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A new song and dance

About 110 Farmington music students, in grades 4-12, joined the members of The Young Americans in a concert at the FHS recital hall Tuesday night.

There was a whole lot of energy coming out of the Farmington High School recital hall Tuesday evening.

About 110 Farmington students joined another 40 or 50 college-aged adults in a night full of song, dance and good entertainment.

The concert capped an intense three-day workshop conducted by The Young Americans, a nonprofit musical education group from California. A team of The Young Americans - mostly musical performers between 18 and 24 years of age - had been working with Farmington students since Sunday night.

In those three days, the local students who participated learned both lyrics and choreography to a variety of tunes. They met from 4-9 p.m. the past few days, and were ready to take that show to the stage.

"The kids are really excited," said Farmington High School music teacher Ryan Utecht, who brought The Young Americans to Farmington.

Utecht had heard good things about The Young Americans. When the group did a three-day project at another school district nearby, Utecht went to see what it was all about. He liked what he saw.

"I had seen how excited the kids were and how much fun they were having, and I thought, 'I'd love this for our students,'" he said. "They're very exciting. I feel like this is an experience (Farmington's students) will never forget."

Usually, students in Farmington's music programs have a couple of months between concerts - time enough to get to learn songs and perfect melodies before performing them. Utecht really liked the fun way The Young Americans help participating students learn not only the words and melodies, but, in many instances.

The enthusiasm of The Young Americans' members is pretty catchy. It's not unheard of to have otherwise shy students find the courage they need to be the star of the show, thanks to a little positive feedback during the workshops.

"It's really about the creativity, about being open and communicating with the audience," Utecht said. "And it gives a lot of good messages to the students, too."

The show started at 7 p.m., with The Young Americans taking the first hour or so to do a performance of their own. Founded in 1962, the group runs the gamut of genres and styles, doing everything from country to rock and roll, or gospel to ethnic types of music.

In the show's second hour, the 110 Farmington students got involved. They had a few numbers ready to go, and when they were done with those, they did a few more with The Young Americans. That's neat, too, Utecht said, because the students are working with the older performers, and everyone is having a great time.

Would Utecht ask The Young Americans back? Well, on Monday, he just wanted to get through Tuesday's performances. And The Young Americans tend to plan on a three-year cycle, so it's really hard for Utecht to make that commitment just yet.

"But I would definitely not rule it out," he said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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