Last Spring we told you about the nomination process for Mr. Scott which was the first step on this exciting journey. He was nominated [alongside Mr. Zamborsky] by his peers in District 10 which is comprised of Allegan, Ottawa and Kent counties and this past June the nominations were narrowed down to only 3 teachers by the Executive Board of the MSBOA. Then, in December, those 3 band and 3 orchestra teachers are voted on by the statewide membership of the MSBOA. The winners are announced in January at DeVos Hall during the performance of the All-State Band and Orchestra performances.
Knowing that no teacher works alone, Mr. Scott is especially grateful to his fellow staff at Jenison: “The music department is a rare group of professionals who are all tops in their profession. They are all wonderful teachers who consistently amaze me how they show their love for students, music and education. In 2002, Carol Johnson joined the orchestra program, taking over the JH program and her partnership is one of the biggest reasons Jenison has the orchestra program it has today.”
We join the MSBOA in saluting you, Mr Scott! We’re so proud to have you on our team!
Each January, music educators from the entire state of Michigan gather in downtown Grand Rapids for the Annual Michigan Music Conference. They attend sessions presented by leaders in the field and also listen to selected school musical groups. The conference is recognized for setting a standard of excellence philosophically and musically throughout the state.
Various school groups are selected to perform based on audition recordings that are submitted by their directors the previous spring. In the past thirty years many Jenison Choirs have been chosen to perform at all levels: elementary, junior high and high school which is something we, as a district and community take great pride in. However, this year, as a result of a blind audition the 7 – 9 Male Chorus was invited to perform during the MSVMA Choral Hour at the JW Marriott Hotel. Only six choirs from the state were given this honor and ours was the only choir to include students at the junior high level.
While the quickly swelling crowd waited for the previous session to wrap up the Jenison Male Chorus worked on their focus with mental warm ups. The other selected choirs from Traverse City and DeWitt also waited but it was impossible to ignore the 94 young men dressed in their tux jackets and ties.
When they took the stage, they were greeted by applause and performed four songs: two in Latin with complex harmonies and two that were upbeat and included some different stylings. The final song, “Coney Island Baby” even included choreography and was a genuine crowd pleaser, earning the group a standing ovation.
Director Steven Waters, a veteran teacher of 29 years who has been with Jenison for 18 years, had this to say in appreciation of the young men he works with:
“I think the thing that is most unique about our group compared to others is that it is an all male JH age (grades 7-9) group. The second thing that sets them apart is that they aren’t an auditioned group. The other choirs that were selected are all “select” , elite choirs from their respective schools. We refer to our choirs at the JH as “y’all come sing” groups. Our Male Chorus is also unique in that it’s a JH aged choir that routinely sings 4-part acappella literature which is very challenging.”
If you’d like to catch an upcoming performance of another Jenison Choir please join our JH girl choirs performing in the Jenison Center for the Arts with the Lakewood Area Choral Society (LACS) on Tuesday April 1.
“This is a unique opportunity for our students to perform jointly with an adult group. We’re hoping this encourages them to view singing as a lifelong activity that is healthy and rewarding. The LACS is a phenomenal auditioned community ensemble of 110 voices and is directed by former Jenison Choir Director Bob Oster.” – Steven Waters
Congratulations Male Chorus! We’re proud of you!
What Diane Shrems expected to be an average Friday night football game in Jenison this fall turned out to be anything but average. She was with her best friend and co-director, Karen Ambs, listening to students sing the fight song for a piece of candy when Karen handed her a stack of letters saying, “I want you to read what everyone thinks of you.”
They were her colleagues’ letters directed to the Michigan Music Educators Association [MMEA] nominating Diane for the prestigious award of Michigan Music Educator of the Year. Diane was overwhelmed to tears with the outpouring of support and kind words.
Fast forward to this winter, when Diane received a call during an especially stressful rehearsal. She told the unknown caller that she was dealing with a crisis and that he would have to call back later. She hung up without another thought to who he was or why he called.
Much later that day, Diane was catching up on her work, only to discover a short email from the President of the MMEA apologizing for disrupting her rehearsal but wanting to let her know that she had been named the MMEA’s Educator of the Year. He added that he should know better than to contact a music teacher during holiday rehearsal season!
