Human Interest


School Choir Triumphs Over Tragedy After Death of One of Its Members

May 15, 2009 08:00 AM
by Anita Gutierrez-Folch
After the tragic shooting of Warren-Prescott School student Soheil Turner, his grief-stricken classmates won the Massachusetts statewide singing contest, overcoming their sorrow through music. 

School Choir Succeeds in the Face of Tragedy

Earlier this week, Soheil Turner, an eighth grader at Warren-Prescott School in Charlestown, Mass., was shot while waiting for his morning bus. Although the community was struck by the tragedy, the boys and girls in the school choir provided an uplifting example of resiliency. True to the school’s motto of "Persist and Prevail," young children and teenagers alike overcame their grief and raised their voices in song at the Massachusetts statewide singing contest, awing judges and the audience with their powerful rendition of “What a Wonderful World.”

According to The Boston Globe, the Warren-Prescott School choir—the only elementary school group participating in the competition—earned the highest total score, defeated a large number of more experienced singing groups and walked away with the trophies for best elementary and middle school choirs. "It's phenomenal what they did, and it's something special about kids," principal Dominic Amara told the Globe. "If you had adults in this kind of trauma, I doubt they could perform as well."

The choir’s victory “brought needed emotional uplift” to the school, according to the Globe, and “vividly illustrated the resiliency required to be a student in many urban schools.” The students in the group turned their voices into a tribute, honoring their friend’s memory with their efforts. "Watching my friends lose someone was very upsetting," sixth grader Elizabeth Pardy told The Globe. "But then I thought, 'I'll sing for Soheil,' and that made me feel better."

Parents and educators also play an essential role when it comes to setting an example for dealing with tragedy and grief. Olivia Thomson, the students’ music teacher, reassured the children by telling them that “It's OK to be sad, but it's also OK to have fun.” As KidGlue explains, life goes on even in the face of tragedy, and the best way to honor the memory of someone who has died is to “to make something of our own lives as a tribute to what might have been, had the victim survived.”

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Related Topic: Music as a cure

Studies have shown that music can be used as a cure for many different ailments and diseases. An intensified form of music therapy for various conditions, including hypertension, could be approved in the United States as early as next year. The treatment, described as “musical pharmacology,” seeks to bring out the “active ingredients” in music and formulate them “into medicinal compounds.” Only original music is used, and patients are instructed to listen for half an hour, five days per week for four weeks. Timing is crucial; patients must listen to certain types of music at certain times of day.

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