Four performances in two days didn’t faze 70 students at Clarkfield Area Charter School. The young performers, ages preschool through sixth grade, rocked audiences last week in their spring concert with the theme “We’ve Got Rhythm.” Rhythm sticks, jingle bells, dancing bears and gyrating bodies pulsed with a strong beat.
Older students transformed 25 sturdy, colorful drinking cups into percussion instruments to create rhythm. The concert series began with a Wednesday afternoon matinee at the school. Performances at Valhalla Apartments and the Clarkfield Care Center followed Thursday morning.
An evening performance to a near full house in the school gym capped the schedule. “I love to sing!” confessed shy, first-grade student Krystina Ramirez after the matinee performance. Her sentiment was immediately echoed by other students. CACS music teacher and concert director Doug Clevenger kept reminding students that they had done the hard work of preparation. He told them it was time to let the fun out. They did.
Even after the performances, energy levels continued to run high. Some students moved to the risers and began to dance. The climax of the program was The Cup Song, which was made popular by Anna Kendrick in the 2012 film Pitch Perfect. The song was performed by 25 students in third through sixth grade.
A total of eight soloists, two in each performance, provided the vocals while their classmates accompanied them with cups. Clevenger hasn’t seen any other groups as young as these students perform the challenging routine. He began rehearsals for The Cup Song in January, partly because he had only 25 minutes per week with each class for music lessons. The slow-motion repetition was difficult, but it paid off in the end. Virtually every student could do the routine competently four months later, aided by student leaders and extra music classes. Sometimes cups would go skidding away as students worked on their technique.
Younger students also performed a challenging rhythmic song, Blue Red Boogie. It included contrasting rhythms performed at the same time with rhythm sticks and jingle bells. They also performed Tony Chestnut and I Just Love a Dancing Bear. The preschool classes performed three songs and attracted the most attention.
The children were awestruck by the crowd in front of them. Fifth grader Braden Nelson opened the program with two piano solos, Spanish Dance, by Jennifer Eklund, and Starry Night, by Carol Matz. Braden is a student of Rhoda Nelson.