Here is the kids Christmas card to you, people of the world. This turned out amazingly well. I am very proud of the kids and the Racine community! There are special appearances by our principal and motivational speaker Jeff Eben, the Trololobot, the big guy himself and our mini-Chell in her cake dress.
This was a Racine community event. This win belongs to all of you. The audience was invited for the purpose of making this singing Christmas card. We especially appreciate Mrs. Bieri and the kids from the Gilmore M.S. Choir for joining us. Others included family members, students from other schools and local residents. The audience practiced for an hour with the kids while the band practiced in another room. Then we practiced coordinating everything for an hour. Then we ran three takes.
It is my great pleasure to work with 80 of the most terrific music ambassadors on the planet. They work very hard to entertain their families and you. Many kids came sick to the taping and some had to leave as they couldn’t keep their breakfast down. Someone wrote a comment on our Still Alive video that has stuck in my head. He said: “Imagine when these kids are in high school and their friends say “You were in THAT choir.” Being in choir is the coolest place to be!
Amazing parents at Gifford have supported my crazy ideas and allowed me to do strange texts and have their kids do unusual homework. Parents regularly check my communication blog to free me from having to get letters out. We couldn’t do this without them.
I chose Trololo for several reasons. We spend a lot of time working on vowels. Trololo is all that and then some. I thought the kids would sound great singing it.
I try to choose repertoire that will entertain our local audience as well as people from around the world. Trololo is a very entertaining song. I am looking for repertoire to entertain specific online communities. My ultimate goal would be to create entertainments for some of the communities I enjoy such as Reddit and the escapist. Lyrics anyone?
I have two incredible colleagues that bring amazing skills to our team. Katie McCormick is an extremely gifted choreographer, figure skater, pianist and choir teacher. I am your typical geeky guy with two left feet. I couldn’t begin to get the kids to do the things she can. She took the stereotypical moves of Eduard Khil and turned them into useable choreography.
The other is Angela-Janota Peavler. She is our strings teacher at Gifford. Angela has an eye for visual presentation and costuming. When we met to talk about Trololo I presented Angela with my desire to put the kids in masks. Eduard Khil performed Trololo with a plastic smile plastered on his face. The masks gave them that look. (With a little WTH mixed in). The parents picked out the masks for their kids. Angela took it a step farther and told me about her animatronic robot. She dressed him like Trololo Man and Trololobot was born. I also asked Angela to provide stage decorations to give the performance a holiday feel.
We had originally planned to use much more footage of the robot but that changed. I was driving up to my farm in central WI last August and was struck with an idea. I pulled off I94 and called Angela mid trip to pitch my idea to turn Trololo into a Christmas song. It is such a happy tune and filled with synonyms for Ho Ho Ho. I thought it was the perfect storm. In the end the Halloween nature of the robot might have worked for Tim Burton, but it took away from the Christmas feel. We brought Angela’s Still Alive Cake Dress back to tie into our video from last March.
Other members of the team included Jeni Balch who suggested this piece back in April instead of the Rick Roll. Ken Norman directed the pit band. Brett Halladay saved the day when the kids knocked the robot’s head off. He also made the iconic backdrop from the original Trololo video. My daughter Hallie has played bells for us on Radiohead’s No Surprises, Still Alive and now on this one. Other helpers included Chris Janus recording assitant, Mike Cobb played Drums, Brad Karas who has been playing bass for me since he was a student at Park High School where I used to teach, Eric Weiss on trumpet, Cathy Gabbey and Angela Peavler on Violin, and Russel Skewes on Baritone. Gary Alvarado of A.V.A. Media Solutions filmed the event.
When I tried to find the music for Trololo I was completely unsuccessful. I resorted to a message in a bottle and emailed a Russian man that had donated a few $$ to our choir after “Still Alive” (thank-you PayPal) Alexander Kutznetov found the score on a Russian music site and then translated the opening credits for me. What a great world the internet is.
My son Donovan helped me with the video clips on iMovie. The new version had me stumped.
The kids performed Trololo live at our all school concert Dec 11 for our audience of about 3,500 people along with a couple other holiday numbers. Katie McCormick’s Caiman Chorus brought the house down with three amazing performances, our 7 grade level choruses did an amazing job and we premiered the first performance of the Racine Community Choir which included community members, parents, friends and Gifford students.
The Gifford Choirs have partnered with the Racine Dairy Statesman, The Choral Arts Society of Southeast Wisconsin, and the UW Parkside Master Singers. These fabulous local choirs give us mutual support and help provide our families with opportunities to join and hear adult choirs.
Gifford School is the flagship elementary of the Racine Unified School District. Last year our 5th grade students scored at 97% competency in reading and math. Our new principal Jeff Eben was the deputy mayor of Fresno California and the director of the Fresno convention and Visitors bureau. With his leadership we will continue to grow and succeed. Our District recently stepped up by providing state of the art laptops for all teachers and gave us access to high speed internet. This project would have been impossible without the proper equipment and access. Racine has it’s share of urban difficulties but there are so many dedicated educators and staff that it is an excellent place to raise children. I have 5 kids at 4 different schools and they are all receiving an excellent education.
If you are still reading this far into this post I have to give you the pitch. We have a budget of $200 from our PTA. The more exposure we get the more expenses we get. Consider clicking on the donate button.
Gifford Children’s Choir Director