Music Doing Good in Service was created last September to provide piano accompaniment for soloists, ensembles, choirs, and musical theater students. As a former educator, Program Director Phillip Hall saw the growing need in the community. As budget cuts continue to plague school districts, hiring part-time accompanists is just cost-prohibitive. Without proper rehearsal time or staff, students are unable to properly prepare for performances and competitions.
One of the main student competitions is University Interscholastic League (UIL), which is a set of prescribed pieces that students sing or play. They have different levels of difficulty; 1 being most difficult and 3 being the least challenging. Many of the students Phillip accompanies perform level 1 pieces. Out of 63 students he accompanied for UIL competition, 33 received a 1 rating. An astounding 19 of 25 students from Carver High School received the top grade compared with only six students who competed last year!
“For years, I did accompaniment for districts around the city. Sometimes the students would be crushed because they did so poorly, simply because they didn’t have enough time for rehearsals with the accompanist. When they got to the actual competition they fell apart because I would only see them once or twice. I often thought that if they’d had more time with me, they would have scored better,” recalls, Phillip Hall. This was the impetus for starting the outreach program.
In addition to working with the students one on one and in small groups, he records the accompaniment for the students so that they can practice on their own time, as well. His approach to musical mentoring offers students the ability to express themselves, gain confidence and enhance their talent.
“To be altruistic with music is something I’ve always wanted to do. I wanted to merge the two. There is just a huge need. A lot of choral teachers don’t play the piano. They are great singers, but often they are not great pianists. While they can teach a child how to sing, they’re missing the whole package without the piano accompaniment,” states Mr. Hall.
Currently, Music Doing Good in Service is offered at Northside High School, Energize for STEM and Sharpstown High School in HISD. Phillip is also working with Carver High School in Aldine ISD and the Presbyterian School. He hopes to expand this program to accommodate more music students.
Phillip is looking forward to the final leg of the group UIL competition this month and will be accompanying the choirs in the staged concert category. Choirs will be judged based on pieces they’ve prepared as well as sight-reading. If the choirs earn 1’s in both stage performance and sight-reading, they are deemed “sweepstakes” winners!
If you have students in need of piano accompaniment, please contact Phillip Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org.