Andrew Thompson had a clear vision for what he wanted to accomplish after college. Just over a year into his teaching career, he’s already putting his vision into practice. As the new choral director at Nims Middle School, he’s building a program from scratch that he hopes will inspire students and the surrounding community.
“Right now, none of my students, with the exception of maybe two, have ever performed, anything, anywhere, not at church, nothing. We’re learning as we go and, the fact is, they’re doing it,” he said.
Thompson aspires to establish Nims’ first show choir. “I want them to be able to sing and dance and get a full immersive experience of not only what it is to perform but also what it takes to put together a show.”
About 100 students are currently enrolled in the choir. Due to the pandemic, most of those students are participating remotely which creates challenges that Thompson overcomes digitally. All the music is uploaded to a program that students can access and practice at home. They then submit recordings of themselves to Thompson who gives highly personalized feedback and instruction.
Much of Thompson’s initial work focused on creating a culture of trust and mutual respect. “The majority of our students are first time singers, and they’re working to get comfortable with just releasing a sound. With chorus, it’s never going to be instant gratification. It’s OK if it starts off shaky. You know it will get better. We talked about what makes them feel uncomfortable, what makes them feel accepted, what makes them feel left out. They need a safe environment so they can open up their mouth.”
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