Diane loves working in Jenison and has done so for 23 years, calling it the “best job on the planet” and her students “amazing and respectful.” She is humbled by the award saying that, “after reading the letters I realized that it is truly a team award. My team makes me strong; without them I couldn’t be who I am—the team allows us to be the best.”
Co-director of the JPS Elementary Honors Choir and the Bobcat Choir [made up of 100 5th & 6th graders]. Diane’s list of accomplishments is long:
- She also co-directs the vocals for the JHS annual musical and is excited to be part of the Wizard of Oz this spring.
- Presented at the Michigan Music Conference, university general music workshops and the MMEA Fall workshop
- Awarded for excellence by the Jenison School Board
- Served on the Board of Directors of the MMEA
- Regularly a mentor to student teachers
But those awards and recognitions come in second place when compared to “seeing the excitement in kids when they connect to each other with music.” Seeing that interaction is her favorite part of the job, and she is most looking forward to continuing to perform at the new Jenison Center for the Arts. The thought of giving her students the chance to perform on a stage that “is worthy of their talents” and seeing them connect with an audience is a thrill she has long awaited. Diane said she is especially thankful to have an administration that supports the arts and with that, she says, “the sky’s the limit.”
The Music Educator of the Year Award will be presented on Saturday, January 18th at the annual MMEA breakfast and meeting at the Michigan Music conference held here in Grand Rapids. Congratulations, Mrs Schrems! We’re proud to call you one of our own!
After two years and over 50,000 man hours of dreaming, designing and digging, the Jenison Public Schools Center for the Arts opened this week to hundreds of expectant community members. Supported with over 390 tons of steel and boasting 1,251 seats, we are so privileged to provide a beautiful, well-appointed home for the arts for generations to come, and above all, wish to thank this community for making this vision a reality.
The stage, whose floor is certified by the American Dance Association, spans 90 feet in diameter and touts a one-of-a-kind retractable dividing wall, enabling casts and crews to better customize their performance space. With over 3 miles of cables hidden beneath the stage and 60 locations for microphones, students will be heard–and seen– from any point in the hall. In fact, despite the soaring ceiling and custom wood chandelier, the furthest point from the stage in any direction is just 85 feet! Performances are also able to be broadcast live, with 8 different recording tracks available so that individual singers can be isolated out from the group.
Finally, for comfort within the hall, air is circulated in the most “green” way possible. Beneath the seats are vents covering two chambers that perfectly mix both cool and warm air. Once blended at a precise temperature, heat seeps up from the floor rather than blowing audience members in the face. This technique not only ensures proper temperatures throughout, but reduces the electrical use that fan systems require.
Other impressive details show that every suggestion was heard and each thought considered in the planning of this facility:
- The make-up room stretches wide and has sinks in each corner for easy preparation and clean up.
- Costume rooms have sewing machines and a front-loading washer/dryer for a complete costume production experience.
- Sets are designed in-house in a specially-designed shop with saws, plenty of electrical outlets, and towering ceilings.
- Double doors protect each entrance to the hall, providing a sound-proof experience.
- Walls are designed for acoustics, maximizing sound travel.
This holiday season, visitors will also enjoy the painted instrument sale whose proceeds benefit the Jenison Public Schools Art Department. Please consider taking home a masterpiece this December! Until then, take a tour with us and leave a comment with your first impressions!
What most amazed you about our new Center for the Arts?
For 5th graders dreaming of playing the cello like Yo-Yo Ma or the violin like a Juilliard graduate, the annual fall orchestra sign-ups are the first step down a path that is limited only by their will to succeed.
While Jenison 6th graders are eligible for band and have their own fitting and instrument pairing evening, the opportunity to play in the Wildcat orchestra begins in 5th grade with an instrument rental and fitting in the junior high.
But orchestra teacher Carol Johnson explains that the journey to a music career actually begins at the end of 4th grade when she travels to each school with a selection of stringed instruments for the kids to hear and touch. Because this occurs right before summer vacation, students are given time to consider which instrument — if any — they’d like to play.
By the time September rolls around, those same students have begun 5th grade and have reached a decision with the help of their parents. They enter the cafeteria on a mission to find the best fit — and perhaps the best price — for their rental.
This year, three area rental companies were on-site for families to get acquainted with: Aaron’s Instruments, Baroque Violin Shop and Marshall Music Co. Having rental companies come to the school is just one way that the Jenison Music Program strives to support busy families and make it easier to consider trying something new.
