Choir Inspires Courage, Confidence, Connection

DHS Choir Inspires Students with Courage, Confidence, and Connection
Posted on 11/10/2022
DHS Senior Rebecca Chessor and Choir Director Jacob Abbott

DHS Choir Inspires Students with Courage, Confidence, and Connection

Hold me, rock me, calm and easy. Hold me, rock me, deep and wide. Hold me, rock me, in your arms. Oh, I got a home on the other side.

Every year, Dresden High School [DHS] students sing these lyrics from composer Brian Tate’s choral composition ‘Hold Me, Rock Me’ as a tribute song at the end of every spring and winter concert. The lyrics serve as a special homecoming for DHS Choir students. Many choir alum make the trek back to their alma mater and join the current class on stage to sing the heartfelt tune. The song pulls together a growing reunion of voices who have been singing together under the instruction of Jacob Abbott, DHS Music Teacher and Choir Director, since 2016.

Class of 2023 DHS Senior Rebecca Chessor knows every note of ‘Hold Me, Rock Me’ by heart.

“It’s by far my most favorite song to sing with the choir. It was the first song I learned in the class and I’ve been singing it for 4 years. I can’t believe that I won’t be singing it as a DHS student next year,” Chessor explained. “It’s hard to describe how that makes me feel. I’m definitely going to cry when we sing it in concert.”

Chessor began singing with the DHS Choir her freshman year. She said she was worried when she discovered on the first day of class that the group would be required to perform live.

“I was thinking about joining and my mother signed me up before I could talk myself out of it. The first day of class, Mr. Abbott told us that the choir performs live at a winter concert, spring concert, graduation, and more. He gave us sheets of music and sight singing work. There were ear training tests. I didn’t even know how to read music when I joined. I was terrified,” said Chessor.

It wasn’t long before Chessor discovered that she sings at alto range, reading music is easy for her, and sight singing is actually sort of fun.

Mr. Abbott said that he’s seen a lot of changes since he began leading the choir.

“Students often think that choir is an easy-credit class, but they find out quickly that it’s not the case. The class involves utilizing a variety of hard skills and soft skills. Students need a place to build strong bonds and choir is such a natural environment to create connections. In my first few years, the choir slowly morphed into a large group of extremely talented group of students who were interested and invested in singing. Sadly, it just so happened to be months before a pandemic turned the world upside down.”

COVID-19 created unique challenges for the singers. Mr. Abbott said that it was a hard time for his students and a very difficult period as an educator. The Class of 2020 Seniors in the choir had no idea that the 2019 DHS Winter Concert would be the last time they’d perform. Outgoing seniors did not have a proper graduation ceremony or farewell. When school reopened in August 2020, masks and distancing measures created new challenges.

It was Chessor’s freshmen year when the pandemic began. Despite the choir’s transitional periods since fall 2019, she said that Mr. Abbott’s efforts and guidance have remained steadfast.

“We went from about 40 singers to about half that number, singing in masks 8 feet apart. We couldn’t hear each other very well. We had to change venues for concerts and cancel events like our annual caroling at nursing homes. We lost and gained members, but Mr. Abbott is not the type of person who gives up,” said Chessor.

Chessor said that she will carry what she’s learned in choir with her forever, and she’s got some advice to offer students interested in choir.

“Singing with the DHS Choir has been the highlight of my entire high school experience. By far, it’s my favorite class and Mr. Abbott is my favorite teacher. Listening, discipline, teamwork, flexibility, adaptability – I’ve learned it all in Choir. I learned that I can still perform, even when I’m scared. And if I could offer advice to anyone who is on the fence about joining, 100% - do it. Don’t hide your voice behind the person next to you. You have something to contribute, so sing out,” advises Chessor.

The DHS Choir will hold their Winter Concert on Thursday, December 8th at the school. There will also be the opportunity to offer support through fundraising efforts that evening.

Mr. Abbott encourages interested students and parents to come out and watch.

“Our concerts are free for students and children of all ages. If you’re curious about the choir, just come and watch. Come see why graduates return year after year just for the opportunity to sing with the group again. Once you are a part of this group, you always have a place here. I’ve been so proud to work with such talented, inspiring groups of students over the years. The future is bright for the DHS Choir,” said Abbott.

The DHS Choir invites everyone to attend the Winter Concert on Thursday, December 8 at 7PM in the Dresden High School Theater. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children and K-12 students.