Archive for Friday, June 26, 2020

Tradition-rich song to play on video board at Tonganoxie High graduation

Tonganoxie High School choral seniors join with fellow THS vocalists to perform a virtual version of "Maybe Someday," which seniors in Chieftain Singers perform annually during graduation.

Tonganoxie High School choral seniors join with fellow THS vocalists to perform a virtual version of "Maybe Someday," which seniors in Chieftain Singers perform annually during graduation.

June 26, 2020

If you’ve attended a number of Tonganoxie High School graduation ceremonies, there’s a song that you probably know by heart even if carrying a tune isn’t your thing.

THS vocal director Tom Gifford has been leading THS seniors as they perform “Maybe Someday” at graduation every year he’s been at THS. This is his 14th year in Tonganoxie, and it’s a tradition that existed when he started his tenure here.

This year, the song’s lyrics really hit home, considering that’s where many have spent the last couple months mostly confined due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lyrics go beyond a reminder that senior class members will be going their separate ways, whether for more education, enter the military or start their careers.

“It kind of has a different meaning when you‘re in quarantine,” Gifford said. “It was just that weird time, and the words — we normally don’t really think about it that much.”

As Gifford noted, instead of “maybe someday” we’ll see you at homecoming or the holidays, a class reunion or the like, it’s not become “maybe someday” friends and classmates can gather in normal settings time marches on through the pandemic.

On Tuesday, though the Chieftain Singers and senior class vocalists in that group won’t get to perform the tradition-rich song or another song that’s selected each year, that familiar tune will play at commencement exercises.

Some seniors and other THS vocalists collaborated a few weeks ago to create a virtual rendition of “Maybe Someday.”

Gifford then put the voices together and created a YouTube video of the performance, complete with a montage tribute to the senior members.

The video will play at graduation, which is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.

The video board at the 20,000-seat stadium will show the performance during the ceremony.

“That’s going to be really neat,” Gifford said. “I think it will hold up just fine, and the audio recording is pretty good.

“It should have pretty good sound. It will be very cool to see that at the stadium.”

Gifford first pitched the idea during the spring semester when teachers were meeting with student virtually online.

He opened up the project to the seniors and then other vocalists.

He received a mixed response to the new way of performing a song “because this is a really freaky thing to do, these online choirs.”

Vocalists recorded themselves on their phones while their own voice and the accompaniment of Carolyn Day piped through their earbuds. Day has provided piano accompaniment for THS for several years.

Gifford then put together all of those videos and voices and sounds through software that was like a home recording studio.

With help from his daughter, Amelia, on the video side, the collaborative performance became YouTube reality. Amelia just finished her freshman year at UMKC where she’s studying film and media arts and music. She put the video together in a couple hours one afternoon.

Chalk it up to one more way to learn and teach for educators and students in the COVID-19 era.

“It was a huge learning process for all of us,” Gifford said.

The performance ended up coming from a 14-person student choir, eight of whom were seniors.

Word of the performance made its way through local circles and has become a pretty good success. It had 1,198 views as of Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s my first video to go over a thousand, so that’s cool,” Gifford said. “There was a great response from the community.”

The performance will add a special touch to a not-so-normal graduation at the soccer stadium, but it also might be good practice for some “new normals” in education if in-person instruction continues to be limited in various capacities.

“We find out in July what the plan is for the fall,” Gifford said. “We’ve learned a lot, we’ve just got to get the kids up to snuff on recording themselves and sending videos to me. At least I can coach them.”

As for the “Maybe Someday” performance, it likely will stick with the seniors for some time.

“We’re singing it in a quarantine, which is a really poignant thing to say,” Gifford said.


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