait to do it again, next year.”
A concert was held at the close of the event featuring the participants singing song selections from Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, and France.
- Western Hartnett Middle School
- Arendell Parrott Academy
- Greenwood Middle School
- Midway Middle School
- Norwayne Middle School
- Spring Creek Middle School
- Frink Middle School
- Kenansville Middle School
- Jacksonville Commons Middle School
- Rosewood Middle School
The concert can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/c/UniversityofMountOlive