The Junior Choir

The parochial school I attended (Kindergarten through Grade Eight) furnished its church with two children's choirs, the Junior and the Senior. The Junior, taken from the second, third and fourth grades, sang mostly unison with occasional two-part harmony; the Senior choir sang in three- and four-part harmony, with occasional spots for soloists for its strongest singers. (I had the honor of singing solos.) Much of what we sang were treatments of Bach chorale tunes. The custom was for the organist to lead the children's and the Adult choirs. Although I have no memory of Becker's musicianship, I did have the advantage of singing, from the fifth grade on, under the direction of an accomplished organist (who played a lot of Bach and Handel and whose wife was a professionally-trained soprano). This man, Arnold Bathje (who also served as the school principal and teacher of the Eighth Grade who descended on our school when I was in the fifth grade), taught the Senior choir to follow hand movements indicating the do-re-mi etc notes of the diatonic scale, and thus had a hand in sharpening my ear. He chose me for the role of Gretel in the operetta, Hansel and Gretel, and for numerous solos (including Mary's Magnificat, which I sang behind a curtain for the pretty but tone-deaf blonde girl who was cast in the role of the Virgin Mary in the school's Christmas pageant).


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