SEA BREEZE CHOIR ACTIVE IN THE COMMUNITY
May 09, 2002 11:00 pm
Jerry Moffit instructs Sea Breeze choir during morning rehearsal. ().
Jerry Moffit instructs Sea Breeze choir during morning rehearsal. ().

By SHELLEY NASH

The songs of Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Brian Adams and many others will come alive May 15 and 16 on the stage of the Performing Arts Center in Harbor.

The music is part of the Sea Breeze Revue, an annual event that raises funds for the Sea Breeze choir at Brookings-Harbor High School.

Sea Breeze is the high school's elite choir taught and conducted by Jerry Moffit.

Choir members are selected each year in the spring by audition. The students are required to sing scales and chord patterns, sight read music and sing a short solo.

Last year, "America the Beautiful," was the solo audition piece. It was chosen by Moffit, although he sometimes lets the students pick their own audition pieces.

"I can always tell the kids who are going to be good performers," Moffit said.

He has been teaching in the Brookings-Harbor School District for 12 years at both the middle and high schools and knows most of the students from seventh grade.

"I can tell who is Sea Breeze material and who is not," he said.

"Some of that can be taught, some of it can be trained, but some people are born with it," he added.

Moffit cited having "an ear" as a major component of making the choir. Having an ear means a person can hear pitches and sing them.

"Probably the biggest vocal reason why people don't make it (into Sea Breeze) is ear problems," Moffit said.

Sea Breeze is not a one-time shot. For the students who don't make the cut the first time, another chance awaits them the next year.

"I've had kids who've tried out two years (in a row) and made it the third year," Moffit said.

The choir is made up of sophomores, juniors and seniors.

"It's very rare that a freshman gets into Sea Breeze," Moffit said.

In the 12 years he has been conducting the choir, he said he believes only four freshmen have been members.

Once a student makes the cut, they do not have to audition again. Moffit said he does not audition current members of Sea Breeze because he needs their experience.

That is especially true this year because Moffit is losing 14 of the current 22 members to graduation.

"It happens. One year, you lose all your sopranos and the next year you lose all your tenors," he said.

Sea Breeze is not just an elective class. It requires the same commitment as a sports team or other school activity.

"It's more than just a class, it's a year-long team," Moffit said.

Like sports, Sea Breeze members must adhere to an activity contract. Choir members are required to keep their grades up among other things. Grades are sometimes a difficulty for students and not because they are stupid, Moffit said.

"I've lost kids this year because of (grades). I'd bet that 100 percent of failing grades we have at this school are because of laziness."

The members of the choir who don't have problems with grades sometimes have problems with time.

"I rarely have serious problems with these kids. The biggest problem is tardiness in the morning," Moffit said.

Because Sea Breeze is a zero period class, it meets at 7:19 a.m. before the regular school day begins.

Although it may be difficult for members of the choir to make it on time, the zero period slot does offer advantages. Moffit doesn't lose practice time to schedule conflicts with sports or other activities.

"I like (the time slot). I don't lose kids to athletic stuff or goofed up schedules for tests," Moffit said.

The success of the early morning practices are put to the test when Sea Breeze performs.

They generally participate in four concerts a year. Moffit also takes them to Eureka or Medford each year to sing Christmas carols in the mall and they perform the national anthem at four or five home sporting events.

Sea Breeze also performs for various community organizations. Sometimes the choir is unable to perform at groups because conflicts with work, sports or other commitments cause members not to be able to make the time and date of the performance. Other times, the group simply makes do with less members.

"Sometimes we have to perform short-handed," Moffit said.

The performances for community groups are free, but donations are accepted.

"We usually get a few hundred dollars a year on those (performances)," Moffit said.

Money has become a bigger issue in light of the recent school budget concerns. The school district used to cover the buses and registration fees for out-of-town concerts and competitions. Because of the budget crunch, the choir has been covering all its own costs in the last few months, Moffit said.

The choir holds two major fundraisers each year. Valentunes is a February event in which the group charges a fee to perform singing valentines. The girls learn three songs and the boys learn three. People who purchase the Valentunes have a choice of which song they want sung.

The group makes $800 to $1,000 with Valentunes, Moffit said.

The second fundraiser is the Sea Breeze Revue, which is the only concert for which the choir charges. This year, the Revue includes songs such as "Fly Me to the Moon," "Crazy," "Hit the Road Jack," and "Everything I Do, I Do It For You."

The students choose the songs.

"I'm always pretty pleased with the songs the kids pick out," Moffit said. "These kids have a sense of what they might sound good doing."

The entire choir will sing several songs and 11 or 12 members will sing solos.

The solo singers choose their music and Moffit accompanies them on piano. Occasionally, a student will choose a song Moffit doesn't know how to play. That student will bring in a compact disc of the song and Moffit will learn the accompaniment off the disc.

Some of the songs are also accompanied by student Peter Seamons on drums and Danny Greenwood on bass. Greenwood is also a member of the choir.

Moffit said the Revue is generally well received.

"Most of the feedback is that people enjoyed the show. Senior citizens enjoy the music because they know a lot of it," he said.

The Revue opens both nights (May 15 and 16) at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at Mory's, Words and Pictures, and the high school office. They can also be purchased at the box office door, but it is recommended they be purchased in advance because "Occasionally in the past, we've been full," Moffit said.