Thursday, October 1, 2015

New Director Harmoniously Successful

Viper Chorus Director Not Missing a Beat

Mr. Michel Avey probably didn't know it when he interviewed for the position over the summer, but the charismatic new Choral Director and Junior Orchestra Director had big shoes to fill.

Shoes full of nearly two decades worth of notes, tempos, and tones.

At the end of the 2014-2015 school year, beloved Chorus/Orchestra Director, Mrs. Sharon Maslin, retired following 17 years of service to Viper families. Anyone who attended an orchestra or chorus concert directed by Mrs. Maslin knows just how passionate she was about helping her students explore their musical talents and reach their full creative potential.

As much as Mrs. Maslin's body of work is appreciated and her endearing personality is missed by her colleagues and students, Mr. Avey hasn't wasted any time putting his own signature on a successful music program.

In fact, Mr. Avey has already had a soprano-like impact on his students.

Case in point: Norman McCorvey, a senior.

Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School Choral Director and Junior Orchestra Director, Mr. Michel Avey,
and senior Viper student, Norman McCorvey, share a passion for music.

During a recent tryout for All State Chorus, Norman scored 47/50 on the Musicianship Written Test and 36/40 on the Sight Reading Measures. To put his performance into perspective, his scores not only enabled him to skip the following audition but he also automatically qualified for the highly selective All State Sight Reading Choir, where Norman will encounter even more challenging music and be required to perform it in a shorter period of time.

Last year, Norman placed so much pressure on himself to sound better that he chose not to participate in the All State Sight Reading Choir. Since then, with encouragement and direction from Mr. Avey and a ton of hard work at and away from school, Norman raised his bar of performance to levels only the elite of choir students are able to reach.

"The day after the audition, Mr. Avey said, 'Hey, you made the reading choir!'" said Norman. "It felt really good. A lot of my friends had done three auditions but not been invited back to perform.  I've done it 4 years and every time I had to do a third audition, which is a lot of extra stress. Being a senior makes it even harder because I want to do this so badly."

Norman started playing piano beginning at 8 years old, but he was born with a passion for music. "I always valued music. In church, we sing, and I've always enjoyed the music. Different genres of music allow you to express different types of feelings and emotions."

"Norman is a brilliant musician," said Mr. Avey. "He just sees a piece of music and understands how it works, which is the sign of a very talented musician."

Successes are singing like melodies among Mr. Avey's students.

Last weekend, 12 Viper students auditioned to be in the select group of singers chosen for the Florida All State Chorus, which represent the best singers in the state. Every student gave it their all at the audition, which consisted of a 50-question written test and an individual Sight Reading Assessment in front of a panel of judges. The following students passed the first round of auditions:

The only thing standing between these talented students and being selected to participate in the All State Choirs is one more Vocal Quality audition.

Mr. Avey knows his students would benefit from such an achievement. "I made All State Choir three times in high school," said Mr. Avey, who earned a Music Education degree from the University of South Florida. "It was one of the best experiences. That is what inspired me to be a music teacher."

Norman first made All State Chorus in the 8th grade, and has made it every year in high school. "In the lower grades, music might not be as important to kids. They might think it is an easy elective class. In All State, everyone is serious about music. It's a passion everyone shares."

"It's like reading a book you're passionate about," continued Norman. "It's hard to talk to somebody about a book they don't like, so you look for someone who values it as much as you do. A book club, for instance. For me, the book club would be like All State, because there are a lot of people there who love music like I do."

Regardless of the outcome of the next audition, everyone at Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School is extremely proud of the dedication of these students.

Seeing his students excel is a driving force behind Mr. Avey's efforts as a teacher. "My goal is making kids more passionate about music," he said. "Finding kids that are the most passionate and getting them to strive to be better." 

His predecessor's legacy is large, but no beats have been missed in the choral classroom. Early in his career, Mr. Avey has already proven his shoes fit just fine.

Stay tuned for periodic updates throughout the school year on the ongoing successes of our outstanding music department led by Mr. Avey and Ms. Christina Cuny, Band Director.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.

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