More Than Just the Music
Articles,  Blog

More Than Just the Music


(woman)
♪ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ♪ ♪ I believe it’s not too late ♪ ♪ Together
we can change the world ♪ (Darcy Reese)
I don’t care if you remember
a song that I teach you, but if you
can be a better human being
for being in this class, that’s what I feel is something
that I’ve given to society. (Courtland Pickens)
Music has a way of bringing
people together, and sometimes it’s hard
to just tell people a message, and it’s a lot easier to just
sing them the message. (woman)
♪ Change the world ♪ There’s nothing that stops that
woman– it’s pretty astounding and very exciting to be a part
of any project that she does. (woman)
♪ Together
we can change the world ♪ (choir)
♪ Together we can
change the world ♪ (woman) Funding for
“More Than Just the Music” is provided by… the Minnesota Arts
and Cultural Heritage Fund, with money from the vote
of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4th, 2008; and by the members
of Prairie Public. 2, ready, and. Step, fa, step fa-fa-fa. Take a step, fa-fa,
step fa-fa-fa. You are not doing
what I’m doing! You are! Watch, watch what I’m doing,
watch my arms. Ba, ba, ba-ba. (Jeanie Barnett)
What is Darcy Reese? That’s my cool. She’s a, she’s a… She’s a love. You know, it’s just,
it’s everywhere. She doesn’t let them or me or
anybody get away with nothin’. You do that. Find your cool.
1-and, 2. (Robert Robinson)
Darcy is just a ball
of energy herself. I add a little
thing in there. I don’t know how she does it. I don’t know
what medication she’s on. I need to get some! [laughs]
That’s all I can say. Cheek-a-pa-boo!
Move your hips! Da! Move your hips! Da! There’s a saying, though she be
small, she be mightier– something like that–
and that is definitely Darcy. And sap, and sap. You’re never going to do
different things like that. So if you can do this, you can
do all the little things I want. Ready, 1, 2, ready, and… Just an amazing woman. Great gift, I love the work that
she does with her choir there. Sorry, but this is all I want
right here, this is all I want. My name is Darcy Reese,
and we are at Lincoln High School
in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. My position is
the vocal choir director. (Darcy) Up!
(Darcy & choir)
♪ From our self ♪ ♪ And look to the hills ♪ ♪ For you are a help ♪ When people think
of a choir class they often will think about
just coming, singing a song, you learn songs, you learn
different, maybe music from different parts of the world,
or classical things, whatever. That’s kind of what choirs maybe
had been even here before. But Darcy really wanted to
change that. She wanted it to be something
more than just the music. Those people are coming
to the concert that night to hear a message from kids
that make a difference. Do you understand?
Are you sure? (choir) Yes. (Darcy) All right,
here we go. Ready? (Dan Christensen)
She saw that we can make an
impact with our music, we can tell a story with our music,
we can do more than just sing. (Kelly Weets)
Being in this choir is
not for the faint of heart. It’s a lot of work,
it’s a lot of physical work. Those kids will practice
for 8 hours today. It’s emotional work because
they tackle tough conversations, and they confront maybe
biases and prejudices that they didn’t even
know they had. So there’s a lot of demand,
but I think they’re willing to do it because they
see the end product. I think success breeds success,
and kids are willing to work hard when
the product they put out is, they know
it’s going to be good. So they’re willing to work hard, and they’re willing to work hard
for her. ♪ Ah ah ah ah ♪ I really don’t care
if they ever remember a song that they sing
with the choir. I want them to remember
what they learned in here about being a human being that is caring, that is kind,
that is loving, that is accepting
and respectful of all people. I love Darcy for being
that kind of person. It only starts with one, but don’t be ashamed to stand up
and be that one. We’re not going
to take this anymore. We have to be the change that we
want to see, and sometimes we look at the world as just
this big picture, and it is, but if we can start
with just ourselves, if we can start doing
something ourselves, and someone else can do
something for themselves– that’s how we can make
this world a better place. ♪ Won’t be quiet anymore ♪ ♪ Not unless they hear us
loud and clear ♪ ♪ Damage can’t be undone ♪ ♪ Let’s not pretend
it disappears ♪ ♪ We need a change ♪ ♪
♪ ♪ Or some amazing grace ♪ ♪
♪ ♪ Let’s go step by step ♪ ♪ And brick by brick ♪ ♪ I’ll carry the weight
for you ♪ Some of our concerts include
our December concert, which is
traditional choral music, not necessarily Christmas, but
it’s traditional choral music. And our May concert is
social issues. ♪ We won’t move ♪ (Darcy)
We talk about diversity, we talk about civil rights. (choir) ♪ Won’t stop us ♪
(Darcy) I shouldn’t say talk, we sing, we perform, and in the
performance we’re talking about vocal performance,
we’re talking about poetry, visual arts, and we tie
all these things together about humanity–
it’s a concert of humanity. And we incorporate a lot
of different art forms to bring that to life. (woman)
♪ And brick by brick ♪ ♪ I’ll carry the weight ♪ ♪ For you ♪ ♪ We’re not gonna stop ♪ ♪ We could stand there all day
we won’t move ♪ The May concerts have been
