Chorus teacher helps students’ harmony

“The first time is a mistake, the second, sure, you forgot, and the third time is foolishness,” Anna DeMichele, teacher of the community choir class at Cerritos College, said about the mistakes her were making during rehearsal.


She began her teaching career at Cal State Long Beach, then taught for a couple of years in the Huntington Beach City School District.

After a few years of teaching high school, DeMichele realized that she wanted to do something else.


“I loved teaching high school until I realized the repertoire was always kind of limiting,” DeMichele explained.


This realization led her to get her master’s degree to teach at the college level. Soon after she got her master’s at Claremont Graduate University, DeMichele completed her doctorate in conducting.


“I try to teach the basic techniques of healthy singing,” DeMichele said, which consist of “good breathing and support, (a) good released jaw for maximum sound and proper body alignment.”


She added, “Many students are told at a very young age that they’re tone deaf. That is a very big pet peeve of mine that a student is told that because I don’t believe there is such a thing.”

DeMichele feels very passionately about this issue and she will make it very clear that if you can talk, you can sing. That is, if you’re willing to try.

She feels so strongly about the capabilities of people wanting to learn to sing, she mentioned, “one in a million people are actually tone def.”


Tenor and English major Abner Caguioa is in the community choir and noted that, “It’s really fun and, at the same time, it’s really scholarly because it’s really about the theory of music and appreciating the music all in one.”


In choir there are many different parts to a piece of music. Bass, tenor, alto and, the highest of them all, soprano.


Caguloa talked a little bit about his love for different music.

“I like lots of music, orchestral music, soundtracks from movies and on my leisure, when I drive, I’ll listen to jazz. I really like acoustic music(and) I love listening to specific instruments and isolating them.”


Singing major and vocal performer for opera Zineb Fikri said, “I really enjoy Dr. DeMichele’s choir because this choir was the first time I actually ever saw SATB (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) music.”


Fikri has been singing since she was a little kid. Around 2005, she began to train her voice exclusively. As a college student, Fikri has taken community choir at Cerritos College nine times.


The reason the class is titled community choir is because anyone can join the class with any skill level. The range of student singers goes from the most eminent singers to the most average shower singers.

If a student’s voice just doesn’t get the hang of keeping tone, there is an elementary class such as Voice I, which is an alternative.


“The way she presents things to you is very calming and reassuring. Dr. DeMichele let’s you know if you might not be able to do this now or today. You will be able to get it by the end of the week,” Fikri said.

She also added, “She’s a very caring person.”

At times, students do find themselves thinking that they have mastered a song and they don’t need to do any more work on it. However, it’s important to know a great deal of time and effort goes into making a piece of music perfect, especially as a whole.