The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

Harmony in Community

Christian Jackson leads the Parker ensemble
Photo credit: Christain Jackson
Choir teacher Christian Jackson conducts a choir of middle schoolers at the Winter Choral Concert.

In the Parker choir room, a new chapter of the choral program has begun with the arrival of Christian Jackson, the new musically passionate and community-oriented choir teacher. With a background deeply rooted in gospel music, Jackson’s path to Parker was created by not only his lifelong love for music but also his constant desire to “foster meaningful connections within a community,” he said.

Growing up surrounded by the gospel music of his mother and others, Jackson quickly discovered what music meant to him. “I really liked the idea of being able to foster a community and inspire people, and I really liked music. I figured that finding a career that encapsulated all of those things, like music teaching, would be best for me,” Jackson said.

His educational background in music came from Millikin University where he was in a choral program that ended up laying the foundation for his career that would combine his passion for others and also his experience and education in the music field. Once he was out of college, Jackson taught for three years at Eisenhower High School, Johns Hill Magnet School, and Decatur Underground Theatre. After these three years, Jackson found his way to Parker where his goal is to do something more than simply teaching music to choir students.

“I’ve been meaning to create meaningful relationships with students. Getting to know the students at Parker has been a big focus of mine this year, getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of Parker choir,” he said.

Despite the challenges created for the students by the frequent turnover in the choir teacher position at Parker, Jackson sees it as an advantage at the same time. He believes that the diverse experiences of the past teachers have equipped the students with a multitude of tools for their journey in music.

Jackson says that his philosophy on music education has evolved over the years. He believes that there is no “surefire way” for students to learn music and continually stresses the importance of allowing the students to have access to everything they may need to explore the topics of music. “I think it’s important that students have a wide variety of tools they can use to learn music,” he said.

Middle School choir director Rob Denien sees the impact of Jackon’s teaching style and approach to the classroom. Denien appreciated Jackson’s active role in helping students with sight reading and motivating the Middle School choir. He described Jackson as “super prepared” and that he “knows what he wants to get done.” Denien said. 

Lucas Werneck Fraga, a sophomore in Concert Choir and Grape Jam, praised Jackson for being a “very welcoming soul in the Parker community.” It is important to Werneck Fraga that a teacher is good at “keeping a friendly relationship with the students,” which he said that Jackson has done “a very good job at.” 

Werneck Fraga described a memorable experience he had in an activity in Grape Jam where Jackson would say something nice, and while students covered their eyes, a student would tap the heads of people who they believed showed this trait. Werneck Fraga said that this was a bonding experience for everyone. 

Activities like these are “very important when you have a choral group like [Grape Jam]; everyone needs relationships and connection to be able to function properly,” Werneck Fraga said.“I think as much as it is about singing and making music as a group, getting together and making relationships and connections with other people who are maybe not in my classes or grade has been really special.” 

In the first months of being a choir teacher at Parker, Jackson has brought a refreshing, community-focused perspective to the choral program. Through his dedication to building relationships, encouraging diverse musical experiences, and fostering a supportive environment, Jackson plans to forge this community into something more than just a group of singers. With Jackson as a teacher, the choir is not only a musical ensemble but a community that he plans on bringing closer than ever before.

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About the Contributor
Ben Israel
Ben Israel, Copy Editor
Ben Israel is a sophomore who is excited to spend his first year writing for "The Weekly" as a Copy Editor. He is on Parker's Cross Country and Tennis teams, and is one of this year's Curriculum committee heads.