Choir program leads to success

Dear Editor:

Hello! My name is Perry Ehrlich and I graduated from the Yorkton Regional High School (Class of 1970).  I now live in British Columbia, where I moved over 40 years ago to get married and to practice law.

I often have the opportunity to acknowledge my “Yorkton roots” and the wonderful education that I received at the YRHS.  In particular, I am forever grateful for the excellent music program at YRHS under the direction of Daphne Marshall and Dave Bray. It was in the choir room at YRHS that my self-esteem and self-confidence were nurtured. I have incredible memories of concerts, musicals, and trips to Enid, Oklahoma and elsewhere.

Therefore, I was horrified to learn that the choir program is now in the process of being abolished. Count me among the hundreds to express my outrage at this.

For your information, music has always been an important part of my life. Following my graduation from YRHS, I sung with Greystone Singers at the University of Saskatchewan. I was also the music director for LEGAL FOLLIES, a show produced by the College of Law that raised (and still raises) thousands of dollars for charity.

In 1994, I founded GOTTA SING! GOTTA DANCE!, a musical theatre summer program now in its 22nd year at the Jewish Community Centre of Great Vancouver. I also direct  ShowStoppers, a GLEE troupe that has appeared in concert with Barry Manilow and Foreigner and at events like Canada Day at Canada Place, at the Grey Cup,  and Honda Celebration of Light. In addition, I also compose music and work in the world of TV – previously with the late great ventriloquist Shari Lewis and most recently on WAYWARD PINES (a Fox TV show).

My love of music and personality were shaped by the choir program at YRHS. Not everyone is athletic and, in my case, the program provided a safe place for me to have fun and to learn. I use many of the lessons  (and even some of the music) learned at YRHS every day. Besides, being a teen-ager 40 years ago was not easy, and I can’t imagine how much more difficult it is now.  Students need music.

So how did this happen? Do people in Yorkton care? Has the administration at YRHS done everything in its power to save the program?  

At GOTTA SING! GOTTA DANCE!, I have a faculty of ten who specialize in singing, dancing, and acting. I know that those faculty members inspire all the kids who work with them.  

If this is just about numbers and times, I have only one thing to say to the administration: SHAME ON YOU!   Find a charismatic teacher, let the program grow, and watch your students thrive in the music program … as did I. Abolishing the music program, in my opinion, is just plain stupid. I am one of thousands who benefitted from it in the past. That is not just my opinion. Google the number of Nobel prize winners, esteemed politicians, and celebrities who credit their high school music programs for their success in life.  

Joni Mitchell (another prior Saskatchewan resident) wrote the great lyric “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone!”

Please don’t let it go.

Perry Ehrlich,
Richmond BC

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