by Anna Ferraro
Adam Power, from Petersburg, IL, brings a heightened level of energy to his classrooms at Our Savior’s School. With a sense of humor that can feel like chronic comedy, Power spins his humor into quick and disciplined tone when needed, saying that his number one goal in a theater production is that his kids are “challenged,” but that they also “have a lot of fun along the way.”
With a diverse skill set, one could say that Power has “done it all” when it comes to music — piano lessons galore, dozens of theatrical productions, and even musical arranging for “The Voice” contest in New York. His skill set doesn’t stop there, though, with him recently becoming the athletic director at OSS.
Originally from Petersburg, Power grew up and went to school there. Taking an unconventional route through college, he began with working on a piano performance major at Eastern Illinois University (EIU). However, when the academic requirements changed for his major, he switched his focus to music education, and headed off to a university in Alabama to finish things up through accredited portfolios.
He cited a highlight of his musical career — the aforementioned “The Voice” contest, which took place back during his years at EIU. Teaming up with a friend who was doing the singing, Power was assigned to do the musical arranging, putting to use, “The music theory that you think you’re never going to use from college classes.” He ended up singing on it too, and not just for one round. With the ever-popular Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as their selection, they progressed through multiple rounds of the contest. In each round, Power rearranged their music, saying, “We would change it up, and get some different verses and sounds going, otherwise, the song can get pretty boring.”
In 2014, Power found himself as full-time staff at OSS. It happened through a fun sequence of events where Dave Shaffer called him in as an accompanist. Power accompanied music for an event, and hung around. The longer he hung around, the more he got asked to do. Power chuckled, “Next thing I knew, I was here all the time.” Initially working as the Assistant Athletic Director, and with school theater and vocal music, Power is now the Athletic Director and director of vocal music. He puts his other skills to work in the theater – as a director, on the stage, and in the pit, having worked in theaters for over ten summers.
A big focus for his work this year has been getting the Routt choir started up again, something Routt has not had in years. He shared, “We have a new guidance counselor [here] who is very arts supportive.” Initially, the choir roster contained around eight students – six girls, and two boys. After Power hosted a “bring your friend to choir day,” the numbers swelled to eighteen choir members. Power is succinct in his approach, “Right now, we’re focusing on increasing membership, and increasing our quality.” And quality is something he’s passionate about — “I’m one of those people, I set high, yet reachable goals. These are the years in vocal music where there’s a lot of change happening, especially for the boys in puberty — they have no idea what to do with their changing voices. It’s tough trying to get music they can sing well — even for when we’re going to contest….”
In discussing his approach to vocal works, he explained, “I’m a real big supporter of singing in foreign language, especially Latin. It sounds how the words look. That’s a nice and cheap way to make something sound real impressive. For our contest this year, we’re singing a Latin song, and a Gospel one that’s upbeat. It think it’s also important to have contrast with your pieces. One thing that has really helped me — we have choir three days a week, and for two of those days, we’re doing sectionals.” The concentrated time working on parts has done wonder for his small group. He’s also introduced singing tests for the students. He shared, “The tests won’t make or break the students’ grades, but they will push them to retain what they learn in choir.” Combining a stroke of humor with his standards for discipline, Power concluded, “Even if a song is challenging, I never let my students say that they don’t like it. Because, they’ve never done this before. Music is more of a challenge, and so they automatically might say, ‘I don’t like this.’ So, I have a rule in my classrooms, ‘you can’t say you don’t like it until you can play or sing it.’ Then I let them decide if they like it or not.
In addition to building up the Routt choir, he spends his time on his younger choral group at OSS, saying, “There, the choir is basically 6th graders. If they stick around, we’ll have a pretty impressive group a couple years from now.”
This spring, Power is directing his energies towards the OSS spring play, which is scheduled to be performed 20th and 21st at 7:30p.m. in the OSS gym. So save the date, and stay tuned for an article on that, folks! There are good things to come from the classrooms at OSS where teachers like Adam Power are at work!