The Times 

An inspired school music program in Waitsburg


To the Editor,

The energy and confident singing of the kids in the Waitsburg Elementary School Spring Music Program could have lit the whole town. None of your “Ah, shucks, I’m too shy.” These kids rocked. Two years of being pent up from covid protocols, and they were ready to bust out.

But their energy was not random. It was well-channeled into cool choreography (like the kindergarteners throwing juggling scarves as well as kicking and jabbing in “It’s a Hard-Knock Life”). Thanks to the vision, boldness, great choice of tunes, and hours of encouragement by new music teacher, Elizabeth Arebalos-Jagelski, the program inspired everybody there to cheer and laugh and clap without any need for polite “golf course” applause.

The success of the program was no accident, no hit-or-miss shot in the dark. Mrs. A-J set up a winning formula: use songs that are singable and likable from Broadway show tunes, encourage bold theatrical movement (not mousy, namby-pamby, half-baked gestures that look like nervous tics), help the singers who do solos know how to use the mic and not be afraid. The people who sang solo parts at the program, mic or no mic, to a person could be heard clearly. (Some of the children probably discovered that they had stronger and/or better voices than they had realized).

A shot out to all the people who have helped make Mrs. A-J’s efforts with our Waitsburg kids worth attending and thanks to the people of this town who have been magicians as well as musicians and believed in these young people enough to get them well beyond mediocrity.

Mr. Green and the powerful “big band” sound he could generate from his students and Mrs. Hockersmith working with the blue-grass musicians, The Troublemakers, till they sounded like the good bluegrass bands from Kentucky or Ohio.

Let’s just hope our kids and grandkids know that it’s just the beginning, and not the end, of their efforts toward well-earned glories.

Michael Kiefel

Walla Walla, Wash.


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