Exclusive Look Into Southside Choir Director

Pluto Douglas, Assistant Newspaper Editor

Southside has entered a new era of staff. With the retirement of countless teachers, the introduction of freshmen, and the recent pandemic, new teachers are hired almost every year. One such instructor is Donald Thames, a choir director. He is the successor of Mr. Keith Reeves and is already well-loved by many of his students.

Thames is a relatively new teacher. This is his fifth year in the profession; his first four years spent at Founders Classical Academy in Bentonville, Arkansas. He devoted this time at the academy to “building a music program.” 

“I have been a performer and conductor for a long time, but I became a teacher in order to help create and maintain safe spaces where individuals can find themselves and learn to use their natural instrument – the Voice – to express themselves for a greater good. Choir is an art form of great beauty, but one that is impossible to experience by yourself. Together, these ideas make Choir a place to find your individual Self, but to express yourself for the good of others,” Thames said.

Thames is very optimistic about his first year here at Southside. He is “honored and proud” to have become a part of Southside’s achievements. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he says that choir has been “missing from public life” and that he is excited to spend his time here bringing it back to the limelight. In fact, his teaching philosophy stems from this affection for the art of singing. 

“Everyone has a voice – everyone can learn to sing and sing well. I teach choir as though it is literacy in a language. I have young children, and just as they learn to listen, speak, read, and write, I teach choir students to 1) understand what they hear with their ears, musically, 2) how to sing with their voice as an instrument, all the way down to each muscle, 3) how to sight-read music and understand the music they see on the page, and lastly 4) how to write either music they hear with their ears, or as a creative process, the music they hear in their head,” Thames said.

Thames seems to be one of the most passionate directors here at Southside. His fondness for both singing and students shines through in all of his work. With all the recent additions this year, it is difficult to feel confused- but Thames stands out. He is new and fervent about his career. Thames carries a message to all of his students. 

“Every one of you is amazing, talented, and can be great at what you do – focus, work hard, and above all else, be kind to yourself and to others. Be Brave, Be Strong, Be True,” Thames said.