Kent Chorus benefits all majors

Jenna Gerling

Group encourages those interested to join

A dusty green chalkboard had the words “Rules – NO CELL PHONES” written on it.

The room, E-112 of the Music and Speech building, was filled with maroon chairs in the shape of a half-moon facing a piano. A variety of people filled the classroom: old, young, male, female.

C.W. Shearer, director of choral activities, stopped one woman and asked how her children were.

Several people filed outside the door, signing up for the chorus.

The last day to sign up for the Kent Chorus is Tuesday, Sept. 12 in the Music and Speech Building. For non-music majors, the fee is $15, which covers music and orchestra costs, Shearer said.

“For the non-students, I only accept (members) up through the first three rehearsals,” Shearer said. “We’ll accept new members up until next Tuesday and then it closes.”

Shearer said the spots available for the chorus are dwindling, but he hopes students will continue to sign up in order to benefit from the many advantages the chorus provides.

Shearer said one benefit for students who have music as a major is that they will get one credit hour for singing on the Kent Chorus.

But Shearer said that school credit is not the only reason for joining.

“Every student is going to do something for entertainment – something that’s fun,” Shearer said. “I can’t think of a healthier way of relaxing and enjoying themselves than singing in a choir, especially if they enjoy singing.”

Shearer said that in addition to a break from studies, being a part of the chorus will help students develop assets that will help them with their careers, even if music is not their major.

“These are things that almost any employee will be looking for: personal discipline … someone who’s dedicated,” Shearer said. “If you’re taking an academic class and you miss the class, it doesn’t hurt anybody but you; if you miss a choir or ensemble performance, it hurts everyone.”

Julie Strebler, who is working on a master’s degree in music education, said being in the chorus has helped her with her career. This will be Strebler’s second year in the chorus.

“It helps in my teaching by watching Dr. Shearer conduct,” said Strebler, who is also a choir teacher at Coventry High School in Akron.

Strebler said the Kent Chorus is also helpful for new sight readers and music readers.

“(Shearer) is really good with trying to get you to understand something about music, even if you came in not knowing much. The fact that you love to sing is enough,” she said.

Shearer said students who are not music majors should have at least some previous choral singing experience.

“The main thing is that if they’ve never sung in a choir before, they could be overwhelmed by what we do in there because we move pretty fast,” he said.

Freshman nursing major Rachel Seafler, who joined Kent Chorus only two weeks earlier, had experience singing before college. She said Shearer moved faster than what she was used to, but she was still able to keep up.

“I think that someone with only minor experience would be fine in the chorus,” Seafler said.

Seafler said she was hesitant to join the choir in the beginning because of the time commitment and patience the chorus required, but admitted she was glad she did because of the things she’s learned from the chorus and Shearer.

“Dr. Shearer said once, ‘Patience is very short nowadays. I think people forget to just sit and look at something, examine it, enjoy it,'” Seafler said. “I think choir allows you to be patient – to be able to see something for how good it is.”

Cortnee Gaj, sophomore secondary English education major and second year member of the Kent Chorus, said the chorus helped with her social interaction.

“It’s great to meet new people, young and old,” Gaj said.

Gaj said even though she doesn’t plan to sing as a profession, she would join a chorus wherever she moved.

“I love to sing, but just for me to take the time out of everything else and just do something completely different is really beneficial,” Gaj said.

Contact performing arts reporter Jenna Gerling at [email protected].

The Kent Chorus meets every Tuesday in room E-112 in the Music and Speech Building from 7:30-10 p.m.

For more information about the Kent Chorus, rehearsals, or performances, visit the Kent State University Choral Music Program Web site:

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