going on since 2000, 2001. I met some artists
out of Minneapolis that completely immersed me
into the Holocaust. We collaborated with Jeanie
and Steve that year, and really that’s kind of where the journey of everything
she’s doing started. (Darcy)
They brought poetry of
the children from Terezin. into vocal pieces. I fell in love with that,
and we started building these concerts that were
then about issues that had to do with history
and issues that had to do with empathy
and with social injustice. And it just took off from there. ♪ Shalom shalom ♪ (Steve Barnett)
Jeanie, my wife is an extraordinary musician,
composer, arranger, conductor. She in 2001 was a recipient
of a grant through MacPhail Center for
Music in downtown Minneapolis And she went up north
to Thief River Falls to work with their students
in music composition. (Jeanie Barnett)
It was a wonderful time being
an artist in residence, and you went in never knowing
what to expect. So when I went
to Thief River, I thought this is going to be great,
this will be fun, I’ve heard really great things,
but I had no idea. So I called Steve, my husband,
within the first week. When Jeanie is excited, not only does her voice go up
about a fourth, but also her southern accent
comes back, because she was originally
from Alabama. And I said baby,
we have the choir, we have the chorus to sing
“Butterfly Songs.” A high school choir?
No, they can’t do this. But they did. The used
the texts of poetry that
children who were imprisoned, in Terezin concentration camp
near Prague, the Czech Republic, had written while they were
imprisoned there. And many of the children
that wrote these poems were of the high school age. (Dane Froiland)
The music written
by Jeanie Barnett from the book “I Never Saw
Another Butterfly,” and to have music set to words
written by children that were imprisoned
at this time, it was really life-changing
and impacted me a lot. (Jeanie Barnett)
The way that I composed them is in a classical jazz format, which is the way that I write. And we had wanted
to record “Butterfly Songs”
for a long time and just could not find
the right ensemble. Because you need
that youthfulness, but need the skill, I mean, because they are not easy. And you need that depth
of empathy and compassion. And you need that point person that has attention to detail
like nobody, like Darcy has. The project was titled
“Never Again,” and we were able to perform that show basically,
or those songs, in several different locations,
we even recorded those songs. (Jeanie Barnett)
Within a year, we were at
Minnesota Public Radio. (Steve Barnett)
We recorded the whole song cycle
with her choir, with soloists from her choir, so that was my first time
to produce the choir. (Jeanie Barnett)
Steve worked with them just as
he would any professional. (Steve Barnett)
I didn’t stint, I produced them as if they were
a professional choir, and I expected
those kinds of results because by that time I had seen
what Darcy can do and what her choirs sounded like and what they were able
to do musically. So we pushed them, and the recording came out
just beautifully. (Darcy Reese)
Thief River Falls is
a predominantly white Christian community
of 8000 people. And the high school here,
it ranges between 700
to 825 students. Some of the topics
that we discuss with the students and myself are
topics definitely that are not necessarily talked about
in our small community. It’s challenging to bring it
to the forefront, but I have the support of my
principal, my superintendent, the School Board. As a parent of someone
who is in the choir, I’m happy that they’re tackling
these issues because we live in a place where
there’s not a lot of diversity, so I think sometimes it’s even
more important to talk about it. The community’s response
to what we do in May has changed since 2001. Good job. (Darcy)
I think in 2001 when we did the,
it was called “Never Again,” and that was the Holocaust. I think a lot of people like,
[Darcy gasps] what happened to just singing a few songs,
calling it good, and going home and saying good-bye to your
seniors and that was that. And I changed it every year
after that. Then it went into
the African American culture, then we brought them together. We would talk about women’s
rights sometimes, and we talk about the LGBTQ
community. That one was,
that was a shocker. That was probably
the biggest one that the community was like, um,
set back on. I’m sure that some decided
that they probably weren’t going to come back again,
but it generated conversation. ♪ A person living with AIDS ♪ I remember early on thinking,
wow, how was she able to get away with some of
the things that she’s doing? Not that they were negative,
they were good things, but you could see they were
maybe going farther than the public
would maybe want to hear. But always pushing
good narrative. Like a beautiful rainbow
at the end of the storm, we are the youth of America letting our true colors
shine through. ♪
♪ ♪ So many are smiling ♪ ♪ Don’t be unhappy ♪ ♪ And you never will ♪ ♪ And I saw you laughing ♪ (Darcy)
People are still, I think,
digesting and kind of marinating on all the different things
we talk about. One of the most beautiful things
about it is when my students come back,
and they say we had a family discussion
about this last night. My family was very supportive
in me being in choir, and the messages we were
