Shenango senior one of the best singers in the country | News

When the curtain goes up next month on Shenango High’s production of “Legally Blonde,” audiences will see and hear one of the nation’s top high school tenors.

It is Joshua Bruce, who will have the male lead role of Emmett Brown in the musical.

His most recent featured gig, however, was as a member of the National Association for Music Education’s All-Nation Honor Choir. Bruce is only the second Shenango student in school history to reach this milestone, and one of 533 students from 48 states and territories to qualify for one of the NAFME sets this year, which include also a symphony orchestra, a concert band, a jazz ensemble, a guitar ensemble. and modern group.

Bruce was supposed to be spending the Jan. 22-24 weekend in San Diego with other high school musicians from around the country, but COVID concerns prompted the event to go virtual. Instead, each singer recorded their part and submitted it to NAFME, which will digitally combine them to create an online concert that has yet to be released.

“I would have loved to go to San Diego, but I’m really glad I got to attend the virtual event as well,” said Jonathan and Tricia Bruce’s son. “It was really informative and we were able to learn from a bunch of different speakers. It was a great time just to be with everyone, even though we couldn’t be in person.

Bruce, a senior, took the preliminary step to earning a spot in the National Choir when he served in the All States Choir as a junior. This earned him the right to audition for national recognition.

“It’s always been my dream to be in one of the top choirs, and I’m so glad I did,” he said, conceding he wasn’t sure if he could be a part. nationals. “I just thought I was going to give it a shot because I was here and had my chance. I figured I might as well go.

His choral music teacher, Samantha Leali, was not at all surprised that he was accepted.

“Sometimes you know when you have a student who has that little something extra,” she said. “With Josh, he has a lot of natural, God-given ability, but he also has a really good work ethic and he’s smart. He is able to self-assess, diagnose and correct on his own. He has a very good ear, he is a drummer in our marching band. He is a strong musician both instrumentally and vocally.

“I remember her freshman year, her first festival, pinning her pin on her dress and thinking, ‘I can’t wait to see where this goes.’ Now he is covered in medals and has accomplished literally everything there is to achieve.

Still, making a recording he liked enough to submit to the choir wasn’t exactly child’s play.

“I spent a few hours outside of rehearsals learning the music and mastering it,” he said. “We did technical work when we were all together in Zoom classes. Then we recorded the following week.

“I recorded for about three hours, so I can tell you I had a lot of bad recordings. Luckily we were able to do it more than once.

As for the one he decided to make the cut, “It was better than my others. It wasn’t perfect but it was probably as close as it gets. I felt like I spent enough time there- on it, so I’ll just return it.

Recording isn’t the only thing he’s spent a lot of time on.

In addition to singing and drumming, Bruce runs with the Wildcats cross country and track teams. He also hits the books and is the academic number three in his class. He plans to continue his education and choir career at Penn State University, where he will study biomedical engineering.

Then there’s the next spring musical to rehearse, and he’s getting ready to take his final shots at district, regional, and all-state choirs.

Bruce’s rise to the National Honor Choir is not just an accomplishment for him, Leali believes, but also a legacy for young students to aspire to — much like the one Michael West left behind when the 2017 graduate and current Penn State senior has become the first participant in the Shenango National Choir. .

“Michael did it, and he was the first in the school’s history, and I think it really opened some kids’ eyes,” Leali said. “Josh was a seventh grader, and these kids see, ‘Hey, it’s doable if I work hard.’ A kid from a school that has less than 100 graduates can become one of the best in the country.

Bruce has some advice for anyone looking to become Shenango’s third national choir qualifier.

“Just keep going and make sure you practice,” he said. “Sometimes I didn’t train as much as I should have, and that led to me not doing as well.

“But as long as you keep working at it and striving to achieve what you want to achieve, and even set the bar higher than you want to, then you can achieve anything you want to achieve.”

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