Sarah Kohl sings with choir students


Lance Ozier

In the spotlight-- Professional singer Sarah Kohl performing Otello (Italian Othello) by Rossini in Albuquerque, NM with Opera Southwest. Kohl has participated in other operas, orchestras, and performances along with teaching master classes to high school students.

Bella Podgorski, Photography Editor

Chorus students are constantly seeking new opportunities to sing in addition to their developed program, so selected students jumped at the opportunity to work with professional choral singer Sarah Kohl. They learned new techniques and a different outlook on choral practices.

Having a background in orchestras and opera, the Music Department was happy to have a visit from Kohl as this master class benefitted not only the few individual students she got to work with but helped the other students in the class as they were selected in a particular way that would also help the rest of the class.

“From Sarah Kohl’s visit to my chorus class I learned the importance of keeping my head level when I sing, because looking up strains my neck and hurts the sound. Also she mentioned that everyone has their own dynamics. She taught me all of this without listening to me sing at all,” sophomore Rachel Powell said.

Music Department Chair Leslie Imse, as well as all chorus students, learned a great amount from this experience. Whether working one on one with Sarah or receiving group feedback, the new experience was informative.

With a previous career as violinist, Kohl’s passion for music and expertise in vocal instruction created an atmosphere for students to learn in a different way. During the master class, Kohl was eager to teach the chorus students and hoped each of them took something away from the experience.

“In masterclasses I don’t focus on one particular issue. Each student is different. I try to find one or two things that I think I can work on in a short period of time. In that time, I want the student to hear and feel improvements and encourage them to keep working on the path we discover together,” Kohl said.

This visit taught both teachers and students different ways to approach vocal abilities and skills.

“I learned some new techniques from this experience and some things I have now are remarkably well prepared. You won’t thought about. I’ve been teaching voice for 35 years, and sometimes it’s good to have somebody else’s perspective and think about things in a new way,” Imse said.

Students such as junior Halley Dopp had a one-on-one experience with Kohl and got to take part of this new perspective firsthand.

“I gained a lot of knowledge from Kohl in a 42 minute time period. Kohl touched on having expression and confidence commands one’s presence during a performance. Taking deep breaths also let the performer have a deeper, fuller sound,” Dopp said.

After learning these new techniques, the chorus students are now aware of a variety of different  vocal tips and were appreciative of Kohl’s master class and advice. Kohl’s experience was also valued as she enjoyed coming to teach the students and also took away positive things from this experience.

“I love coming to FHS to teach. The students are remarkably well prepared. You have wonderful teachers and it’s clear that the basics have been covered. I just want to bring a few things that students may not have heard before. I find that the students at FHS are receptive and respectful,” Kohl said.

She also mentioned how the students were brave because it takes a lot of courage to sing in front of the chorus class and people in general. Kohl hopes that the musical experiences that the students may have enhance their lives. She believes music can be healing, exciting, calming, and can change the way one looks at the world.

Kohl bringing a new perspective was beneficial to the choral department and was a unique experience to the many people involved.

“Working with experts in the field of music is very important for my teachers and I because we want students to look outside the school walls and see how they can take their talents beyond the school,” Imse said.