Melissa Woolverton, pianist/accompanist for the Newport County Youth Chorus, started playing piano at the age of three. She proceeded to sing in church and school choirs, even as a young girl. Later, she added professional and university theatre shows to her singing repertoire. Today, she’s supporting children’s music in Rhode Island through her involvement in more chorus groups than you can count on one hand—all for the love of music.
Like everyone working with the NCYC, Melissa hopes to give the children of Newport the gift of music, and hopes that it can have as positive an impact on them, as it did her.
NCYC: Supporting children’s music
In the year since its September 2017 inception, the Newport County Youth Chorus has provided youth an opportunity to experience singing in different musical styles, and a chance to express themselves in a judgement-free zone. From churches to schools to nursing homes, the community itself has responded in kind.
Melissa’s role in the NCYC may not be flashy, but it’s an essential part of the children’s choirs. Her vibrant accompaniments have the children dancing and swaying as they sing. She plays seamlessly alongside Elizabeth’s direction, and is as aware of what’s happening with the children as she is of the music she’s reading. Her job is to support the learning through keyboard accompaniment.
Music from all directions
Music has been a constant in Melissa’s life. At fifteen years old, she made the All-State Choir. Later she traveled to South Dakota to study piano, theatre and voice at Northern State University, eventually joining the University’s jazz ensemble.
Melissa never stops, it seems. She is currently working with multiple different choirs in the Rhode Island area. She is a full time pianist for the choir at Salve Regina University, the Greater Tiverton Community Chorus, the Chorus of Westerly, and the United Congregational Church in Middletown. In addition to working with the Newport County Youth Chorus, she also accompanies the High School Choruses of Middletown, and Mount Hope in Bristol, RI.
Although playing for this many organizations may seem like a lot to handle, Melissa doesn’t mind. She absolutely loves choral music. Playing for so many different groups offers her the opportunity to play a lot of different styles and levels. She reads well by sight alone, and because of this rarely needs to take time to practice.
“For me, reading music is as easy as reading a book,” Melissa said. “I come to rehearsal and play and then go to another one.”
Like many musicians, playing music is the easy part. It’s everything else that comes along with it that can be difficult. In fact, one of the problems Melissa faces may not be what you expect.
“The main challenge would honestly be keeping all of my binders of music straight,” she says. “Also, organizing my schedule is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together!”
Behind the music
Music is the backbone of Melissa’s life. With all she does, it’s easy to say that she eats, breathes and sleeps music.
“I love the way music makes me and others feel,” Melissa said. “Music is so powerful. It can change your mood and help you heal.”
She finds jazz standards particularly fun to play. This is part of the reason why she dubbed “It’s Only a Paper Moon” her go-to NCYC song. She said it’s even more fun to play because her students enjoy singing it so much. Her favorite color is royal blue, and if there’s one thing she enjoys when it comes to music, it’s when people tell her that her music moved them to tears.
If that isn’t passion, we don’t know what is.
Melissa’s role at NCYC is accompanist to the students. She plays keyboard at all rehearsals and performances. To see her and Elizabeth working together to coordinate and teach their students is to watch two women in sync and comfortable not only with the music, but their students. If there’s one thing that Melissa can say she learned through her time at NCYC, it’s that children learn music very quickly and easily, and retain it very well.
Since its inception in September 2017, Newport County Youth Chorus has become an important extracurricular of students across Newport County. Participants range in age from second to sixth grade. You don’t need any experience to join—just a passion for singing. Students will learn to sing music in different languages and styles and even learn how to read music and understand musical terms and notation. Come join us this year in this fun and engaging experience!
Our team of veterans, including Melissa, will make sure your child has a memorable choir experience, with lifelong memories to boot.
To learn more about us, visit our website.