discussing at that time. And the big thing was
the Holocaust and hate and what hate can lead to. I do remember discussions about
respect and treating others how you want the treated and
treating everyone as human. I’m not looking
to change people, I’m looking at my students
and our audience to be open to change,
be open to change, be open to the reality that the
world is changing all the time. And if we stay the same, there’s
going to be turmoil forever. Peace is, that old saying–
everybody wants world peace– it’s not that far out there, it’s really
not that far out there. You’ve just got to
get down to the basics. ♪ Music changes the world ♪ They were taught they could
change the world, and I think they believe they can, and they
are as one person at a time. ♪ Hey-ey-ey ♪ ♪ Oh oh-oh-oh ♪ I had the privilege of meeting a gentleman by the name of
Dr. Horace Clarence Boyer back in 2002 at the World Choral
Symposium in Minneapolis. I happened to
sit in on a session with
Dr. Horace Clarence Boyer. Who is one of the greats in
terms of historical knowledge, let alone style in terms of
gospel, spiritual. Now, I appreciate all genres, but I fell in love
with black gospel music. (Robert Robinson)
Gospel in and of itself,
yes, is a message, but music is bigger than that. So we are taking a message, and we’re just surrounding it by all kinds of styles. We’ve got a little jazz
we’ve got a little blues, we’ve got a little pop,
we’ve got a little classical, we’ve got all of these things
around a message, and that’s kind of like
what black gospel is. It’s a lot of different stuff
that are influencing and riding along with
this message that is just a positive message about us learning how to love
each other It became something
that I immersed myself in, not knowing how to teach it,
not knowing how to conduct it. When I left his session
that day, he gave me a card. He didn’t know me from anybody. But he inspired me so much that
I wrote on the back of the card “He will come
to my choir one day.” Two years later I had the
courage to call Dr. Boyer. His number was on there, and
left a long voice message and explained to him I was going
to create a curriculum on African American history, African American music,
dance, and art. It was a big feat for somebody
who didn’t necessarily know a lot about it other than
I enjoyed it, I liked it,
I felt a connection to it. And he called me back, and
the first thing he asked me was “Where do you live?”
He was out in Connecticut. I said “Northern Minnesota,
close to the Canadian border,” He said,
“How many black students
do you have in your choir?” And I said “One.” And he said “I need to
come up there for that one.” It’s very important the students particularly in areas
where there are no Asians, African Americans or Native
Americans to get to know people because it’s so much better
for you to know someone then getting it from TV
or television. (Dan Christensen)
Our show that we did
with Dr. Boyer, we actually performed it
in a high school in Harlem. and we were very nervous
about this, like how were we
going to be received by an all pretty much
African American community when this whole group of
northern Minnesota white kids are coming in
and singing their music? I feel like Darcy was like, you
know, it’s just going to work. It’s going to be okay, we just had to trust her,
and it really was. Darcy is catching these kids
at a really good age where they can enjoy
the experience and feel good
about the experience of just hearing something
and being able to sing it. The biggest thing
about the experience of learning
black gospel music is the fact that we do
most of what we do rote, which means I sing a part, and you emulate what I’m trying
to sing, you emulate it in the voice, not an octave
lower, in the same register. (Dr. Boyer) ♪ Hall-e-lu-jah ♪ (all) ♪ Hall-e-lu Hall-e-lu ♪ ♪ Hall-e-lu-jah ♪ ♪ Hall-e-lu
Hall-e-lu Hall-e-lu ♪ ♪ Hall-e-lu Hall-e-lu ♪ I learned how to conduct
black gospel music from Robert Robinson. Now let’s get lively
in the house! For about 20 years
I was the founder, executive and artistic director for the Twin Cities Community
Gospel Choir. We had offices on
the north side of Minneapolis. I was sitting in my office and I
got a phone call from Darcy. I didn’t know who she was,
never heard of her before, and she started telling me
all about this program, and I, I was hooked. When I got there I was totally,
totally hooked. The kids responded really well. They were excited, they were a
little nervous in the beginning. But by the time it was,
we were ready to do the show, their energy was unbelievable. I was tired,
and they dragged me along. ♪ Yea ♪ ♪ Yea aa-aa-aa aa-aa-aa ♪ ♪ Is there anybody
in here tonight ♪ ♪ Who believes that the Lord
will make a way ♪ ♪ He will make a way ♪ (Robert)
♪ I know he will ♪ (choir) ♪ He will make a way ♪ (Robert) ♪ Come on
and put your hands together ♪ ♪ He will make a way ♪ (Darcy)
I feel like I could crowd surf
sometimes because the adrenaline
is going so much, and it’s just, it’s just Feeling the spirit just take
you over and just go with it. So Dr. Boyer was huge
in setting the foundation for what it is that
I had no idea was to come. (choir)
♪ Tomorrow will be kinder ♪ ♪ I know happiness ♪ We cut our own CD at Skywalker
Ranch in California. You need it one more time, or
should we do it from the top? (man) Yeah, let’s
do it one more
time from the top. All right.
