Mr. Jacob Cook (Vocal) stood up in front of the classroom with his arms crossed and his lips pursed while he explained the next note. The class started singing, but after a couple of minutes he held up his hand, stopping them in the middle of the song. “We can have a little fun with this, you guys,” Mr. Cook said. He said that they were being too technical, and they should play with the song a bit, without straining their voices.
Mr. Cook came from Mason City schools in Mason, Ohio. He taught there for 2 years, after working at a K-8 school in Northern Kentucky. His love for choir had developed over time. He had not always wanted to be a vocal teacher, and he only started singing because his friend said it would be fun during his senior year. His high school choir teacher helped him receive a scholarship for singing, and his undergraduate choir teacher influenced him to enjoy and love choral music.
Now, at Manual, Mr. Cook teaches four choir classes and two vocal development classes. The vocal development classes are fundamentals of voice usage and musicianship skills like reading music and music history. He’s been doing this for several years, and coming to Manual made him think about his career from a different perspective. “I came here in a different realm that most teachers here,” Mr. Cook said. “I was extremely excited when I found out I would be working at Manual because I had an opportunity to work with [Manual] students before.” Mr. Cook said he knew from the first day that he walked into the classsroom that Manual would be a great place to work.
His class is unique compared to most choir classes. Traditional choir is more formal and technical, but he wants his students to let the notes flow together.”The nature of choir is that it is most entirely direct instruction, but within that structure I hope to equip students with the skills necessary for being great individuals,” Mr. Cook said. He said that if his students are equipped with a great deal of skill, the direct instruction from him becomes all about creating true art, not just learning music. He wants his students to be more than the ordinary.
Back in the classroom, Mr. Cook told his class that they were being too technical, and they should play with the song a bit, without straining their voices. “Lets try this again,” Mr. Cook said. The students relaxed their vocal cord and proceeded to sing with more emphasis. “That’s exactly what I wanted to hear,” Mr. Cook said.