BAXTER-Music does more than just soothe the soul. It brings people together-and at Forestview Middle School, it's bringing adult males and boys together for a musical bonding opportunity.
Forestview will host its "First Annual Man Concert" at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday in the school's cafetorium, which will include a new choir formed at the middle school in Baxter. The new choir, "Faculty, Father and Son Choir," consists of father and son, grandfather and son, a male mentor and boy student and so on. The concert will include sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade boys choirs, with special guests the Brainerd High School Bards choir. The girls choir concert will be Monday night.
"This has been something that has been on the back of my mind for a long time," Marcus Aulie, FMS seventh- through ninth-grade choir director, said. "I thought this would be so cool if we could figure out how to start this choir."
Aulie said other choir directors he knows have started this kind of boys' choir and have had success. And The "Faculty, Father and Son Choir," has been a success. Aulie said when he first sent out the emails to the parents about joining the choir, he thought, "If I can get 20-25 people it would be great."
Well, there are almost 80 males in the choir.
"I'm blown away by the amount of interest in this choir," Aulie said. "There are not many opportunities out there for something like this. This is something totally different for dads to do with their son, or grandpas or uncles or any male figure. ... It's so fun to watch the men sing together and to see dads hug their son when they leave and tell them to have a great day. It is so cool.
"I firmly believe if you want to bring people together have them join a choir."
"I have noticed that our middle-aged boys get to share many experiences with adult mentors," Lucy Swanson, the sixth- through eighth-grade choir director at Forestview, said about the Man Choir. "They play baseball together, deer hunt together and go for family bike rides. We are excited to provide these boys with the opportunity to make music with their dads, grandparents, teachers, and mentors. Music makes our lives whole and helps us connect."
There is a set of three generation singers in the choir. Forestview seventh-grader Drew Belton sings with his father Scott Belton and grandfather Don Belton.
"This is important for me to be here with my grandson," Don Belton said. "I like the idea of this choir. I don't mind singing."
Drew was "enthusiastic" for the "Faculty, Father and Son Choir."
"Drew likes to sing and we wanted to do this," Scott Belton said. "This is so neat. This is a nice time to bond with my son."
Scott Belton said he has sang in his church choir.
Kelly Lakin, who went to high school with Aulie in Crosby, was excited to join the choir with his sixth-grade son Elijah.
"I've been in choir forever," Kelly Lakin said. "I started singing when I was 4. This choir gives me an opportunity to make a memory with Elijah and for us to sing together is special. I hope this will motivate him to stay in choir.
"Music is something that has always placed me in a good mood and it takes away the stress."
Elijah said he was excited to join choir this school year and said it's fun to sing with his dad.
"I'm a good singer," Elijah said.
Mike Nelson joined the choir with his sixth-grade son Ryan. Nelson said he doesn't sing a note, but he has always encouraged his kids to try to do things in life that make them feel uncomfortable. Nelson said he is more of a sports guy and Ryan is not totally into sports, but goes out and plays. Now, Nelson said it's his turn and he wants to show his son that he also tries things he is uncomfortable with.
"I am a terrible singer," Nelson said. "The email that Mr. Aulie sent said you don't need any musical ability, so that's me."
"When I mentioned the email to Ryan his eyes lit up and he thought it would be cool," Nelson said. "I'm glad that Mr. Aulie is keeping the songs simple. He took in consideration that not all of us dads can sing."
Aulie also is excited that male staff have joined the choir to join the boys. Teachers in the choir include Chris Hanson, Layne Danielson, Brian Stark, Dan Bzdok, Greg Swenson, David Pritschet. The teachers said they support the concept of the choir and think it is a great idea.
"None of us have kids here, but all these kids are in our class," Danielson said.
Forestview Principal Jon Anderson also joined to support the choir.
"We want to continue this at Forestview," Anderson said. "This is a great idea and adds another bonding opportunity for our students and their parents, mentors."