High School Program Spotlight : Millbrook High School

Program Spotlights

CS Music is highlighting unique and impactful high schools, universities, summer programs, young artist programs, and other organizations that help singers. If you want us to highlight your program, email Mary Taylor at mary@csmusic.net.

Millbrook High School

Raleigh, NC

Choral Director: Eddie Adams
# of Students:
Subjects Taught: Choir

What would you say makes your program stand out or is considered unique?
It sounds cliche, but we are incredibly community focused. This includes cultivating a safe environment for all students. Our students are committed to performance excellence and the power of music to change and support lives. Students are encouraged to advocate for themselves, to lead with grace and compassion, while also thinking beyond themselves; we ask the question, how can the ideals expressed in music be made more evident in our everyday lives.

About Millbrook High School

We have four choirs that aim to reach all skill and experience levels. We are performance-based and literacy-focused.

How do you get your students more involved in the program?

By doing our best to support everyone in the way that they best receive support. We are heavily involved in our state-sponsored activities, in our community, and do our part to actively support of school (i.e. singing at ceremonies and hosting events throughout the year such as singing valentines).

What are you most proud of about your program?

I am proud of how our students grow as humans. We are graduating students who define what a community can be. We learn to both advocate for ourselves while also staying community-minded. We seek to create an environment that will set all students up for success. I often hear from graduates about their experiences in college and beyond. I even performed at one of their weddings last year. I’m most proud of the supportive space we maintain; even through a pandemic. I believe our experience can creative meaningful and lasting impressions on the lives’ of our students.

Do you have any special traditions?

Quite a few actually. One is our annual senior song that’s the last song performed at our spring concert (The Road Home by Stephen Paulus). We have weekly affirmations is student-lead. Every week we lift up another student. We have a kudos box in one choir where students may anonymously nominate a peer. We typically have a choir “field day” in the fall for all of the choirs to meet and bond. We also set aside class time for students to share their successes and struggles. We’ve sought to more intensely support the mental health of students; especially through the pandemic.

Has your program participated in any competitions, performances, or special activities? If so, tell us about the experience, including accolades or awards.

We were going to be featured in “Music for All” with Henry Leck, but the trip was shut down the day before we left due to covid. This was an auditioned only festival that was education, not competition, based. We’ve performed at our state NCMEA Convention and ACDA Convention. The choir has been featured a few times on a local radio station in Raleigh, WRAL. They receive consistent superior ratings at our state Music Performance Adjudication.

I was excited about music for all. I think that experience would have broadened our sphere of awareness as far as what’s out there musically. We have a strong high school choral tradition here in Wake County, NC. I love our community of directors and they are incredibly devoted and capable at their endeavors.

If there was one thing you’d like to learn from other teachers across the country, what would it be?

What relevant changes need to occur as the needs of our students changes? How do we embrace technology safely and effectively?

Finally, if there was one thing you’d like to see accomplished within your program, what would it be?
We lost some ground during the pandemic. Therefore, I feel that our music reading isn’t where it could be. Honestly, a lot of that is one me. I strategically choose to dive into mental health support and maintaining some semblance of community during the isolation and fear. We could have kept up with literacy, but I feel that one’s mental and physical health is paramount. I would love to see us become more independent musicians.

Maybe even more important, we talk a lot about diversity, but I KNOW we could do so much more. I would love to see us reach more students who wouldn’t otherwise seek out choral music. At do we change stereotypes and develop an authentic outreach for others. Are there any traditions that exclude others. I’ve been teaching for 16 years, but I have more to learn than ever. Our singers deserve it.

Mary Taylor

Mary Denton Taylor is CS Music’s Online Magazine Editor. She loves helping thousands of singers find their potential at the CS Music conventions and vocal competitions. She is a former librarian who writes young adult and middle grade fiction when she isn’t working or being a wife and mom to her four music-loving kids.