KCC class shows off vocal prowess in free concert

PUHI — When you think of college courses, subjects like biology, chemistry and economics are the first to come to mind.

But at Kaua‘i Community College, 22 students broke the status quo as they enrolled in MUS 201, aka Vocal Ensemble, led by long-time instructor Greg Shepherd.

They make a close-knit group, which meets twice a week over the course of the spring semester to participate in rehearsals.

Not only are they developing their voices, but they are developing a spring concert that will be a blend contemporary and classic songs.

The ensemble will present “Songs of Spring” at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Lihu‘e Parish Hall.

“I’m not a singer,” said KCC student Nelson Batalion, who enrolled in Vocal Ensemble for the 2012 spring semester.

“Unless you consider the shower,” he joked.  

But Batalion’s classmate and fellow tenor, John Constantino, is quick to defend.

“Mr. Shepherd pushes you to work harder until you get to your goals,” Constantino said. “If you were to listen to us from the first day until today, there’s a significant difference.”

Both Batalion and Constantino said they would enroll in the course again, regardless of whether they get credit. That’s what Ely Garcia did.

“I couldn’t join the class because it was too late to sign up, so I asked if I could do the equipment transfers,” said Garcia, who will play the ‘ukulele during “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for the Saturday concert.

Soprano Arde Long-Yamashita has enrolled in Shepherd’s classes for three semesters and plans to “definitely” come back for a fourth.

“If it were not for Mr. Shepherd, we would not be good singers today,” said Long-Yamashita. “I believe music is a great way to of settling your stress and anxiety, and it relaxes you. I’m grateful to Mr. Shepherd.”

All the students agree that Shepherd is a major reason why the class is such a success. Students describe him as “patient,” “very welcoming” and “incredibly experienced.”

“I would suggest everyone  just try it,” said Bryson Toda, who has been enrolled in the class for two semesters. “You’ve got really nothing to lose, especially if you don’t know anything. You’ve got a chance to learn.”

Saturday’s “Songs of Spring” concert is free but donations are appreciated. Among the 16 selections, the concert will include “Together Wherever We Go,” “Oye,” a “West Side Story” medley, “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “The Music of the Night.”

Call 245-8269 for more information.

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