Stand by. One of the things
that George Lucas did was get the marketing money
for the original Star Wars. He was very smart,
he was able to build one of the finest studios
in the world, not just for recording, but also
for post production, for film, a big studio, can house probably
200 people comfortably. (Darcy)
Skywalker was our steppingstone to be able to produce
a top-notch recording of the type of music that we do
at our May concerts. (Steve Barnett)
For two days we recorded like we
would a professional recording. So we recorded the rhythm tracks
first and then overdubbed, brought in the choir,
brought in the soloists, and they would sing to
the rhythm track, and that’s exactly how it’s done in
a real professional situation. We wanted to give them
the experience of doing it
the way it should be done if you’re going to go
to a professional studio. So we thought well,
we’ve got 60 kids, they are all going to have to be using
headphones to hear the sound. And I thought are they
going to do that? Are they going to be able to
handle that kind of thing? Of course! They are used to
having headphones, they’re used to having
a playback. These kids are like
professionals. ♪ Hallelujah ♪ ♪ Anyhow ♪ ♪ Wait a minute one more time
I think I’ll say it again ♪ We had some soloists, some
extraordinary soloists! And they held their own,
they know the style, they know how to produce
the music and the results are just
knockout performances! ♪ We are wedded ♪ ♪ To stop the hatred ♪ ♪ And we will discover ♪ ♪ There is no need
to fear each other ♪ Audacity of Hope
is one of the songs on the CD, and it’s also
the title of the CD. It’s an ironic title–
how can you have audacity to have hope
in a world like this? The kids bring it,
and they sing it. ♪ It’s in my prayer ♪ And they make sure
that you understand that they do, they represent
the hope of the world. ♪ Every nation every color ♪ ♪ We are one ♪ The population
of my high school choir ranges anywhere from 130
to 160 kids. I think that Darcy has a unique
relationship with her students because she has them
for so many years. For some of the students,
she’s had them for 6 years. So you build
a lot of trust there that maybe some other teachers
aren’t afforded because they may see a student
one or two years. It’s almost like she’s
one of their family members. The kids can relate to her, they talk to her in a way
where they trust her. I can tell that they love her. I feel like
those things are very important
when building a team because the team needs to know
that they can trust that you’re going to take them
where they want to go, and they do with her. I remember going to choir
concerts when I was in middle school, and just
thought, wow, that’s amazing, I want to be a part of that. It grew into something much more
than just coming in and singing. ♪ Together
we can change the world ♪ When you enter 9th grade, you are eligible to be in this
class, which is an elective, which is Bel Canto, it’s made up
of 9th and 10th graders. 10th grade students, again,
a lot of them will go from 9th grade right
into 10th grade and be in the choir
and stay with it. So there’s no audition process
there, and they’re all
9th and 10th graders. If you want to go on to my
concert choir, that’s the choir that tours, that’s the choir
that goes on major trips and did the Skywalker
recording opportunity… A little bit more powerful
with your prayer. …you need to audition, so
those students will audition the end
of their 10th grade year. Once they get in as a junior,
they are in as long as they want to be
a part of it. It’s clear, our world is still
in need of healing and will continue to be until we transition
from a foundation of hate to a foundation of humanity. When I audition my kids
for choir, I am only looking for singing, but things come out of the
woodwork as they are in here. All of a sudden I realize,
oh my heavens, I have great instrumentalists
in here, I have great writers in here, I have
awesome speech students in here, and I have phenomenal dancers
that are in here, and all of a sudden the show
just evolves based on the talent
that the students have. Society paints
a very specific picture and tries to force conformity, but when that image
directly conflicts with the color of someone’s skin
or the shape of their nose or the hair that grows
out of their own head, what is one to feel
but out of place? What is one to feel
but insecure? Darcy feels that it’s very
important to expose her students to not only professional
musicians, great music, but people who in a sense
bring something that the kids may not
have had exposure to. ♪ Woven voices woven threads ♪ In this specific concert,
Woven Voices, Woven Threads, she brought together
a Native American a wonderful black gentleman,
Dr. Boyer, and she brought me up
as a Jewish person. As representatives of
3 very different colors. American Indian. African American. And Jew. There were so many similarities,
there are so many similarities between the African American
culture, the American Indian culture,
and the Jewish history. (Steve Barnett)
She said come and give the history of the Jewish people
to the kids in an hour, which was a little
on the challenging side. Of course, I droned on
much longer than I should have. When I finished talking,
the crowd was up– why is this way,
or what happened here? What should we do,
how can we make it better? That’s just so typical of what Darcy has instilled
with her students– it’s the thirst for knowledge, and
the need to make connections and the need to try
and improve the world. Fabulous musicians
from Red Lake, which is only miles away
from here. One of their historians came
and spoke to my students. The very definition of people
is founded on being connected. The one thing that was really
interesting was that there was a bridge that some of
my American Indian friends said was finally starting to be built between Thief River Falls
and Red Lake because of the project
that we did, which I thought was
absolutely beautiful. It was a wonderful
integration again of 3 extraordinarily
different styles finding a way to work together. I really truly believe
that change is doable by a small amount of people. This movement, T. H. I. S., This movement, T.H.I.S. standing
for the hero inside shines. So what these students give into the show in May is that, they’re the heroes,
and we want everybody to look at themselves as a hero
and shine, and shine with kindness,
shine with empathy, shine with respect for others. ♪ Whoa oh ♪ ♪ People don’t you be afraid ♪ (Darcy)
the quote that the kids have– “We refuse to let the world be
as it is.” That is the key working line Of the T.H.I.S.
