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Students learn from professionals



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Clarkston High School's Madrigrals performs. (click for larger version)
November 17, 2010 - Clarkston High School's Acappella and Ann Arbor's Skyline High School singing groups enjoyed a day of workshops with professional A cappella singing group "Firedrill" on Nov. 12.

"I thought the students really got a lot out of workshopping with Firedrill throughout the day," said Brian Haverkate, Clarkston High School choral director. "They got a lot of expertise from guys that have been doing this professionally for a number of years that they might not have gotten otherwise."

Student and Madrigals singer Tabitha Mullen agreed.

"There is only so much your teacher can show you after hearing the same thing and hearing you sing the same thing over and over again. It's nice to hear a fresh perspective and have them show you the things you can do," she said. "They've been doing this for so long it's really great they could give us some guidance of what we could do better."

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Mullen also sang a solo with Firedrill. They sang "If I Ain't Got You" written by Alicia Keys. It was a solo she said she had to "fight for."

"It was a little nerve racking to say the least," she said. "They are a very experienced group and they are very, very talented, far beyond what I have."

Firedrill helped the students with music arrangement, vocal percussion, and stage presence.

"The workshop was really fun and it was great to hear their (Firedrill's) input on our songs and everything," said Olivia Lohmeier, choralaires member. "All the groups were really nice. It was nice to get to know people from all over Michigan."

Firedrill also listened to each of the singing group's songs they were performing in Friday nights show and critiqued them.

"The program here is fantastic. Brian Havercate does an amazing job, the kids were really quick to learn, but they were really solid to begin with," said Nate Altimari of Firedrill. "We tweaked the little things we thought they could work on, but their existing product was really solid."

Fellow group member Mike Barnicle agreed.

"It was nice to work with groups that have the basic knowledge already and to just knit pick the little things," he said.

Madrigals singer Ivan Blade also enjoyed meeting the professional group, which does what he called a "very obscure type of art form."

"It was cool to see how good you could be at something so obscure," Blade said.

Haverkate called Friday night's show a "huge success."

"I thought everybody did a fantastic job, we had a great crowd, (and) they really enjoyed Firedrill when they came on in the second half of the show," he said. "Overall, I think it's something we can definitely build upon for future years, since we're looking to make this an annual event."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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