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South Jordan Journal

It wasn’t Jazz, but for the Jazz fans, it was sweet music to their ears

Nov 18, 2019 04:05PM ● By Julie Slama

South Jordan Elementary’s fourth- through sixth-grade choir sang the national anthem, directed by teacher Scott Knight, at a preseason NBA game of the Utah Jazz taking on visiting Portland Trailblazers. (Screenshot courtesy Scott Knight)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

The arena full of Utah Jazz and Portland Trailblazer fans grew quiet as two spotlights focused on 90 students dressed in solid red, white and blue shirts. 

Amongst the students was sixth-grader and two year choir member, Eme Jones.

“I wasn’t that nervous,” she said. “We have sung for the (Salt Lake City NBA G league) Stars before.”

Even when the announcer said the national anthem would be sung by South Jordan Elementary’s choir, Eme’s classmate and fellow choir member, Ava Hall, said it wasn’t nerve-wracking to be standing in front of all those people, but it actually was exciting.

“I really enjoy singing and performing is really fun,” she said.

The school’s fourth- through sixth-grade choir opened the preseason NBA game with the national anthem, under the direction of third-grade teacher Scott Knight.

“It was so awesome,” he said. “When the announcer said the national anthem would be sung by our school, the whole crowd went wild.”

About 250 to 300 of those in attendance were family and friends of the choir members, some who had taken them to school before the bell rang on Wednesday mornings to practice or picked them up afterschool on Fridays to get in a second rehearsal.

“We have been given the opportunity to sing the national anthem at three assemblies before performing it at the Vivint Smart Home Arena, but this was the best they’ve done,” Knight said. “It was so cool to feel the positive energy. I was so proud of them.” 

The choir’s evening began earlier than the 7 p.m. tip-off, with a 4 p.m. sound check. The choir didn’t perform on the Jazz court since they had so many choir members, Knight said.

“Everyone auditioned for the choir this year because we knew we’d be singing for the Jazz,” Ava said about the 100-member choir, 10 of which weren’t able to sing that night. “It’s exciting to be singing in such a large group.”

Knight said typically the choir has about 75 members who audition. He also said that everyone makes it into the choir and he just holds auditions so students can gain the experience. With the Jazz performance, sixth-grade teacher Bonnie Crockett stepped up to help co-direct the number of students in the choir.

After the sound check, students were invited to watch the Jazz warm up in the first few rows.

“Some of the choir members got signatures,” Ava said, adding that others had players say hi to them.

“It’s a great opportunity to be that close up and watch the players,” Eme said. 

Knight said the choir also ate dinner as the parents coordinated a dinner for 90 members that night.

Even at showtime, the choir members kept their cool, focusing their attention on their singing.

“My parents saw me on the Jumbotron, but I was focused on Mr. Knight,” Ava said.

Their excitement didn’t die down after the national anthem, or even while cheering on the Jazz, who got edged out by the Blazers for the win. Instead, the choir members focused on their three performances of their Halloween-themed “Zombie Reunion” black light concert. 

Even now, many of the choir members are focused on their Christmas concert and their performances at the capitol rotunda. They usually perform either at Festival of Trees or the Dickens Festival as well. Renee Jackson will be the assistant director to Knight.

Knight also said many of the student choir members also will be involved in their musical rehearsals. South Jordan Elementary will put on “Mary Poppins” April 16-18 and again, April 20, 2020.

“We’ll be performing in the spring at the Stars game March 27 (against Stockton Kings),” he said, adding that the choir also will hold its showtune concert at the end of the school year. “I’ve received so many emails from parents, thanking me for this once in a lifetime experience of singing at the Jazz game. The kids, the parents - they’re so grateful. For me, nothing is better than helping kids discover their talents and helping them develop them.”