Dr. Thomas had such demand of the choir during this rehearsal; the students were attentive and respectful at all times. Which is not to say that they weren't having fun! Quite the contrary: they were having a blast, laughing and singing and dancing and communicating with each other. I found myself thinking back fondly to my high school festival experiences, and I was happy to see these students having a rewarding experience as well. There was a strong sense of community in the room, and it was beautiful.
I observed that Dr. Thomas used a lot of hand motions and other movements to help the singers to keep a steady pulse, and I noticed that feeling that sense of motion from one beat to the next seemed to be really helpful for the high schoolers. Dr. Thomas also incorporated lots of repetition of individual sections into the rehearsal, which allowed the students to memorize the music naturally and gradually. After a certain number of repetitions of a passage, he would ask the choir to sing it from memory, and by that point, without fail, the notes would have been engraved in the students' brains without them even realizing it. Dr. Thomas created a rehearsal environment that was both productive and relaxed; the students were clearly learning a lot and enjoying themselves immensely. I am so glad that I was able to see such a prominent leader of the choral world up close and in person!
-Juliana Child, Ithaca College '18