Monthly Archives: September 2015

Off to a Great Start!

WOW! Today was our first rehearsal. Like all first rehearsals, it was a little chaotic to start, but everyone was very cooperative and that helped a lot! Many of the students were excited to be there (and we really hope they are just as excited to come back again on Friday, maybe with a friend in tow…) and that was great to see. A few parents stopped in to meet us – thank you for doing that, and sorry we could not chat with you more then, but we hope we will be seeing more of you! It was nice seeing some returning faces, and we welcome all the new voices – we are happy to have all of you here!

During today’s rehearsal, we collected forms and introduced ourselves, and Mr. Whitson brought out the warm-up exercises we will be using. There was a quick review of posture and breathing, and then we did an initial rough sort of voices based on which key of “The Star Spangled Banner” was easiest to sing. We will be tweaking that sort as the rehearsals continue, and the students should let us know if they are finding it difficult to reach the notes in the parts they are currently assigned so we can make adjustments. Then we started learning an arrangement of “Grim Grinning Ghosts.” This piece won’t be performed in concert, but it’s a fun song for the season and it has a lot of key lessons in it. Finally, we had a formal dismissal from the risers, which is something that we will do every rehearsal so that it is second nature to us by performance time. For a first day, it went smoothly and we can already see that this is a talented group!

Typical first day reminders: if you have not turned in all your forms, please do so on Friday. That includes the Choir Student Info Sheet, the ASES Application, and the Choir Contract that was handed out today. Please note that all students need to complete the ASES Before-School Program Application, as the Choir is considered a part of the ASES program.

Next rehearsal is on Friday, October 2, at 7:20 a.m.  We do start singing promptly at 7:20, so do please try to arrive a few minutes before that. There is still room for more members, so spread the word!

At the next rehearsal we will be starting the music that may be performed at the December concert. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email us at

See you on Friday!

A New Year Begins…


If you’re here, you’re probably looking for more information about the Twin Peaks Choir. Especially since for a while there it looked like there wouldn’t be a Twin Peaks Choir.

So, I’m guessing the number one question is, “Is there really going to be a Choir program in 2015-2016?”

The answer? A resounding “YES!!”

Now I’m guessing the next question is, “Who the heck did they find to pull that off?” or some variation of that.

The answer? That would be us. A couple of parents who volunteered to keep the program running. <Waves hands>

Last year, we were the “TPMS Choir Parent Reps,” which is a fancy way of saying we nagged you for donations to the fundraiser auctions and stayed with the kids backstage when they weren’t performing at the concerts. A.K.A. the “bow-tie people” and the ones who said “SHHHHHH!” a lot. But besides making sure everyone was on stage at the right time and without pizza sauce on their shirt, we got to talk to the kids. We got to see how much they truly enjoyed singing with the Choir. We got to hear how talented they are. We got to know how disappointed they were when Mrs. Gray announced her retirement at the end of last year.

Poway High School has hired a wonderful new director, Ms. Jessica Schemmel, who has graciously agreed to help us out, but is full-time committed at PHS and unable to run rehearsals here at TPMS. To keep a choir program operating at Twin Peaks, some qualified volunteers would have to be found.

Which begs the question about us, “Who do you think you are to fill those shoes?”

John is the former Director of Music for Westminster Presbyterian Church in West Islip, NY. He also directed the choir at Holy Name of Jesus R.C. Church in Woodbury, NY, for several years. For over 30 years he was in demand as a substitute organist and director at churches across Long Island. John started singing back in elementary school and was a member of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Men’s Chorus and Glee Club, traveling around England and Canada to perform with them. He received his voice instruction from Louis Jerome Curran, Jr. and choral conducting training from Dr. David P. McKay. He’s the one that will do his best to make the choir sound its very best.

I, Pat, will be the first to admit I can carry a tune (sort of). I was in elementary school chorus – and absolutely loved it and then hated it, but that will be a tale for another post. I played the flute and the piccolo for nearly 20 years, and played and sang with contemporary church music groups in both high school and college. While I never really advanced beyond a “pretty good” level of musicianship, the time I spent rehearsing and performing remain some of the best times of my life. My job with the TPMS choir will be to make us look good – both on stage and off. I’ll handle choreography, posture, general appearance, etc. as well as the behind-the-scenes stuff like photocopies, music folders, and communications like this website and email.

When we moved here from New York two years ago, it was very important to us that the school district had a strong music program. Both our children were fortunate enough to have come from public schools that had music education starting in kindergarten, instrumental instruction beginning in third grade, and the ability to belong to both band/orchestra AND chorus without having to chose one or the other due to scheduling. Music is so important in our family that this past May our daughter graduated St. Michael’s College in Colchester, VT, with a degree in Music. We could not stand to see the Choir program end at TPMS.

We are not going to promise you that this year will be like the previous years. Even John’s dainty size 13’s can’t come close to filling the shoes that came before. But, we will promise that there will be singing, and performances, and lessons that will help prepare them for PHS choirs. And we will have fun, too! We’ll still say “SHHHHHH!” but hopefully only occasionally. We have lots of ideas and we will try them all. We have received a lot of promises of support, and we plan to cash in every one of them. We’re open to suggestions and more than willing to accept additional help if you wish to volunteer your services.

We look forward to working with you this year!


Pat & John Whitson

Pat and John Whitson, and Captain Jack Sparrow. Because, who doesn't love Captain Jack Sparrow?
Pat & John Whitson, and Captain Jack Sparrow. Because, really, who doesn’t love Captain Jack Sparrow?