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Four Beach Middle School choir students to sing in Grand Rapids

Photo by Crystal Hayduk. Beach Middle School students will perform with the Honors Choir in Grand Rapids to open the 15th annual Michigan Music Conference. (Left to right): Marina Hinz-Johnson, Annabelle Greenleaf, and Elizabeth Clippert. Not shown: Lily VanHevel

By Crystal Hayduk

Four Beach Middle School (BMS) choir students will raise their voices in song as members of the Honors Choir at the 15th annual Michigan Music Conference (MMC) on Jan. 16 at the DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids.

Eighth-grade alto Elizabeth Clippert, and sopranos Marina Hinz-Johnson and Lily VanHevel, along with seventh-grade soprano Annabelle Greenleaf, will join a select group of vocalists, considered to be the best in the state.

The students engaged in a challenging audition process in hopes of earning a coveted spot in the 6-7-8 SA (soprano/alto) Honors Choir.

“In the past, students auditioned in pairs, singing a duet,” said Andrea Miller, the middle school’s vocal music teacher. “But this year, they auditioned solo for the first time.”

All students memorized a song by Mozart, performing it a cappella. Miller facilitated the recording and submission of the sound tracks (which are judged anonymously) before the mid-October deadline.

Greenleaf said the audition was difficult. “The hardest part was staying calm. I was so nervous I was shaking, but you can’t sing well when you’re shaking,” she said.

Greenleaf credits her parents for teaching her techniques of controlled breathing and positive self-talk that she used to manage her anxiety and complete a successful audition.      

The hard work isn’t over for students once they are selected. Hinz-Johnson, who is in her second year in Honors Choir, said they have a lot of new music to learn, along with a few lengthy weekend rehearsals, including one during winter break.

Clippert said she’s glad she decided to take a chance and audition. The four students are proud to represent Chelsea in Grand Rapids.

The Honors Choir is sponsored by the MSVMA (Michigan School Vocal Music Association). According to, about 9,000 teachers, administrators, students, speakers, and guests are expected to attend the MMC. Its purpose is “…to provide relevant professional development and vibrant musical experiences that support music education for educators and their students.”

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