Aaron Reiley, of Aaron’s Instruments, says that they started participating in this event five years ago.
“We originally came to JPS because they have a great orchestra program. I’ve known Dan (Scott) for a long time and it was a big factor in our decision to get on board. In fact, our family decided to move to Jenison for that reason! Once we saw the music program we wanted to work with JPS.”
Families and students present for the event were helped by volunteers directing traffic and answering questions. They were also excited for the chance to take home their very own instrument. Ella Uganski, a 5th grader picking up her own violin had this to say:
“I chose the violin because it sounds the best and it looks the most fun to do. I thought about the viola for a couple of minutes, but then I changed my mind. I’m really excited,” Ella said, beaming ear to ear.
Students like Ella will benefit from the early and consistent teaching that Jenison offers. She and her orchestra classmates will receive one afternoon of instruction in her own elementary building (45 minute class) and will also make a personal commitment to travel to the junior high two additional times per week before school. This kind of approach means that kids will play their first song on the first day of class — and be ready to perform a holiday concert by December!
Mrs. Johnson is looking forward to a new group of musicians, as well as the prospect of concerts in Jenison’s new Fine Arts Center.
How about you? Is your student in the orchestra? What do they love most about it? Leave a comment and tell us your story!
If you thought that brackets and championships were just for March Madness, you’d be wrong. Because while Mr. Zamborsky and Mr. Scott didn’t shoot hoops for these awards, the stakes and the honor that go along with them are just as high, and the applause from the crowd is just as loud.
We are thrilled to share that earlier this month, both Orchestra teacher Dan Scott and Band teacher Dave Zamborsky received word that they had been nominated by their peers and elected as District 10 Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) Teachers of the Year!
There are sixteen MSBOA districts in the State of Michigan, and Jenison lands in district 10 which is comprised of roughly 150-200 schools spanning from Northern Allegan to Lowell.
To draw a comparison between music education and athletics, these districts could be thought of as the OK Conferences for music. One distinguishing factor in this situation, however, is that our directors were identified as outstanding by their peers, and voted on to win Teachers of the Year.
“For me, that’s what means the most. I’m really flattered to have been chosen by my colleagues,” said Mr. Scott.
“Winning these accolades speaks volumes about the reputation of Jenison’s program,” added Mr. Zamborsky.
Pushing the significance of this honor to greater heights is the fact that no two teachers from the same school have ever won before! In fact, there are some districts in Michigan (typically the smaller ones) that vote only to honor either one band or one orchestra teacher, but not both.
This year changed everything when the MSBOA members voted to recognize the work of both a band and an orchestra instructor — and both from the same high school. This has never happened before!
“This award really highlights the well-roundedness of our entire program, both in band and in orchestra,” noted Mr. Zamborsky.
Moving forward, winners from all sixteen districts will go to the “state finals” on June 3, where three finalists from each category will be chosen to be presented to the MSBOA membership in the fall. Then, from December 2013 to January 2014, these same members will vote on one orchestra and one band teacher to be recognized –not just as superior in their district — but as exemplary in the state. Results of the final voting will be made public on January 14, 2014.
If Mr. Zamborsky and Mr. Scott earn this recognition from their peers, they will have the opportunity to conduct the All-State Honors Band and Orchestra at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival in May 2014.
Please join me in congratulating these men on this unprecedented achievement! We are so lucky to have them both leading Jenison’s music program!
Erasmus once said, “Concealed talent brings no reputation.”
If this is so, then the reverse must also be true. And next weekend, Mr. Steven Waters, Mr. Les Rowsey, and the Jenison Male Chorus will have the opportunity to prove it in front of hundreds of the brightest minds in music education.
Each January, music teachers from around the state converge on Grand Rapids to attend break-out sessions, learn together, and listen to selected school choral performances. Doing so as a group helps to set and maintain a standard for excellence in music education while reaffirming philosophical standpoints in their field.
Due to their history of exemplary performances and overall reputation for talent and skill, the Michigan Music Conference has foregone the typical application process for the Jenison group and has invited the group to perform at next week’s meeting in Grand Rapids. Under normal circumstances, groups desiring to perform are required to submit an application and audio recording in order to be considered, but in this case, the Chorus’ reputation has garnered acceptance on its own.
