Carroll High School students named to all-state chorus for this weekend’s All-State Music Festival at Iowa State University in Ames are (from left) senior Nick Schumacher, junior Abby Murane and sophomore Jeff Shymanski. Schumacher was selected all-state for the fourth time and Murrane the third time, while Shymanski was a first alternate last year.
Carroll High School students named to all-state chorus for this weekend’s All-State Music Festival at Iowa State University in Ames are (from left) senior Nick Schumacher, junior Abby Murane and sophomore Jeff Shymanski. Schumacher was selected all-state for the fourth time and Murrane the third time, while Shymanski was a first alternate last year.
Friday, November 16, 2012

Carroll High School senior Nick Schumacher sees music being central to his life long into the future.

He took a step toward that goal when he recently became one of the few CHS students in recent years to earn four-year all-state vocal honors. Past four-year all-staters are Dusty Heino, Kelsey Duhrkopf and Erica Doud.

Schumacher, son of Jerry and Ruth Schumacher and Robert and Elizabeth Peterson, is one of three CHS students selected for the 602-member All-State Chorus. The others are junior Abby Murrane, daughter of Tim and Virginia Murrane, third year all-state, and sophomore Jeff Shymanski, son of John and Lucinda Shymanski, first year, first alternate last year.

According to a news release on all-state music selections, approximately 17 percent of the students who audition are selected for membership in all-state ensembles, which include the chorus, a 283-piece band and a 204-piece orchestra.

Participants will rehearse in Ames today and Saturday, and the All-State Festival concert will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. Iowa Public TV will record the concert for broadcast. The all-state program is under the auspices of the Iowa High School Music Association and Iowa Music Educators Association.

At the Festival, Schumacher and all other four-year all-staters will receive special individual introductions.

Looking forward to performing in all-state chorus, Schumacher says of singing in the 600-strong group, “You may think your voice doesn’t matter in that, but it really does. It makes all the difference in the world. And to be a part of something that big, it gives me chills to the point where sometimes I’d stop singing and just listen and be almost in tears because it was so amazing and gorgeous.”

He adds, “Watching on TV, it sounds good. But it’s nothing like being in the choir.”

Doug Sweeney, who has instructed Schumacher in vocal music both at Carroll Middle School and Carroll High School, comments, “Nick has an incredible natural voice, great ear, and along with these gifts he is a very, very hard-worker with high expectations of himself. When I heard him when he was just a student at CMS I knew there was a bright future, and I thought there was another potential four-year all-stater.”

Sweeney says of the four-year all-state achievement, “To be accepted into the all-state chorus for four years is an incredible accomplishment. Out of the 600 students accepted into the chorus 10 at the most each year are four-year all-staters.  The advantage is to the older, more mature musician so it is more difficult for freshmen and sophomores. When Erica (Doud) and Kelsey (Duhrkopf) were recognized at the concert for their four years in all-state there were only seven from the choir.”

Possibly one of the qualities that’s driven Schumacher to the top is his passion for music to the point that he becomes frustrated when other students don’t share his high standards and intensity. He sees it as lost opportunity for them. But he says he’s learned to control his emotion.

Sweeney observes, “He has very high expectations of himself, and that is what it takes to be successful in music. The desire to drive yourself that one extra step. That shows not only in his accomplishment as an all-state musician but also in his many roles that he has on our musicals especially the way he took control in this years show ‘Footloose.’”

Music has been a part of Schumacher’s life for a long time. His mom, Elizabeth Peterson, is a veteran music teacher at Kuemper Catholic Middle School (St. Lawrence Center). His dad, Jerry Schumacher, is head of engineering with Toyne Inc. fire truck manufacturer in Breda.

Nick says with a laugh, “He (his dad) is one of the most unmusical people you will ever meet. I got the music from my mom probably, and I got the engineering or mechanical capability from my dad, so I have the best of both worlds. Having those two skills, which are almost polar opposites, is something I’m really thankful for.”

