The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
By Elissa Weller, VocalEssence
For South High School 9th Grader Shameelah Abdullah, apprenticing with the VocalEssence Chorus on the WITNESS Concert is just the challenge she was looking for. 1 of 8 students in the Talented Tenth Apprentice Program (TTAP), a program for urban high school students who may not otherwise have such opportunities to receive professional music and vocal training, Shameelah was interviewed before the concert about her experience:
ST: How did you get involved in the TTAP Program? SA: I was asked by my choir teacher to think about joining and, after talking to my mom, I did! We practice on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at South High School with Ms. Ginger (Commodore), and then perform at the WITNESS concert with the VocalEssence Chorus in February.
ST: A few weeks ago, the TTAP students attended a VocalEssence rehearsal. What was it like? SA: It was nerve-wracking! I was constantly feeling out the situation, listening to others, and trying to follow what they were doing. I kept thinking, “Don’t sing loud because you don’t know the music, and you don’t want to throw everyone else off.” That said, it was really cool to listen to all of the different voices ’cause in our choir we just have sopranos, altos and there are a couple of baritones. It was really amazing.
ST: Is there anything that surprised you about the VocalEssence rehearsal? SA: I was surprised at how fast they go. The choir I’m in is a beginning choir, so we go step by step learning each part. But with them it was fast-paced. I liked it because I like the challenge!
ST: What would you like to share with us about your experience with TTAP so far? SA: I think it’s a really, really, really great opportunity because it’s big. My mom keeps saying, “Do you realize how big this is?” It’s a great opportunity for teenagers to get involved in singing outside of their school, to have time to sing, to be exposed to different musical environments, and to be challenged. And that’s an amazing part of it – everybody needs a challenge.
Congratulations to Shameelah and 7 other students from South High School (pictured), who performed as part of the WITNESS Concert at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts on February 17!