Love of song and dance: New director breathes life into program
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 6, 2015
The Picayune Memorial High and Junior High School show choir programs are rocking and rolling under the tutelage of new choir director Brandon Boulton.
The Decatur, Mississippi native’s love for music can be traced back to his middle and high school years.
Boulton is a show choir alumn and was also a drum major in both high school and community college.
For the past seven years, Boulton has worked as a freelance choreographer providing assistance to cheer teams, show choirs and musical theater productions.
He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in music education and voice.
“I knew that student interest in Picayune’s show choir had dwindled and I thought this would be a good place to come and rebuild a program,” Boulton said.
A typical class with Boulton begins with a vocal warm up. The students are then taught the choreography and vocals for a song piece by piece.
“We start with the introduction and clean up the choreography and voice,” Boulton said. “Once they learn that part of the song, we move on to the next section.”
Boulton’s students learn and perform both traditional and show choir music. In the fall, Boulton’s lessons focus on mature chorale music and during the spring, students learn show and pop music to perform during their show in May.
“It’s important that students experience traditional chorale music,” Boulton said. “Some colleges want to see that in a student’s background.”
One of Boulton’s goals is to introduce students to tougher music, but for now he is concentrating on rebuilding their love of choral music.
For the spring show, Boulton’s students learn the lyrics and dance moves to popular songs such as Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” and Lady Gaga’s “Applause.”
As a music educator, Boulton said he enjoys introducing the students to songs from his own musical library and musical theater. It provides a good balance, he said.
The students recently competed at South Jones Show Choir Invitational, the Mississippi Show Choir competition at PRCC and Petal’s Show Choir competition.
“They didn’t do as great as they wanted to, but set a new standard for what they want to be,” Boulton said.
Senior Aleia Dunn has been in show choir for the past five years because she loves to sing and dance.
“It’s good for me to get out of my comfort zone,” Dunn said. “It’s a real family environment in this class. Mr. Boulton is a more structured director and he’s dedicated and serious. My favorite part is being around the students and doing what we love, which is singing and dancing.”
Sophomore Caleb Crowe, who is also a ballplayer, said he was asked by his friends to join show choir.
“It’s a different activity for me and not normally something I would do,” Crowe said. “It’s a fun social environment.”
Eighth grader Kaitlyn Walker said she always wanted to be on stage ever since she watched her sister perform in show choir.
“Before this year, I didn’t know how to read music,” Walker said. “Mr. Boulton taught us that and proper breathing techniques.”
Eighth grader Bethany Adams said she likes that she can express herself during show choir class.
“I learned that split harmony music provides the perfect balance and sounds awesome,” Adams said. “This is such an important program because people grow into something else here. The people who have bigger personalities bring others out of their shells.”
Boulton said the arts are a vital part of a student’s education.
“This is the only class where they don’t have to sit and work towards a standard,” Boulton said. “They can express themselves in a positive environment. Everyone gets to participate and it’s a good healthy outlet for them.”
The high school group, which is named Genesis and the junior high group, Con Spirito, will perform their spring show Thursday, May 7 at the Picayune Memorial High School Auditorium at 7 p.m. Admission is $2.