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Singing brings a tingle at Gretchen Everhart winter concert

By: Amanda Karioth Thompson, COCA | December 20, 2017

When we think of a virtuoso, we generally envision a superb pianist or a master of the violin.

Rarely does the term conjure up coconuts, but Tyler Woods’ percussive proficiency, might make you reconsider. During Gretchen Everhart School’s annual winter concert, the 19-year-old student performed a whimsical rendition of “Jingle Bells” and the entire audience sang along. “I was doing the coconuts to make the sound of reindeer paws,” he explained.

Along with 10 other members of the school’s performing arts ensemble, Tyler rang in the season, offering holiday standards like “Deck the Halls” and “Winter Wonderland.” Tyler looks forward to this performance each year and he shared that learning about music “helps me open my voice out and that’s what I like to do.”

Gretchen Everhart School serves students with intellectual disabilities ages 3 to 22. That means the school’s music therapist, Brenda Rice, has the opportunity to watch the creative development of her students over an extended period of time. This year marks her 31st at Everhart and in that time, she has nurtured hundreds of emerging artists. In her role as the chorus director, Rice coordinates performances for her students regularly but the annual winter concert is a favorite largely because it’s a collaborative venture.

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