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Judges choose local elementary students for state honor choir

Posted Date: 12/21/2018

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A Chanute Elementary third grader is among four students from Neosho County who’ve been chosen to sing with the All-State Elementary Honor Choir at Wichita.

Selected to perform with the 160-voice choir is Nathan Guernsey from CES, Leah Burnett from Chanute Christian Academy, and Teresa Dominguez and Addicyn Martin from Erie Elementary School.

“I was like so excited when Mrs. Burnett told us about (being able to audition) ‘cause they didn’t have third graders audition last year,” the nine-year-old Guernsey said. “My sister did it and it looked fun. I thought it’d be cool if I could do it too.”

The Kansas Music Educators Association-sponsored choir is for third through fifth graders. Last year, judges reviewed more than 800 audition tapes, CES music teacher Mendy Burnett said.  For the audition, the students are given a single pitch, before singing America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee) without any accompaniment. Judges then rate the tapes on a student’s pitch, tone, rhythm and expression.

The students worked with their school music teachers to prepare for their taped audition.

Erie girls chosen for state honor choirErie music teacher Dirk Myers said that after hearing their tryouts he knew that fifth graders Dominguez and Martin had a cca girl chosen for all-state choirgreat shot at making the choir.

“Both of them worked very hard and are very musically talented,” he said.

Martin auditioned as a fourth grader but this was Dominguez’s first time.

“I remember thinking that if I could just tweak Addi's vowels a little bit more on her fourth grade tryout she would have been chosen. I knew she would make it if she kept trying,” Myers said.

Burnett, who is “blessed to have both parents as music teachers” in Chanute will return to sing with the state choir again this year as a fourth grader, said father Lance Burnett.

“She’s very musical, she loves to sing,” Lance said. Leah also plays the piano and has been composing songs for her ukulele in her free time.

Music teacher Mendy Burnett said that Guernsey “exploded” when she told him that he’d been accepted into the all-state honor choir.

“I went YES!” he said. “I was excited, so excited. My family likes to sing and I do too.”

Guernsey said he’s taken piano lessons, but stopped this year when he was learning to play the guitar.

“After winter break I’ll start playing the piano again,” he said.

Myers said he hopes this experience will inspire his students like it did him.

“When people ask me why I teach music, it is because of opportunities like this that tune the ear in only the way that the special choirs can,” he said. “I hope it gives them a hunger for being their best and pushing their future groups to greatness musically.”

The KMEA Elementary Honor Choir will rehearse and perform at 5:45 p.m. Feb. 21, in the concert hall at the Century II Convention Center.