People from different walks of life, ages and careers all join together in community. They are brought together by one passion – singing. Centralia College Community Choir offers the environment that joins members together. With an incredibly skilled director, Vicki Jardine-Tobin, their combined efforts drive singing abilities to incredible heights. With lots of practice, all different levels of musicians and singers, those with an understanding of music theory, and those that simply love to sing along, all join to deliver beautiful choruses in concert.
Centralia College offered choir for students and community members since its foundation in 1925. It’s seen different directors take the choir to marvelous places, including Dr. Donna Huffman who led the music program to excel for 25 years. Dr. Huffman is noted by many as the crowning glory of the choir existence thus far. Having a director that understands how important music is to their choir participants, as well as the community, is important.
The impact of music is so readily tangible when you see the faces of excitement in the audience awaiting the opening of a Broadway or Christmas concert. The excitement of the choir members, who have invested hours of practice in class and at home, is felt electric in the atmosphere. They understand how important it is to deliver a high caliber performance.
Vicki Jardine-Tobin is the director taking the choir to its current state of excellence. The choir is thriving. Simply, yet brilliantly, she created more availability to community members who wish to attend by changing the rehearsal time from working hours to the early evening. This slight alteration generated substantial growth in attendance. According to the college website, since her time leading, it’s grown from a mere 12 participants to exceeding 50 members, combining both students and community members.
As Vicki teaches the choir, she hopes to see it alight and pique interest and awareness around the community. Bringing alive the realization that this group survives and continues to flourish. Showcasing that music is still alive is a vision that she casts to all participants in the choir and to the community. The importance of music not only brings choir members together but also people spanning across and beyond Lewis County.
Vicki started her career teaching music at 12. She was her church organist and lead their small choir. She started teaching piano at age 16. Surprisingly enough, her passion in high school for sports led her to college on an athletic scholarship. Playing basketball, volleyball and track, her interest in studying music came a year into college.
She was inevitably sucked into the addictive world of music. Her passion for music led her to find the love of her life, John. They met in their college choir. Married for 35 years, being supportive of each other in music endeavors is an integral part of their relationship.
Finding a careful balance in teaching those who lack experience and keeping skilled musicians challenged and not overwhelmed, is a trick for Vicki. Each quarter focuses on different themes. The variety of music covers the gambit, reaching into history with Latin texts, even to include pieces from Broadway and modern pop culture.
Each quarter gives members a different focus area to strengthen. “The last quarter was a stretch out of my musical comfort zone, but it was so good for my growth as a musician and singer,” says choir member Amy Larson. As rehearsals continued and she practiced at home, Amy found a way to thrive and succeed. Starting the quarter feeling overwhelmed and unsure whether she could continue, she ended with new confidence. She now realizes that she can sing musical pieces with a high level of difficulty, even ones from unfamiliar genres. Thanks to her time invested in the Centralia College Community Choir, she now has skills that will remain in her tool belt. As a music teacher from Onalaska, Amy imparts those skills and abilities to her students, emphasizing growth in confidence and perseverance.
As the director, Vicki believes that reaching out into the community and gaining support, brings forth the acknowledgment that there is a fantastic choir at Centralia College. Extra rehearsals are offered to choir members in preparation for providing an excellent performance. Getting to know people making music in the area is one of Vicki’s goals.
“Music brings a community together in a way that nothing else does,” says Vicki. “We are making this a group accepting, challenging, fun and full of camaraderie. And that is a valuable thing here and anywhere frankly.”