The Gift Of Music


They have to move their hands and stuff and they get tired, but the first-grade students studying music with Kathy Kaufman at Julia Randall Elementary School are creating something special.

Tonight (Tuesday) at 7 p.m., they'll be giving their parents, family and friends the gift of holiday music during JRE's Christmas Concert in the Payson High School auditorium.

"We'll have some Christmas lights," said Kaufman, "and it'll be magic. It needs to be a Christmas present for their parents."

"It's fun to do the hand movements and sing," said first-grader Christina Encinas.

Brianne Brasher is one of the students featured in "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth." Brianne lost her two front teeth a month ago and doesn't think she'll grow new ones by Christmas. But that's okay, she said. There are about a dozen other students with missing teeth who will be singing the humorous Christmas classic with Brianne.

More than 70 first-grade students from four classrooms at JRE will join the school's fourth- and fifth-grade choruses for the holiday special, one of three put on by the school district's elementary schools.

"These teachers at this campus have been so supportive," Kaufman said Monday. "They've been helpful and great. It's 'What can I do to help you?' as I change their schedules all over the place."

But all the hard work pays off when Kaufman's students tell her how much they enjoy music.

"I love to sing," said Hunter Gardner.

Kaufman has been a music teacher with the district for many years and started out at the high school.

"In 1991, when I came down from PHS, where I'd been for 13 years, it was quite different working with younger students.

"I've learned to teach with different learning styles. I'm a very visual person. If I can get the kids to see what they're singing, I think they enjoy it a lot more."

Kaufman said she works at getting the students to listen to each other and to blend their voices. She held up a light bulb to describe how she gets the students to open their mouths to sing, illustrating how the sound is fuller coming out of the top of the bulb, rather than the base.

"If you can't feel what you're singing, what's the point," she said. "The entertainment aspect of it is the thing."

Kaufman said she attended a high school performance a couple of weeks ago "and came away floating."

"The students on the stage made the audience feel great by their performance," she said.

And that's the feeling Kaufman and the JRE students will try to re-create when they perform tonight.

"It's just so neat to see the growth," she said. "The kids I had in elementary school and middle school -- there's just a pride there. We, as music teachers in the district are working together to see that the kids stay in the music program -- music for life."

Payson Elementary School will present its Christmas Concert at 7 p.m. Thursday in the high school auditorium. Frontier Elementary School's concert was Monday.

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