Hartzell’s enthusiasm for choir inspires those around her (with video)

Iniya Nathan, Staff Writer

In the empty choir room at Coppell Middle School West, save for a few students, choir director Allison Hartzell teaches her classes to sing via Zoom.

She started singing when she was around 4. Hartzell’s first choir experience was in third grade for third grade honor choir at Armstrong Elementary. Enjoying the unity and harmony of a choir, she continued choir through college at the University of North Texas.

“I was inspired [to be a choir director] by my high school and middle school choir director,” Hartzell said. “I fell in love and found a passion for this. I went right into college, I was lucky I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I love what I do, and I want to do it until I die.”

Hartzell joined CMSW as choir director in 2008. When she joined, the CMSW choir program had around 70 students; that number has now increased to around 160. Her teaching has allowed her students to be successful at University Interscholastic League Solo and Ensemble, All-Region choir auditions and state festivals.

“[Hartzell] is really esteemed,” said Coppell High School sophomore Vrishti Jain, a former student of Hartzell. “Everyone knew to respect her. She always gave off the vibe [that] we’re here to work and we’re here to learn. That was really cool because of the improvement people had at the end. A lot of my classmates improve so much in quality and tone and in general. She gets a lot of credit for that. She was just so motivated to get started, she never once looked like she didn’t want to be there. She always made sure that the learning experience was fun.”

Hartzell is also the artistic director for the Coppell Community Chorale, which is volunteer-based, non-profit adult choir based in Coppell and the surrounding areas for adults who used to be in choir when they were younger and miss the experience or simply for adults who want to be part of a choir now.

“I love promoting the arts,” Hartzell said. “[Chorale] was a chance for me to work with adults and have me grow my craft.”

Coppell Middle School West artistic and choir director Allison Hartzell leads vocal warm ups with her class on Friday at CMSW. Hartzell has always loved to sing and became inspired by her high school choir director, which led her to work in music education. (Kyah Jones)

As artistic director, Hartzell makes sure everyone is on the same page, since not everyone who joins the choir is musically trained. She ensures all the members know sight-reading, the rhythm, their own part and others’ parts and teaches everything the members need to know to form a cohesive choir.

“She’s so much fun to work with,” Chorale board director Sara Albers said. “She is an enthusiastic director, to say the least. She’s very animated, as she teaches the choir. She’s also really a big fan of ‘chorale-ography,’ which is where she gets choir members to sing and dance at the same time. We generally don’t do a lot of singing and dancing as adults, but she gets us all into it, which is always really fun.”

Coppell Community Chorale performs four times a year, and after its February concert last year, it went virtual, all members recording their parts and putting it together. In November, Mixtape Volume 1 was released, and in December, it performed “Believe”, its holiday concert. Its virtual concerts were received well, and its next concert will be in person at the Coppell Arts Center on Feb. 27.

“We have found that during the pandemic, the arts have been keeping people sane,” Hartzell said. “It was bringing people together through the community and an outlet for stress. That’s what we’re doing.”

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