Jenison Choirs at all levels have applied, submitted recordings, and have been accepted several times over the past three decades, however the opportunity to perform without going through this process is extremely rare. The male chorus group will be collaborating next week Friday, January 18, with Mr. Lon Beery, a conference coordinator, composer, arranger, and educator who will also present around the topic of changing male voices. His session is entitled, “Working with Middle School Men,” and will take place in the International Ballroom at the J.W. Marriott Hotel at 9:30 a.m.
We send hearty congratulations to Mr. Waters, Mr. Rowsey, their accompanists, and the outstanding group of young men who will so proudly represent Jenison Junior High and High School at the Michigan Music Conference!
Best of luck!
Jenison Choirs are seeking to do more than send beautiful notes of Christmas joy into Fairhaven Church at this evening’s concert; they’re striving to gather coats, hats, and mittens for Grand Rapids’ Alpha Women’s Center.
The Alpha Women’s Center is a community outreach that assists young women in crisis pregnancy situations or those who find themselves as young single mothers unable to adequately provide for their children. The 4,200 clients they serve report that one of their largest needs in the winter is warm clothing and snow gear for their children, and Jenison is honored to help fill that need!
We’re proud to report that since our “Coats from Choirs” project began on November 13, it has already taken in some 410 coats! The November 29 Culver’s benefit night was a tremendous support to our efforts and also brought in countless hats and mittens.
Tonight’s concert marks our final collection night and our goal is to far surpass 500 coats donated! We feel privileged to live in a generous community who considers the needs of others, and know that this year’s giving will be another indication of our compassion.
To all who have already given and to those who are planning to join us yet tonight, we thank you!
Jenison Junior High Christmas Choir Concert
This past weekend the Jenison High Marching Band marched into history when they seized the State Championship Title for the second time in as many years.
Performing the acclaimed, “Joan: Visionary, Warrior, Martyr, Saint,” based on the life of Joan of Arc, Jenison Band members out-scored the competition in all four areas of adjudication: Best Music, Best Visual Performance, and Best General Effect.
The show includes music from “King Arthur” and “The Prince of Egypt” by Hans Zimmer, “The Messenger” by Eric Serra, “The Kings Go Forth” by Edward Gregson, “March to the Scaffold” from Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique,” and Ravel’s “Pavane for a Dead Princess,” explained JHS Band teacher Dave Zamborsky.
Mr. Zamborsky and Mr. York will take their band to the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis, IN today, where they will prepare to perform in the preliminary competition on Friday afternoon. If their performance qualifies them to move on to the Semifinals, they will play again on Saturday. The Semifinals pits the top 30 bands in the nation against each other for the coveted National Title.
Mr. Mike York shared his thoughts about some of his favorite memories from this fall.
“There are so many highlights throughout the season that it’s hard to pick just one, but I think that when I look back on this show, the first thing that will pop in to my mind is the dramatic performance by Sara Gehan as “Joan” during the burning at the stake scene. If there were Oscar Awards to hand out at marching band competitions, she would, hands down, be taking ALL of those home. This moment in the show has really become “the talk of the town” in the Michigan marching band world!”
Mr. Zamborsky explained why this year’s production is different:
“I think the show this year is very unique and special. It’s definitely the most emotionally appealing show we’ve done here at Jenison, and the response has been very positive. That emotional component has given us the opportunity to really emphasize to the students that a significant part of their role as great performers is creating a connection with their audience – making the audience feel completely engaged in their performance.
… Our students have a lot to be proud of – and we hope that the marching band program is a consistent source of pride for our school district and community members. But each season, we strive to raise our standards little by little, and it’s really great to see the kids work so hard to meet and even exceed those standards – and to set new standards for themselves personally and as a band.”
“One of the things that we emphasize with the band throughout the season is to be positive and healthy competitors. Our goal, first and foremost, is to push our practice and performance intensity to the threshold of our abilities – that’s how we judge our success. The awards and recognition are certainly nice, but reaching our full potential as performers is the only thing that we have total control over. When we walk away from a performance saying that we gave absolutely everything we could, then and only then can we say we’ve been successful,” said Mr. York.
Congratulations to Mr. York, Mr. Zamborsky, and all the students and parents who give so much to make the Jenison Band program successful! We wish them the best of luck at Nationals and assure them that in our hearts, they’re already winners!
For a complete list of Flight II scores, click HERE.