By Elaine Omann
Members of the Atlantic Coast High School chorus showcased their talent by performing with rock group Foreigner at a concert at Daily’s Place on Aug. 3. Notably for all Foreigner fans, the chorus was featured in the band’s encore performance of “I Want to Know What Love Is” that brought the house down. The crowd near the front exit was dancing and appeared to be having their personal memory of that song.
Choral instructor Deborah J. McDuffie said, “These are ordinary kids doing extraordinary things.”
It can be added that an extraordinary teacher and director mentors and supports these kids. McDuffie is highly qualified in Music K-12, ESE Certified, and ESOL Endorsed. She is an instructor of Chorus, Musical Theatre, Dance Techniques, and Music of the World.
Atlantic Coast choral students get an early morning start at 7:15 a.m. During class, McDuffie models for the singers and provides figurative language expressions such as “put it in the pocket” or “rubber band it” to make her points. She insists they articulate the words with their voices and describes music with words like frantic, brash, prettier, and mellow to help in understanding and make adjustments. She is patient, jokes with the students, and shows them consideration when making corrections by saying, “This is my thought.”
The students work on music for almost 90 minutes with energy — and this is the start of their day.
The chorus’s next performance scheduled is the 9/11 Remembrance Concert at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Jacksonville, where the choir will perform with other city groups.
Student Joseph Bush said, “We are the future and we are doing this [concert] remembering life and those who died.”
The remaining schedule for the school’s chorus is in the planning stages.
According to Zeina Spaulding, the school’s new principal, “Ms. McDuffie does an amazing job finding unique places for the students to perform.”
Find the choral schedule on the school website, dcps.duvalschools.org/achs, and be sure to support this group with your attendance.
Photo by Elaine Omann
Choral instructor Deborah J. McDuffie leads her students at their early morning class.