Movement project. The kids are saying we refuse, we refuse to let people
be unkind. How dare you take
civil rights away? How dare you not be
a good humanitarian? ♪ The power of love ♪ ♪ There’s so much strength
in you and me ♪ (Dan Christensen)
I feel like it’s really… and for all the students
who’ve come through since, opened our eyes to maybe
the things that we have, things we need to be
more grateful for, but also to open our eyes to the human
condition around the world like what are people
going through. You don’t have to understand,
but to respect other people and their ways,
whether it’s their gender, or whatever their belief system
is with that. And the added line is, we’ll
do it one note at a time until our world can be
a better place for everybody. ♪ A colorful future ♪ ♪ Skin don’t define any human ♪ I think she’s bringing to
their attention the fact that, 1. you don’t want to be
an instrument in this earth that says one thing
and lives another. Secondly, by singing this,
by talking about this, which is something
they do in rehearsal, it really kind of
brings it all home for them. This is got to be something
that I walk out, even now
in my high school years, I’ve got to figure out
how to be nice to people. I’ve got to figure out
how to love myself, I’ve got to figure out how
to not give up on myself. I got to figure out how to
not give up on people that I really don’t want
to be bothered with. I mean, there’s all of this
that is encompassed in the kind of music they have
done over the years, and I feel like that is
definitely the way to go. ♪ I matter you matter ♪ ♪ We matter all ♪ ♪ I matter you matter ♪ ♪ We matter all ♪ ♪ Powerful ♪ ♪ Powerful ♪ (Kelly Weets)
The work in this choir is kind
of emotionally taxing sometimes. They don’t
just learn music, they also
have really hard conversations, they confront one another
on issues. They act more like a family,
and sometimes families fight. Sometimes they don’t get along,
but then they forgive, and they move forward. (Darcy)
I have 10 students that are on
a production committee. These are the kids that want to
go the extra mile, that will take an hour
and a half every other week to sit down
and discuss these issues. How do we incorporate it into,
what do you think about this? Where do we want to go with
getting our message across? I think the purpose of the
production committee is to take everything that we do, not completely out of the hands
of Reese, but to just give
the students a say in what we get to talk about
and what we get to sing. Breaking barriers,
building a foundation. This is not a Reese production. This is our production,
this is our project. This is our journey,
you choose to come and be a part of our journey
by coming to our concerts. I’ve got an idea on it.
So Alyce had the title, “Breaking barriers, building
a foundation of humanity.” If humanity is the title, foundation is all those things
we talked about. (all) Oh! [all laugh] We come out with a bunch of,
like hate and love and all those things, but we
mainly focus on the ones that are affecting us like
at home and around the world. (Darcy)
Topics are student driven, we talk about what issues do we
want to tackle this time. And again, always it’s about
acceptance or respect I think the overall message
always comes back to love and acceptance and treating
people equally and maybe not understanding, you don’t have to understand
why someone is this way, but you have to love them no
matter what and not spew hatred. We’re helping each other and not
standing against each other. (Darcy)
Some of my proudest moments
of being a teacher is when these young people can
sit and discuss tough issues and agree to disagree
and be open-minded to it, pause sometimes, sit back, realize that you don’t have
the say on the whole table. Yup, that’s
the point she brought up,
and I thought it was very valid. Ideas are shot down
because we are thinking of
what could be better, not because of a dislike
or even a disagreement. And at the end,
we’ve made some decisions. That’s huge!
