Vocal excellence

OPPORTUNITIES: MSVMA is nonprofit, professional organization made up of vocal music educators who work to improve, promote and assist vocal music education for kindergarten through high school students. Pictured is Virginia Kerwin, MSVMA executive director. (Pioneer photo/Katlyn Vuillemot)

OPPORTUNITIES: MSVMA is nonprofit, professional organization made up of vocal music educators who work to improve, promote and assist vocal music education for kindergarten through high school students. Pictured is Virginia Kerwin, MSVMA executive director. (Pioneer photo/Katlyn Vuillemot)

BRHS and CCA students participate in MSVMA

BIG RAPIDS — Although not every student will become a professional singer, they can get the next best thing, professional training with the Michigan School Vocal Music Association.

MSVMA is a nonprofit, professional organization made up of vocal music educators who work to improve, promote and assist vocal music education for kindergarten through high school students.

Within the Mecosta Osceola Intermediate School District, Big Rapids Public Schools and Crossroads Charter Academy are involved in MSVMA.

BRPS has been involved with the association for more than 30 years and currently have 80 students in the choir. 

“MSVMA offers a wide-range of opportunities for students to see what is going on around the state,” said Katie McInnis, Big Rapids High School choir director and MSVMA district manager. “It opens up a world of music to students.”

The association began in 1937 after a group of choral directors wanted to provide vocal opportunities for students.

“They wanted to promote a standard of excellence in Michigan of good choral singers,” said Virginia Kerwin, MSVMA executive director.

School districts around Michigan choose to become a member of MSVMA. Once they are members, students can begin to get involved with the program. Michigan has 16 districts around the state, close to 800 memberships and thousands of students involved.

“We are about healthy singing,” Kerwin said. “We wish every kid in Michigan were part of our association.”

Students who are involved with MSVMA have opportunities to get involved with festivals and honors choir. Festivals are performances for students to sing in front of a judge and receive feedback on their abilities.

During festivals, students can participate in large group performances and in solos.

For group festivals, students perform two songs and then spend time with a judge who walks them through their performance. During the group performance, students also will participate in sight reading, which means they are asked to sing a piece they have never seen before.

Solo performances give students the chance to learn about their strengths and weaknesses individually.

“An important part of our festivals is that they are not competitive,” Kerwin said. “Students will receive scores compared to vocal standards, but our festivals are completely educational.”

FESTIVALS: Big Rapids High School has been a member of Michigan School Vocal Music Association for more than 30 years. Pictured are BRHS students at MSVMA 2015 District One Festival. (Courtesy photo)

FESTIVALS: Big Rapids High School has been a member of Michigan School Vocal Music Association for more than 30 years. Pictured are BRHS students at MSVMA 2015 District One Festival. (Courtesy photo)

Justin Gray, a junior at Big Rapids High School, has been involved in MSVMA for three years. During freshman year, he helped work the festivals and after getting a feel for the program, began singing solos.

“It’s a really a fun experience and everybody who gets involved becomes well integrated with the arts,” Gray said. “If you work hard, you will go far.”

Out of all the festivals Gray has been involved in the past three years, his favorite part is the solos. 

“I have absolutely improved and learned so much, especially when the judges spend time with you,” Gray said. “Kids should get involved because its a great way to learn new people, grow as a vocalist and have fun.”

Crossroads Charter Academy became members of MSVMA for the 2014-15 school year and are learning the ropes of the association.

“For a few years I have been trying to build up the choir program,” said Debe Mitchell, middle and high school choir director. “This year we have 34 students with good vocal skills and I knew it was time to get involved with the program to advance the students.”

Mitchell has not taken her entire choir to an event yet, but many of her high school students have participated in solos, ensembles and regional choir events.

“It’s been a really enjoyable experience and we are continuing to learn as we go,” Mitchell said. “This is a passion and tool students can use as they move forward.”

For more information about MSVMA, call (231) 592-9344.

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Posted by Katlyn Vuillemot

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