Schumacher says his parents and stepparents have strongly supported his interest in music. He received a keyboard from his dad and stepmom and taught himself how to play piano, he says, “by reading through the music and playing things over and over.”

He adds, “I picked up a little technique here and there. The Internet is a good resource for that.”

Schumacher also has found a supportive environment at school and says, “All my closest friends have been involved in music, and that has encouraged me.”

He began band lessons in fifth grade playing clarinet and first sang for an instructor in school in seventh grade. In eighth grade, he was selected for Opus Honor Chorus.

Schumacher credits vocal-music teacher Sweeney with giving him tools necessary to excel.

Trying out for all-state, Schumacher says, he’s had the good fortune of singing with outstanding schoolmates: Scott Cullen, Bridget Hughes and Tanna Henkelman his freshman year; Abby Murrane and Elyse Borchers his sophomore year; Murrane and Moriah Hodge last year; and Murrane this year.

He says of Cullen, Hughes and Henkelman his freshman year, “They really helped me learn to become an all-stater because they’d made it before.”

His sophomore audition provided some high anxiety, because judges called him back for a second performance before making a decision.

“The chance I wasn’t going to make it was really stressful,” he says. “That was the year I screamed when they rolled down the results and I was on them. That was a huge relief.”

Schumacher says he’s grown in music long past the days when he’d concentrate heavily just on reading the music. Now it’s coming by instinct and he can pour emotion into the music.

“It’s so much more than what’s written on the page,” he says. “It’s really a deep level of understanding that you need in order to make it into all-state choir, which is why it’s really hard to make it.

“It’s that deeper level of understanding, that makes you start thinking about other things in your life and how much meaning they have.

“It’s an amazing experience to be able to take something written on paper and turn it into something that can make people cry, make people laugh, make people happy. That’s one of the most important things.”

Schumacher sees music as something he’ll be able to do the rest of his life.

“It’s an emotional outlet for me,” he says. “Some people have their arts. Some people play sports to get all the emotion out of them. But music is my thing. It’s that important to me.”

Sweeney says, “I see him doing anything that he would like to do in music. He has already been doing some composing. He also a natural gift for that, as well as his talents with voice, piano and clarinet and probably any other instrument he would decide to pursue.  I could see him performing, doing composition> It is wide open for him, and as hard as he works, doors will open up for him.”

At one time Schumacher, who carries a 4.0 grade-point average and is a National Honor Society member, thought he’d possibly follow closer to his dad’s footsteps and pursue architectural study.

But he’s now made music his focus.

In instrumental music at CHS he’s played clarinet and piano and recently took up alto saxophone with the jazz band.

He’s received Northwest Iowa Honor Band honors the last three years. He didn’t audition his freshman year, and now, he says, he regrets missing the chance of earning that honor for four years.

“I enjoy doing honor bands as much as I do honor choirs,” says Schumacher, adding, “It’s really good to have experience in both (band and choir) because they’re both so important to me.”

He’s served as CHS band drum major the last two years and has enjoyed providing his own flair — hand motions and glitter toss — before stepping up to lead the band at football halftime shows.

“I looked up videos online and kind of mishmashed them and put up the moves that I want,” he says.

On stage in CHS fall plays, Schumacher has had prominent roles all four years, playing the evil dentist in “The Little Shop of Horrors,” Hawkeye in “MASH,” Professor Harold Hill in “The Music Man,” and Ren in “Footloose.” Schumacher also hopes to perform in theater in college.

In show choir, Schumacher has been part of a CHS group that has a long tradition of receiving top ratings at state contest and scoring high in other contests as well.

He plans to attend either Luther College in Decorah or Central College in Pella and major in band or vocal-music education.

“Later I may go into composition or theory at a bigger school,” he says. “I can see myself as either a chorus or band teacher. I’d be happy at either one. But either way music has to be a really big part of my life.  I can’t see myself living without being in some sort of band or singing in some sort of choir or directing. I can’t see my life without it.”