This holiday season Ti student musicians had four performances — the annual community Tiny Tim concert, the Kiwanis senior citizen holiday party, a visit to Heritage Commons nursing home and the annual school concert — in two weeks. That flurry of activities capped four months of rehearsals.
Jacob Crowe planned on getting some rest over the holiday break.
“I’m not a morning person, so getting up early is no fun,” the Ticonderoga High School
junior said. “I’d like to sleep in.”
There’s been little sleep for Ti’s student musicians the past few months. They rehearsed for a series of holiday programs before and after school — often arriving for 7 a.m. jazz band practice and staying through 8:30 p.m. choir sessions.
“Our students are incredibly busy with academics, sports and music,” Nelson Shapiro, Ti High music teacher said. “We have rehearsals whenever we can find the time around other activities. We rehearse before school, after school and students come in during free periods for individual lessons.”
That work ethic impresses Shapiro.
“I never take them (students) for granted,” he said. “I admire their work ethic and dedication. It’s a privilege to work with them.”
Crowe thinks it’s a privilege work with Shapiro.
“‘Shap’ is the Ticonderoga music program,” Crowe said. “He makes it all work. He says he’s not a morning person, but I don’t believe him. He’s always here at 7 a.m. ready to go to work, full of energy. Sometimes when we’re not at our best, he’ll stop the rehearsal and tell us a silly joke. It’s usually not a very good joke, but it wakes us up and gives us the energy we need to get going.”
Ashley Costello, a junior, agrees.
“Mr. Shapiro is the only person I know who is wide awake at 7 a.m.,” she said. “He’s ready to work and we need to be, too.
“To think that one person can mean so much is amazing,” she added. “He is Ticonderoga music.”
Shapiro dismisses that talk. He pointed to the contributions of Michael Iturrino and Jolene Harrigan, other Ti music teachers, and credited the students for the success of the Ti music program.
“We (teachers) have a lot of fun and the kids see that,” Shapiro said. “They realize you can work hard and still have fun.”
The Ti High music program involves nearly 100 students in the chorus, band, Sentinel Big Band (jazz), Night Shadows make choir and Trebled Voices female choir. Many are in multiple groups.
When Shapiro arrived in Ticonderoga 35 years ago there were nine girls in the chorus and 15 band members.
This holiday season Ti student musicians had four performances — the annual community Tiny Tim concert, the Kiwanis senior citizen holiday party, a visit to Heritage Commons nursing home and the annual school concert — in two weeks. That flurry of activities capped four months of rehearsals. Students also held a fruit sale that will help finance a trip to see a Broadway play and a United Nations visit this spring.
“We work hard, but we laugh a lot, too,” Shapiro said of the hectic pace. “Our rehearsals are always upbeat and there’s a sense of collaborative warmth. Ticonderoga has great kids. We prove it everyday.”
Ticonderoga’s musicians have a lot to say about their program. Shapiro regularly solicits student opinions as they prepare for a performance.
Costello is the director of the Trebled Voices. Its members make all decisions about the music, solos, arrangements and more.
“It’s not always easy, but we talk and decide as a group,” Costello said of Trebled Voices. “We usually end up voting on songs we’d like to sing.”
Crowe said the Night Shadows has a special surprise for the annual pops concert this spring. It’s rumored the all-male choir will perform a version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”
“All I can say is that’s going to be a lot of fun,” Crowe smiled.
The Ti students enjoy almost everything about the music program, but they admit performing is special.
“It’s a really good feeling when you finish a song and everyone in the audience is smiling and clapping,” Costello said. “You feel like you really accomplished something.”
“When you hear the applause and you realize it’s for you, that’s special,” Crowe said.
The music experience at Ti High is long lasting.
“Every few weeks I get a letter or card from a former student telling me how much they enjoyed being part of the program,” Shapiro said. “This time of year a lot of college students come home and stop by to visit. For many, this is the experience they remember after high school.”