These kids can take that with
them for the rest of their life and use it, I hope,
in a lot of different areas. (Luis Calderon)
It opened my mind so much,
and it made me who I am today. It’s amazing, and I thank Reese
and my choir family, my fellow students because they
accept me just the way I am and I accept them
just the way they are. [playing in syncopated rhythm] (Jeanie Barnett)
Darcy has an amazing
music program. They are receptive in trying
something new. They are respectful,
they understand the basics of music more
than any other school program that I’ve ever worked with. (Dan Christensen)
Darcy has created a culture
amongst her kids where they truly want to be
invested in what they are doing. She starts of that with them
as sixth graders. (Steve Barnett)
She integrates music. She teaches the kids
music theory. They learn to sing properly;
they all sing correctly. (Jeanie Barnett)
She believes in getting quality professional musicians
to work with her students so that they have those high
expectations and experience. Then Alyce, tell me in the
microphone if it’s too fast or too slow right away so we can
get the tempo right. (Michael O’Brien)
An experience for
these kids here to have professionals coming in
to work with them, the idea that somebody can
do this for a living or that somebody is
a professional, that that’s even possible
is already a spark or a theme for thinking
down the line. Are we ready? The artists have been
a huge part of what we do because I don’t want to worry
about do I have players that can
handle what we’re doing? The players add
to what the kids already have worked on
for 8 months, and the players come in
and just put it together. When the string part
comes in, do you want us
to follow that exactly? (Darnell Davis)
She just doesn’t play any games,
she takes no shortcuts. She expects the best
out of them. One of her favorite sayings
to the kids is, “You’re better than this,
you’re not average.” You know, and to hear someone
say that, to let them know like, hey, that’s good, but that’s
only average, you can do better. There’s more to you,
push harder. Like to really pull
the best out of them. Can you make it better?
You’ve got 2 more times. (Kelly Weets)
Being in choir is hard, and I want my kids
to have to work hard at stuff. I want them to
have to work hard, then see the product
that can come from that and see the growth
that can come from that. When you put in the time,
and you put in the effort and you put in the energy,
this wonderful thing can happen. ♪ Out of the ruins and rubble ♪ ♪ Out of the smoke ♪ (Gary Sorvig)
To get into the choir was
special in the first place. Then what she brought
to the choir, what she taught in the choir, the humanity aspect, the caring
about other cultures, all the things that you wouldn’t
see in a normal classroom– my kids just benefited
greatly from it. ♪ We can build ♪ ♪ A beautiful city ♪ ♪ Yes we can ♪ (Dan Christensen)
Back when I was in the choir,
I mean really a lot of what we were
looking at then was more cultural,
and I would say less topical. I feel like that has evolved
over the years into more than just like, hey this is what
these people went through. Now it’s like the whole topic
of hate in general. ♪ We may not reach the ending ♪ ♪ But we can start ♪ We are living in a world
that is very, we’re polarized, where there’s people that,
we’re hateful, we’re angry, There’s a lot of issues
just with that. I think teaching tolerance,
teaching acceptance, caring, loving, not hating, I think those are important
things to shape the future of these students
that walk in the doors. They’re the future of America,
they’re the future of our world. ♪ Yes we can ♪ (Gary Sorvig)
As they’ve grown older
and gone on with their lives, the things that I see about them
that I assume is with many of the other kids
that went through there. is that they don’t put up with
negatives in society. Prejudice bothers them, and they
are not afraid to tell people that it’s wrong, and they
embrace all humans. It’s just very comforting
as a parent to know that these are things that were
instilled in that choir. ♪ Bitter and battered ♪ ♪
slowly start to ♪ Or you can ♪ Build ♪ ♪ A beautiful city ♪ ♪ Yes we can ♪ ♪ Yes we can ♪ The fact that my kids have been
in this choir all along for the last many years, the kids
that have been in our choir. It’s just normal
for them to work this hard and attain this much and to have
these opportunities and to be able to go
to these venues, I think that sometimes they
begin to feel like it’s a normal thing, and I just
want them to know that it’s not. There aren’t a lot of kids that
get to perform at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center
or Skywalker Ranch. And for that I hope
that they realize the impact that this choir has
had in their lives. They may not realize it just
yet, but someday they will. (Darcy)
It’s always a challenge to find the dollars that it takes
to do what we do. Every year
the May concert, because my artists are professionals,
and I don’t use them. They get paid what
their artist fees are. With the artist fees, that comes
their fee, hotel, food, transportation, especially when
they’re coming, some of them drive, some of them fly in
from New York, from New Jersey. I am kind of tired;
I just got here. (Darcy)
It’s a challenge to find
the funds, but I think what I have that has
made it easier is number one,
I’ve been here for 32 years, and number two, the community
knows the project at the end. (Kelly Weets)
We really do support the arts. We want the whole student,
a well-rounded student So we are supportive
of athletics and activities in the arts and
of them all working together I want to
welcome you. (Darcy)
I have awesome,
awesome support in this town, that they will come and say, where are you at this year?
