Choir Spreads Its Harmony Throughout The School

Juliette Uncovsky, Associate Editor

Voices are heard, melodies are played and the choir sings all throughout the day in C building. The school choir, which consists of 150 people, attend their designated classes each day, making music and performing for events and competitions throughout the year.

“I have always had a passion for singing and joining choir was kind of one of those gut feelings where I knew I was in the right place,” Acapella Mixed Group student director Chetan Moghe said.“ I am basically in charge of being responsible for my group, for example the music they learn and also helping to coordinate events. I am the person they go to if they need help with anything.”

The choir is divided into several different sections, each with their own specific types of singing and events.

“There are four Plano West Choirs, our third period Mixed Chorale, fourth period Women’s Choir, and our specialty auditioned groups, Rhapsody, which is the women’s ensemble, and Syncopation, the mixed group,”  Plano West Choir’s Social Media Chair Grace Yu said. “All of our choirs compete at the varsity level and perform advanced collegiate pieces.”

The choir has many leaders, some being students and others of course are the teachers.

“I really love high school students and I think senior high is such a pivotal time of life,” Choir Teacher Sarah Council said. “I have always had a deep connection with choral music study, so teaching high school choir was a really natural choice for me. I was a student in Plano, and I had incredible teachers who really inspired me down this path; one being the other choir teacher, Ms. Hackett.”

The choir has had several events and competitions throughout the year especially with the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA). Through four competitive auditions first semester, 45 choir students were selected for Region Choir, which is more than any other school in the Region. 30 advance to the next round, Pre-Area. 15 advanced to Area, and 9 were selected for the All-State Choir. Additionally, the  85-member Plano West Chorale has been selected by the Texas Music Educators Association to perform at the convention in San Antonio on Feb. 14.

“We have had a tremendously successful year,” Council said. “This prestigious honor is one of the highest recognitions a choir can receive in the State of Texas.”

Choir students will also have the chance to compete in the University Interscholastic League (UIL) competition and solo UIL contest in April. All choirs compete against other choirs and solo UIL contest is how good a singer can rank by themselves.

“Every Spring we go to UIL and hope to get Sweepstakes,” Yu said. “Sweepstakes means receiving a one, the best score, in every category.”

Besides local events held here in Texas, the choir has a major event planned for them later on this year.

“The Plano West choirs have been selected to perform at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City in March,” Council said. “This invitation is saved for the best of the best in choirs in the country. Also on this trip, we will be able to see two Broadway shows and do several tours in New York City.”

The choir also plans several social events throughout the year.

“The Choir Council planned and executed an awesome Winter Social this past year,” Yu said. “The social had the biggest turnout of Plano West Choir history. There was lots of food and we set up a really cute photobooth and had some awesome games and competitions like a holiday outfit runway and a lip sync competition.”

Choir is one of the many extracurricular classes available at Plano West, and it is also one of the most highly regarded.

“Plano West has, without question, the best fine arts department in the state of Texas,” Council said. “All of our teachers are at the top of their individual discipline, and together we are able to offer tremendous opportunities to students in every area: Choir, Band, Jazz Band, Percussion, Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Visual Arts, Theatre and Music Theory.  No other school has this many departments of such prestige and quality, and though I recognize I am really biased, I love being a West Wolf and working alongside so many master teachers.”

A typical day in choir consists of two major ensembles that meet each day, two vocal jazz ensembles, and many days we have combined rehearsals after school.  They spend time working with students to prepare for auditions and solo performances.

“Our performances may seem so effortless and it is easy to think that singing is a piece of cake, but the Plano West Choir is not as successful as it is by doing nothing,” Yu said. “ We practice hard in and outside of school and are constantly pushing limits to be the best we can be. I also wish that people could get to know our awesome directors, Mrs. Hackett and Mrs. Council. They are some of the kindest, most patient educators I have ever had the pleasure of being taught by and I wish everyone had the chance to get to know them. They work so hard everyday to make sure we are at the top of our game and deserve all the recognition in the world.”

Throughout the students’ many years in choir, they have made some memorable memories alongside their friends.

“My most memorable memory was at the final round of All State last year when they were calling names,” Moghe said. “So much work went into that and when I heard my name I felt so confident of the work I put through. You could say it was blood sweat and tears.

A lot of effort is put into choir to make sure it is successful and that everyone has a good time, and the students do not fail to recognize that.

“My favorite part of choir is definitely how, through music, we are able to express ourselves and be vulnerable,” Yu said.  “Every piece we sing has a different style, or different lyrics but the music always brings us together. I wish people outside of choir could see how hard we worked.

Not only do the students learn and have experiences, but the teachers do to.

“I love watching students achieve their goals whether they are individual music goals, ensemble goals, or getting into their dream school,” Council said. “ Several of our students are involved in multiple ensembles, and I love being part of and cheering on their last high school experiences. I cannot overstate how much I learn from students. Plano West is such a diverse campus and our students come from so many different backgrounds. Working with students from all different backgrounds continues to evolve my world view, teaching style, and even parenting my own son. As a former Plano West student, seeing how the choral program has grown and succeeded since the school opening brings me tremendous joy.”

As a senior, Grace Yu looks back on the impact choir has left her, and the legacy it will have on the rest of her life.

“I have always loved to sing since I was a little girl and I am glad that I chose choir because now I do it everyday,” Yu said. “ Joining choir is one of the best decisions I have ever made and I hope that other people choose it too and have the same love for it as I do.”

Choir not only has helped the students to be better at singing, it has given them skills that will help them throughout their lives, and leave a lasting impact on themselves and others.

“Everyone should do something they love and choir is what I love,” Moghe said. “I have learned discipline and respect because you have to listen to your peers not just directors. So when you open your mind to that you just become so much more mature and that really helped me so that I could be successful in coir. But overall it is a fun and loving environment and I am very grateful for that. It taught me to be a better musician not just as a singer, and I will definitely use what I learned for the rest of my life.”