Sing it out

Choir embraces their new teacher and grows through it

Stephanie Ohde, freshman, asks a question about her voice part in a song.

Greer Patten

Stephanie Ohde, freshman, asks a question about her voice part in a song.

First day of school.

New classes.

New people.

New teacher: Paul Oestreich.

“It was a learning experience for everybody to get to know each other,” Oestreich said. “I came from a little school, it only had like 400-some kids in it, and Homestead is like three times that size.”

This wasn’t only a change for Oestreich, but for his new students as well.

“I was so nervous, we were all so quiet on the first day,” Alexandra Berryman, junior soprano, said.

However, this shyness didn’t last. “You kind of like by default get to bond with each other just because of the activity that you’re doing. It just kind of promotes getting to know people and bonding with them, so it kind of happened naturally, pretty quickly that first week of school,” Oestreich said.

Not only did Oestrich need to learn about and bond with his students, but the students learned to bond with each other and their new teacher.

“We are all really close in choir,” Vivian Reiland, sophomore alto said. This year was Reiland’s first year in high school choir. “We have many fun times in choir but my favorite is when we listened to country music, and everybody died,” Reiland said.

Berryman is part of the Treble Choir, an audition-only treble voices choir. There are 11 people in Treble Choir, so they have all been able to get to know each other this year.

“Getting to know everybody and being a part of such a close-knit group of students has been really fun,” Berryman said.

Choir may look like a class where singers just rehearse and perform in concerts, but that is not all that choir does. There are three choirs: Highlander, Tartan and Treble. Once a trimester the three choirs all perform together in their concert. However, there are also other things the choir does such as small group and volunteer performances, vocal technique and singing in harmony.

“We had some singers come and sing the national anthem for the color run at the beginning of the year, we had again national anthem for the turkey trot, we had a group of about 20, 25 singers participate in what we call the holiday ensemble, which is like a mini choir that meets after school to learn, holiday music,” Oestrich said.

Because of last year’s safety precautions, the choir looked different. Chairs spaced out, distance learners and virtual performances were all the students knew, but this year was a new year.

“I don’t think we did an in person concert (last year), and this year we’ve been able to do not only an in person concert, but also the holiday ensemble, which was like a series of performances over the holidays, with holiday themed music. But it has just been a lot more fun to do more stuff,” Berryman said.

“Choir is really fun with Mr. O, and he’s got a different teaching style,” Reiland said.

With a new teacher comes new teaching techniques and ways to improve the students’ voices.

Oestreich uses “Estill training, which is a specialized type of singing education and it’s been really helpful when you’re trying to learn how to sing something, you can actually know physically what’s going on with your voice.” Berryman said.

Choir is not only a performing art, but also is educational.

“Mostly, at its core, I pick songs that I believe have some kind of educational purpose to them, so they are great at students experiencing some particular element of music,” Oestrich said.

“So we do classical songs that have been written recently and we do classical music that was written in like 1427. It’s huge, hundreds of years worth of music, but the goal of all of it is that it’s good for teaching, and good for a group of people,” Oestrich said.