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Photo Credit: Wyatt Harris

Going over the music scale with her second period class, new choir teacher Sharon Acray settles into her new position.

New Choir Teacher Shares Her Background in Music

Crimson Crier- How many years have you taught?

Shana Acray- Um, in the school year this is only my third year. I went back and got my Bachelor’s degree in education a few years ago. Before that, I’ve worked with many different theatre groups and other things. I’ve been teaching music for a very long time.

CC- Why do you teach choir or why is music the space you want to teach in?

SA- Well besides always loving it, right. You kind of grow up having certain things you enjoy, but when I was in school, choir was really a place that I found my home. It felt like it was a family and it gave me activities to do and great people to be around. So, that’s how I got into it. So when I went back to school, I thought that it’s something I really loved and that’s something that I would like to give to other kids as well.

CC- What kind of experience do you have? Have you taught music before at different schools or maybe different programs?

SA- Not in school, but I have done a lot of music directing for Characters Entertainment. It’s a

theater group, I do all of the music directing for that. Before that, I was a performer basically. So I traveled in different groups all around the United States and in many several countries and that’s what I did. Then when I had kids, I stopped kind of doing that because you know, I can’t really go to France and say bye to the kids. So I stopped doing that and started directing for local theater companies.

CC- How was the transition from your last job to your current one now?

SA- It’s very different. I still live in Gadsden, I’m driving two hours to work each day and two hours home. I’m in the process of buying a house in Huntsville, but I was working at Gadsden City school. I worked at, gosh, five different elementary schools teaching general music. Then I also taught at the high school doing theater. I taught theater classes and also their musical theater. It was a lot, so transitioning to this, it’s really nice to be able to focus on one thing.

CC- What is your outlook for choir this year?

SA- My outlook this year, most of my kids did not sign up for choir, they were put here. So my outlook is that I really want them to find out that this is something that they truly can express themselves in. They can grow their confidence and that they will find themselves in a place where they can be themselves and really learn how to express themselves without fear of any sort of repercussions. So yes, I want them to love the music that we’re doing and want them to get a chance to reform, but even more than that, I really want them to be comfortable in themselves and being able to express that without hindrances.

CC- What are your feelings about the competition piece, Seussical the Musical? Are you excited or nervous?

SA- Oh yeah, the kids are going to be great, they really do a great job. Uh, we actually had rehearsals all weekend and last week, but I was not here last weekend because of my kids and things. But, they did a great job. They’re working hard and they’re working towards the competition as well. So, they’re going to win. That’s what I’m saying.

CC- Do you have any plans for any future performances or anything that the choir might be doing in the future?

SA- Yes. Uh, this semester, besides I will offer for individual kids who really do enjoy music and maybe they’re not quite as a beginner, there’s something called Allstate that they can go to. It’s like a competition and they can kind of get evaluated. Then in October, there will be the Madison County Honor Choir, so if they would like to participate in that, they can. It’s all of the choirs of Madison County getting together for a day and we’ll learn music that day and have a concert that night. And then for this class their, shall we say final exam, is our Christmas concert for this semester.

CC- What would be your advice to people that can be a little shy that want to be amazing performers or singers, but just don’t have that spotlight type of personality?

SA- Sure. There’s nothing wrong with that. Being in Choir doesn’t mean you have to sing a solo, right? It means that you’re surrounded by all your other fellow Altos or your fellow Sopranos. So you’re a group, you’re not out there by yourself. You’re being supported by a bunch of people around you, so you don’t have to be the one that’s just in the spotlight. As we go, I do hope they become more confident in all those areas, but Choir is a special thing. Just like theater or band or like anything that puts you in a spot where you are surrounded by other people who are also doing the same thing as you. It helps you grow in confidence because you’re not as worried about singing by yourself, it’s everyone with you. And so you work as a team.

CC- Are there any interesting or wild facts about you that you would want anyone to know?

SA- Oh gosh, wild facts. I don’t know. I mean, I used to travel and sing backup for different artists. I’ve done a lot of studio recording. I also still perform in musical theater and stuff like that. I love to perform.

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