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Middle School VocalEssence

The South St. Paul Middle School introduced the WITNESS Program by VocalEssence this school year as a way to promote community, connectedness, and inclusion through music. The free program provides schools access to local musicians, lessons that combine equity and music, and a field trip to the WITNESS Choral program at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.

The VocalEssence WINTESS Program celebrates the contributions of African Americans to American heritage through music. It lines up each year with Black History Month and this year connects to the national theme of “African Americans in the Arts.” The program works with more than 50 schools in the Twin Cities and places each with a local musician who will provide live, in-class workshops. At SSP Middle School, professional jazz singer and theater performer Ginger Commodore worked with choir classes over the course of four days. She led the classes in a songwriting seminar and worked with the students on musical pieces they will see in the “WITNESS: Leading with Love,” choral performance in March.

“When Ginger came to our classroom, it was an incredible opportunity for students to connect directly with a professional musician who exemplifies Black excellence.” says Secondary School Choir Director, Maddie Reinschmidt, “In addition to the many musical benefits they gained, the more important benefit is the celebration of Black History.”

The program is also beneficial to staff, resources are available for teachers such as lesson plans, videos from past performances, free music, and more. Maddie says she has already used many of the free resources in her classroom this school year. She is looking forward to hosting the program again in the 2024-25 school year.

Students in choir class
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