What are your needs? Last year I had one
of my fathers of an alum who is now a grandfather
of one of my students donate $10,000 because he said where do you want to go with
your middle school curriculum? I said I’d love to incorporate
this, and I’d love to incorporate that,
and he said, “Let’s do it!” There’s different fundraising
opportunities that take place. We can sell raffle tickets
or things like that. Last year
we did a telethon where people
could call in their donations. There are
people like me that don’t like
to do a lot of fundraising, so I end up
just making monthly payments. She makes it really easy. At the beginning of the year
she figures out how much the trip is going to be, then
we have a little payment book so it doesn’t have to hit you
so hard all at one time. Because these things
that we do are not cheap. I remember the first time we
received a letter in the mail that said Darcy Reese, we are
planning on this monster deal, wherever we were going at that
particular first time, and it was like $2300, and I
thought, are you crazy? (Kelly Weets)
The more we can take the burden
off the families and off the students
with financial donations Through the community or things
like that, the better it is. (Darcy)
I think that trust factor
that the community has with me, they might not agree
with everything I do, but maybe the trust factor, they know it’s for the kids;
what’s best for the kids. (Gary Sorvig)
From seeing it as a parent,
from being in the, just experiencing
the choir concerts from being with on their tour,
I have to say that it is one of the best spent dollars
I’ve had as far as seeing what you get
on the other end. and how that’s helped
and changed and made the people that
my children have become. Very much worth
every single dollar. This isn’t a curriculum that is exclusive to Lincoln
high school and to my students. Anybody can do this, and I truly
feel if I’ve done my job well, It will go out
to other teachers. Go right into it! (Dane Froiland)
I know I could never begin to
tackle the project like this. I think the idea is great that we’re teaching more
than just the music, We’re teaching life skills,
we’re teaching tolerance, we’re teaching acceptance, we’re
teaching humanity. (Darcy)
Here we go! 1, 2, 3, 4. Right up, ready, go girls go! (Dane Froiland)
I may not do a project
like this, but I will teach these life skills–
not to hate; be accepting of one another;
be human. I think we have a very unique
situation on our hands. We have a director who is
well-connected, who has more confidence than
anybody I’ve ever met. (Darcy)
Don’t go high own that boys! (Kelly)
I think she just kind of
exudes confidence, and you just trust her then. (Dan Christensen)
She just has no fear in going
out and approaching people, then telling them
about what she does, and getting them
excited about it. ♪ And the walls come
a-tumbalin’ down ♪ (Kelly)
She gives an idea,
and you’re like, wow! We can do that,
we can make that happen. We can make a difference–
do you want a voice? And I guarantee you,
your kids knowing that
they have that power to do that will take your program
to a whole nother level. ♪ Fit the battle
yes the battle of Jericho ♪ ♪ Battle he fought
the battle of Jericho ♪ ♪ Battle Jericho ♪ ♪ The walls ♪ ♪ Come ♪ ♪ Tumbalin’ ♪ ♪ Down ♪ They are kind of
a circular thing. When you have someone who kids
are willing to work for, they’re willing to put in
the time, then the director keeps putting that effort
right back into them, so it works really well. Add that to a supportive
community and school culture, and you have kind of
the perfect combination. You got that? The community that Darcy
works in trusts Darcy, which is a wonderful thing. So because they trust her, they
are willing to go on a limb, and they allow her to do the
fundraising she needs to do. They’ve seen the product, the concerts have proven,
have spoken for themselves. Emulating that means,
number one, the nucleus behind all of this
is a person like Darcy… I want you to find a space
on the floor right now. (Robert Robinson)
…who is a never say die, never say quit, I’m going to
make this happen. If the leadership or the nucleus
of those communities, those school community choirs doesn’t have that kind of
spirit, it won’t work. (Darcy)
Walk with your voice! If you go forward and say
this dies as Darcy moves on, I don’t think
that’s fair to the kids, the future kids here
or anywhere else. (Darcy)
The bottom line is that you’re
doing this for the kids. You’re doing this for the world, you are doing this
for their future. ♪ Hear our humble ♪ If anybody is going to change
anything, it’s our kids. And if we don’t grab them at
this age, and/or younger, when is anything
ever going to change? ♪ On who we rely ♪ New energy! I think it can be done, I hope
for future students here and everywhere else
that people try. How’s everybody doing today? (Courtland Pickens)
I remember meeting her and seeing what she provided
for her students, the relationship
that she built with them, the sound that she produced
from them. All of the students looked like they had an amazing time
with her, and I wanted to re-create that
here in the Twin Cities area. There was no other place
that I thought to it at other than the high school
that I graduated from, which is
Patrick Henry High School. And here I am 5 years later absolutely modeling after
what Darcy is doing, The scope of our concerts has
been as far as where we perform, it has been
Thief River Falls obviously, Minneapolis, Chicago, New York City many times too,
Jazz at Lincoln Center, to Alice Tully Hall
in Lincoln Center. Now this year we’re
going to incorporate bringing in another school
with us. (Courtland Pickens)
