By Dawn Aerts
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–When Kara Barney is not raising a family, working as a vocal instructor at Southern Utah University or singing with the Red Rock Choir, she will share her time and talent with students in the afterschool choir program offered at Cedar North Elementary School.
Barney, who earned her bachelor’s degree in music and vocal performance at SUU in 2000 and Masters’ degree in vocal performance from Marshall University in West Virginia in 2004, finds inspiration in the success of students. “It’s important to expose children to a full range of musical art forms – to let them hear that world.”
Over the years, she has participated in community performance as well as with SUU’s Music Department. In 2017, Barney was one of several featured sopranos in the SUU’s inaugural faculty-performance of Abendmusik: An Adjunct Faculty Recital.
“Studies show us that students greatly benefit from experience in music – that can be piano, voice or orchestra,” said Barney, “It can begin with simple exposure to classical music, or music they have never listened to.”
As an instructor, she has seen students transition from a timid or shy demeanor to becoming an outgoing and confident performer. “I like to have students just listen to a composition of music, and then I’ll ask them to find the story line: I want them to step back and listen to the story.”
Both of her parents were talented as musicians and vocalists.
“My Dad sang in a professional choir, the ‘Glad Menagerie,’ in Salt Lake City, and my Mom had a beautiful voice as well,” said Barney of musical influence. “And I tended to follow my older sister; I did everything she did in choir and with music.”
She attributes her direction in music to high school choir teacher, Carol Ann Modesitt, and the talents of renowned international vocalist Audra MacDonald – who she said is an inspiration for seasoned vocalists and students of all ages. “I was the kid who would cry before I went on stage to perform,” said Barney of her experience, “But you can learn to become more confident.”
This fall, North Elementary School will invite 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students to join her for a Tuesday after school choir club in October. “I found that you have to really know your choir, to give them something they are familiar with and musical choices they don’t know,” said Barney, “so I’m excited to challenge them in music.”
According to Barney, each musical piece has its own individual character and flair. “My process of rehearsing includes really internalizing the complexities of a contemporary, or classical piece of music. I study the character, who she is, why she says the words she says, and above all, how does the voice and the accompaniment interplay.”
Choir students will be offered a mix of opportunities. “It’s so important to expose first-time listeners and singers to a full range of musical art forms,” said Barney, “To learn a few, let them explore and give them things they don’t know.”
Photo: Kara Barney will be the lead instructor for the afterschool Choir Club at North Elementary School in October. Class registration is open to 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students who have an interest in Drawing I, Painting II, Square Dance Club, Chess Club; Stage and Improv Club in once-a-week afterschool classes offered this fall. To register, visit the office, or call 435-586-2845. (No cost).