WHS Directors Of Band And Chorus Guide Students To Discover Their Full Potential

COURTESY PHOTO

Matt Musty, a member of the Class of 2006 at Woodsville High School, makes an appearance of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno recently.

Music is alive and blossoming at Woodsville High School, thanks to David Heintz and Christina Flateau, directors of band and chorus. Both are devoted to helping students achieve success and develop their skills. They get their students involved in the community and guide them to discover their true potential.

The choirs and bands put on two concerts together each year -- a holiday concert and a Spring Arts Festival. The performing groups are concert choir, select vocal ensemble, band and honors ensemble. The band also combines with the middle school for a fall concert, and recitals at Alumni Hall in January, where students put on solo performances or work with other students in small groups.

Heintz and Flateau take their performances on the road twice each year, visiting Grafton County nursing home, Horsemeadow Senior Center, and Glencliff Home for the Elderly. They play their concert pieces, as well as some holiday tunes for the elderly. It allows students to spread some joy and get involved in their community.

David Heintz has been teaching at WHS for over 25 years. He directs the band, honors ensemble, and teaches a garage band class that allows students to work independently with piano, string instruments, drums, or any other instrument they desire. He will also teach theory classes for any student that wishes to further their knowledge.

The honors ensemble rehearses mornings before school, on their own time. Each year, they prepare three or four pieces to perform at an international competition in Canada. For years, they have brought home the highest rating, "superior," ranking them among the top 10 percent of ensembles across the world. Katherine Emley, senior band and honors ensemble member says, "He cares so much about us. He'll put in hours over the summer of re-writing music to fit our small band." Because the WHS band is small, Heintz rewrites parts to make the overall sound fuller. From the final product, it is difficult to tell just how many instruments are missing.

A former student of Heintz, Matt Musty, Class of 2006, has earned a degree from the Berklee School of Music in Boston and has become a successful drummer. Musty's success took him to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in early January. He plays drums for popular singer Jake Clemons.

"It was such an honor to be one of the musicians to play on his show. Leno is a legend," said Musty. He recently came back to WHS to talk to students about his experiences as a musician. He emphasized that WHS has endless opportunities, stating, "Coming from a small school doesn't limit your possibilities."

Christina Flateau is teaching her sixth year at Woodsville. She has directed concert choir, select vocal ensemble, a phoenix choir, in addition to teaching Modern Mozart, Almost Amadeus, and Lead Singer classes. These classes focus on aspects of music, such as theory, solo performance, and instruments such as piano, ukulele and guitar. "If I can't reach kids through chorus, then I encourage them to try Modern Mozart."

Flateau always encourages students to join chorus. "My biggest goal at the high school level is for chorus to include 50 percent of the school population. I've come to about 30 percent in recent years, but with scheduling conflicts, it's not an easy task. I want everyone to be able to sing with us if they have a desire to."

Senior Louisa Noble joined chorus her sophomore year, after encouragement from Flateau. Louisa now says, "I never knew I could really sing, but she believed in me and was so supportive."

In addition to teaching at the high school, Heintz and Flateau also teach band, chorus and general music at Haverhill Cooperative Middle School.

Flateau says, "At the middle school my goal is for each and every child to get 'infected' with the love of music through playing the ukulele. Each student learns how to play by the time they are at the end of 7th grade and 8th grade is where they get to hone their skills and really showcase their interests and talents."

In the past four years, Flateau has prepared four students that who were accepted into the New Hampshire All-State choir. It is an extensive audition process, including the performance of a memorized Italian aria, rhythmic and melodic sight reading, and a chorale. In 2011, Catherine Quigley and Helen Wilkin made the Women's Choir. In 2013, Ben Cope and Julia Bowman were accepted into the Mixed Choir. The performances are held at Concord's Capitol Center for the Arts. Julia Bowman has been accepted this year, and will sing in the Mixed Choir once again in mid-April.

Each year in the spring, Heintz and Flateau nominate students to participate in North Country. Those selected are sent music to prepare for March, when they will travel to a high school in northern New Hampshire to rehearse with other students. After a day of practicing the music together, they put on a performance. North Country serves as a way for students to meet people who share the same hobbies and to share their skills with the public. This year, North Country will be hosted at Lisbon Regional School on March 13.

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