Kathy Blumer has taught music to students at every level, from the youngest elementary school students to music education students at the college level — yet Clovis High School’s new choir director said beginning this new school year felt different.
“My kids went to Clovis High, so it’s been kind of a special school to me. The schools that I worked at when I taught elementary school, they all fed into Clovis High. It’s like a family to me.”
Blumer has spent much of her career teaching at Clovis Unified’s elementary and intermediate schools, including Alta Sierra, Garfield Elementary, Riverview Elementary, Gettysburg Elementary and Clovis Elementary. Although she previously taught at the high school level in Napa, as well as at Roosevelt School of the Performing Arts in Fresno, this is her first high school assignment within Clovis Unified.
Because the school district’s music education programs begin in early elementary school, she said, by high school, “the level of music we can be doing ... is really exciting.”
Clovis High has 170 members in its five choirs, which include Enchante (a women’s choir, primarily consisting of freshmen), Bella Cantanti (intermediate women’s group), Concert Coir (co-ed, primarily juniors and seniors), Camber Singers (advanced choir) and Vocal Ensemble. A full-time accompanist, Sherah Moore, assists Blumer.
The choirs, she said, “try to cover all the different eras of music. We will do some Renaissance pieces, some Baroque, some masters from the Classical period and then Romantic.” They also perform modern pieces from the contemporary, folk and gospel genres.
“I haven’t taught high school in 14 years, I’ve been in elementary school — there’s a whole new literature of contemporary composers that I’m not familiar with ... I’m really excited to learn about the contemporary composers who have been writing for choral music,” Blumer said.
The Vocal Ensemble is a smaller, after-school group that has traditionally been a jazz choir, but Blumer, a musical theater fan, plans to change things up a bit this year: “I want to do some jazz, but I also want to do a cappella, pop and some Broadway.”
All choirs performed at the choral department’s fall concert — the first of many scheduled for this year — on Oct. 27. A winter concert is scheduled for Dec. 20. The groups will take part in festivals throughout the year as well.
“There’s a lot of talent here,” Blumer said. “I feel very lucky to be in this position. Of all the places I’ve taught, I’ve never been in high school situation that was this supported by the district, in terms of the music education process from elementary through to the high school. It’s something very unique to Clovis from where I’ve taught before.”