We have this amazing opportunity where my good friend Darcy Reese
In Thief River Falls, we’re going to do
this huge concert there. And we’re going to be singing
an original song. (woman) Okay! [choir cheers] We are going to be traveling
to Minneapolis to work with the Patrick Henry
High School Concert Choir. In January their choir
is going to come here, and we are going to
rehearse with them. Then they are actually
going to be coming up here, and here’s the kicker. Then in May, we’re going
to put it all together, and it’s going to be
so good. Y’all excited? [all cheer] We talk a lot in this class
about being diverse and wanting to be
equal among all. The fact that we get to find someone from
a different demographic, and be able to work with them
is just mind blowing to me. (Darcy)
Patrick Henry High School became involved with our project
because of their choir director. My name is Courtland Pickens, and we’re at
Patrick Henry High School. I’m considered the artist in
residence here at the school, so I teach the choir. I met Courtland, I don’t know,
maybe 5, 6 years ago. He was one of the singers
that we would bring up here from Minneapolis with
Darnell Davis and the Remnant. After a couple of times of us
going to Thief River Falls, I felt so inspired by the work
that Darcy was doing, and once I started to work
at Patrick Henry High School, I knew instantly like,
I have to connect with Darcy, like we need to have
both choirs meet, and we need to do
something big together. (Darcy)
It’s time, it’s time,
we put this together, and because we have
quite the diversity from his choir to my choir,
we’re going to put us all together and bring
the issues to light. If you are perfect, you can’t
grow, you can’t prosper, you can’t go past the limit
you already see as perfect. Sorry, I love that– if
you’re perfect you can’t grow. A lot of their stories are
a lot similar to the students’ stories
that I have here, a lot of things to do with families and
personal things they go through. That’s why I think
it’s so important to have those messages shine, because those topics resonate
with the students. It’s things that
they’re going through. We are going to
sing pieces together that actually
Darnell Davis is writing. One of the pieces that’s going
to kind of tie us together. (Darnell Davis)
So she gave me
just some statements and some lines
that the students had given. We took those words and we just
began to come up with something. We came up with the song
Let’s Come Together. We’ll teach you the melody, then we’ll put the parts
around it and go from there. ♪ Let’s come together ♪ ♪ Learn from each other ♪ ♪ My sister my brother ♪ (Darnell Davis) We’re better!
It talks about coming together, breaking down barriers,
standing together in unity, loving one another. (Chris Wilkes)
I’m looking forward
to hearing the sound that’s from the inner city
and the rural. And they’re just coming together
and just hearing how it sounds. (Darnell Davis)
We taught it today,
and it was great. The kids were, they sounded,
they sounded amazing. They sounded great.
So the song is all about unity. It’s all about coming together, it’s all about loving
one another, and that’s really what we need
today in this world. We really need love,
unity, and peace. (Courtland Pickens)
It’s really like a dream, not only for our choirs
to come together, but for Darcy and I
to come together, and actually do
an explosive concert. I can’t wait; it’s going to be
amazing. I can already hear it. ♪ We know
where the world is now ♪ (Darnell Davis)
To see a final result each year,
it’s like, wow. We start this process when we’re
teaching and learning the songs, and we go through all this,
then to stand up and watch the response
of the audience. ♪ We can stand in unity ♪ Connecting with people in
the audience, seeing people being moved to tears, myself
being moved to tears, and feeling that raw visceral
internal emotional experience– it’s a magical thing, it’s a connection that’s
really really special. You cannot help but have tears
at the end of her program or even during the program. ♪ If we learn
to love each other ♪ (Steve Barnett)
I’ve never seen
anything like it. She is unique, the strength of the young people
that she works with, they’re instilled with the kind
of background that you need to get along in this world
and to make a difference. ♪ We are one in the Lord ♪ ♪ And we’ll stand together ♪ ♪ Forever more ♪ ♪ And we’ll stand together ♪ ♪ Forever more ♪ ♪ And we’ll stand together ♪ ♪ Forever more ♪ Bring it back!
Bring it back! ♪ More ♪ The fact that they’re getting
the confidence in addition to the love
and the acceptance– Everything that was going on
tonight is really special. I am so grateful, so blessed to
be a part of this creation that, yeah, I may have started it,
but it took on its own life. I love you. I love you too. (Darcy)
And I hope that when I’m gone, I hope that parts of it
can continue, but I will treasure this
for the rest of my life, and if I never came back
even tomorrow, I would know that I’ve done everything
that I possibly could and have become a better person
because of it. ♪ Make a joyful noise ♪ ♪ Shout to the Lord ♪ ♪ For the Lord is good ♪ ♪ And His mercies endureth
forever and ever on ♪ ♪ Make a joyful noise ♪ ♪ Shout to the Lord ♪ ♪ For the Lord is good ♪ ♪ And His mercies endureth
forever and ever on ♪ (man) To order a DVD copy of
“More Than Just the Music ” visit our online store at… or call… (woman) Funding for
“More Than Just the Music” is provided by… the Minnesota Arts
and Cultural Heritage Fund, with money from the vote
of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4th, 2008; and by the members
of Prairie Public.

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