The On a Positive Note Chorus and the Xavier High School Chorale
Several years ago, Emily Albrecht, a music education major at St. Olaf College, proposed an exciting idea to her mother, Kathleen. For one of her course requirements, she would design a detailed curriculum for high school students to learn about aging, dementia, creativity, music, and creating dementia friendly communities. Emily knew the music teachers at Xavier High School, her alma mater, and invited the director of the Xavier Chorale and Concert Choir to participate in this project. Kathleen Albrecht, director of the On a Positive Note Chorus recruited Susan McFadden to co-teach the class which met for 10 weeks beginning in January, 2021.
The original plan called for in-person teaching culminating in a community concert with the high school chorale singing with the On a Positive Notes. The pandemic derailed those plans. Instead, Kathleen and Susan taught via Zoom to the students who attended school masked, distanced, but in person. Both the chorus and the chorale practiced the song “When Memory Fades” but they could not sing together because of pandemic restrictions.
Students were able to interview some of the chorus members via Zoom. They are using what they learned from the interviews and the class sessions to develop final creative projects to be displayed at Xavier High School. The On a Positive Notes performed “When Memory Fades” with some members of the chorus masked and distanced at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Neenah while other members participated via Zoom. The high school students performed on the stage at their school and Emily Albrecht used her tech skills to create a seamless rendition of the song with all three groups singing.
Kathleen and Susan gratefully thank Emily for her creativity and persistence, Anna Van Eperen (music teacher at Xavier High School), Grace Majewski (student teacher from St. Norbert College), all the chorale members at Xavier, and of course, the courageous, enthusiastic, and talented members of the On a Positive Note chorus.