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South Salt Lake Journal

Cottonwood music students use tour experience as motivation for this music season

Oct 01, 2022 08:38PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

It wasn’t a music tour jammed packed with performances and competitions. 

Last spring, Cottonwood High’s choir and instrumentalists packed their bags for Southern Utah, leaving their instruments behind.

“We did clinics with professors at three colleges which was a very unusual tour for us,” instrumental teacher Amber Tuckness said. “We did not perform anywhere. We just were doing clinics because it was in May, at the end of the school year.”

The four-day tour, partially financed by GearUp, allowed students to learn about performing arts departments at Utah colleges. In addition to attending a jazz, instrumental and choral workshops, the 90 students got to see “Mary Poppins” at Tuacahn Center for the Arts in Ivins as well as explore the red rocks of Southern Utah in several state and national parks.

“We had decided not to go to California for tour because of COVID; they hadn’t really decided the protocol,” Tuckness said. “These workshops were really good. Every director was so different, and they learned about working together as an ensemble, listening and knowing your part and role in the ensemble and creating music together. There were broad topics because, we weren't going to be playing that music again, but it will definitely move over to this year.”

Choir director Cecil Sullivan said that one of the directors focused on articulation; another focused on vocal technique and another on the emotion.

“It was all very different from each director,” he said. “It was fascinating.”

Sullivan said that the directors all listened to them and focused on what they thought the groups needed.

Students also had a sound lesson at Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks where Tuckness played an alpenhorn.

Sullivan said it was “fascinating because it echoed really well in Zion because it’s a harder sandstone and it didn't echo at all in Bryce because it’s a softer, younger sandstone.

They even learned from seeing performing art professionals at the dress rehearsal of “Mary Poppins.”

“It was a performance with professionals and a live orchestra, and they had actually canceled the night before because of some technical issues,” Tuckness said. “So, the night we went they stopped the show and fixed some things because it is a very technical show. It was really good for the kids to see that even professionals have problems and struggles and need to fix things.”


She said the concepts they learned from the tour are being applied this year.

“The lessons that were learned are really important and our students who were on the tour are being good leaders and showing good musicianship through what they learned. Quite a few of them carried what they learned from the clinics into this summer with Granite Youth Symphony performances,” Tuckness said.

The directors hope it will help with school performances. The choir’s fall concert is set for Oct. 25 while the band will perform their annual Halloween concert with the theme of “Villains” on Oct. 27. Tickets are available online.

Weeks later, the concert choir will combine with other school choirs in Granite School District to perform a free Veterans’ Day concert Nov. 11 at the Salt Lake Tabernacle. December concerts also are planned.

In February, after the school musical “The Little Mermaid” that many students will participate in, the music students will go on a tour that will combine both a workshop at a southern Utah college as well as participate in a recording clinic in Disneyland before ending the school year with their spring concerts.