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Winter Coffeehouse returns in December

Senior+Ben+Valerius+rehearses+in+preparation+for+his+Coffeehouse+audition.+He+plans+on+auditioning+with+%22The+Girl+from+Ipanema%22+by+Joao+Gilberto+and+Stan+Getz.
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Winter Coffeehouse returns in December

Senior Ben Valerius rehearses in preparation for his Coffeehouse audition. He plans on auditioning with

Senior Ben Valerius rehearses in preparation for his Coffeehouse audition. He plans on auditioning with "The Girl from Ipanema" by Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz.

Photo by Elsa Persson

Senior Ben Valerius rehearses in preparation for his Coffeehouse audition. He plans on auditioning with "The Girl from Ipanema" by Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz.

Photo by Elsa Persson

Photo by Elsa Persson

Senior Ben Valerius rehearses in preparation for his Coffeehouse audition. He plans on auditioning with "The Girl from Ipanema" by Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz.

Elsa Persson, Online Editor

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A classic tradition returns to the stage this year with the annual National Honor Society (NHS) Coffeehouse concert. Student musicians look forward to this opportunity to showcase their talent, while anticipating audience members await the laid-back environment of this popular event.

A favorite among the student body, Coffeehouse is an acoustic charity concert that takes place in the winter and the spring, which features students of all grades performing solo songs, duets, dances and even original pieces. The winter show, which is generally the more popular one, often features a few holiday-themed numbers.

Coffeehouse is entirely acoustic. Performers often play guitars, ukuleles, pianos, string instruments and more, commonly alongside vocals. It is known to be a more down-to-earth, personal show, as compared to other extracurricular concerts like Battle of the Bands and Pops.

I think it’s important because anybody can do it. You don’t have to be in a music [class] to do it. You don’t necessarily have to be one of the top music students at this school… anyone, if they put their mind to it, can pick up a ukulele, or learn a couple chords on the piano, and perform any song they like. I think that’s what makes coffeehouse unique, because it’s not confined to just the music students. In my opinion, everybody is a music student. I think anyone can perform, everybody has potential to be a good musician.”

— Mya Lysne

“Coffeehouse seems a lot more about the excellent musicianship involved, as compared to Battle of the Bands, where it’s also about the flashy nature of rock and roll,” sophomore Isaac Reiner said.

Coffeehouse has grown immensely since its beginning. When NHS advisors first established the concert, it was just a fundraising event in a small space with high-top tables. It has been a biannual tradition since. Though it has expanded, it has preserved the same chill nature throughout.

The Coffeehouse concert started as “just a small French coffeehouse, like a cafe,” NHS advisor Becky Mazzara said.

Music performed at Coffeehouse usually falls into its own category. The pieces selected are generally more relaxed. Indie songs, easygoing pop songs, and ballads have been popular choices in past years.

“I wouldn’t necessarily go in with a rock kind of piece. You kind of just look for songs that are more laid back and instrumental,” sophomore Hannah Doyle said.

A key element of Coffeehouse is the fundraising aspect. Proceeds from Coffeehouse go to charities and organizations. They can be either local or global. In previous years, the concert raised money for BIZAA, Valley Outreach, and much more.

“Each year, the members of NHS work together to select a charity to donate the Coffeehouse proceeds to,” Mazzara said.

Student musicians are drawn to the performance opportunity the Coffeehouse brings. Though many students learn and prepare a song to bring to the stage, some go the extra mile and perform songs of their own. Senior Mya Lysne is a student songwriter and debuted one of her original pieces at the 2018 Spring Coffeehouse.

Photo by Emma Urban
Lysne rehearses on her guitar for the Coffeehouse concert. So far, she has performed in every winter and spring concert she could audition for in her high school career.

When performing an original piece instead of a cover, “It does have an extra layer of personal feeling to it,” Lysne said.

Performers are selected by audition. Auditions are open to any and all students, and even teachers. A team of NHS members run auditions and choose performers from a variety of different factors, including type of song, talent, and commitment.

Though intimidating at first, the audition becomes more comfortable as it goes on, Doyle said.

A unique feature of Coffeehouse is emceeing. A couple students use jokes and short skits to introduce each song. Usually, they play off the title of the song in the introductions.

“It’s pretty corny, but it’s funny, and it’s fun. They get the audience involved,” senior Ben Brynestad said.

Coffeehouse is a perfect performance opportunity because it’s available to anyone. Auditions are open to students of all grades, even teachers, with no requirements regarding experience or curricular music course placement.

“I think it’s important because anybody can do it. You don’t have to be in a music [class] to do it. You don’t necessarily have to be one of the top music students at this school… anyone, if they put their mind to it, can pick up a ukulele, or learn a couple chords on the piano, and perform any song they like. I think that’s what makes coffeehouse unique, because it’s not confined to just the music students. In my opinion, everybody is a music student. I think anyone can perform, everybody has potential to be a good musician,” Lysne said.

Student musicians and patrons of the arts alike look forward to the Coffeehouse concert. It is the perfect gig for performers, an exciting show for supporters, and a special way to raise money to causes that matter. “However you’re in that room on that evening, it will be a fun time,” Lysne said.

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About the Writer
Elsa Persson, Online Editor

Hi! My name is Elsa Persson. I am a junior and an Online Editor for the Pony Express. I am involved with theatre, orchestra, and choir. I love performing...

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