Handing off the spotlight

Kelly Johnson and Jenna Lasky, Page Editor, Staff Writer

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Before he started working at Glenbrook North last August, director of choirs Eric Skalinder toured the country, fulfilling the rock and roll lifestyle of constant performances, long nights spent writing songs, rehearsing with the group and meeting a variety of different people.

“Being on the road and touring the United States is not quite the glamorous life of rock-and-roll that people think it is,” Skalinder said.

Skalinder is a former member of a professional a cappella group, Blind Man’s Bluff. The group toured the United States for six years and recorded six CDs, two of which Skalinder recorded  with them.

While touring, Skalinder performed at a variety of unique venues across the country.

“One of the best parts of performing is that you can’t always be sure what type of audience you will be performing in front of,” he said.

According to Skalinder, one of his most enjoyable memories was performing for a group of retirees in the middle of Ohio. While performing, the audience sat there captivated by the music. Afterwards, one of the audience members said the group’s singing “renewed his faith in the younger generation.”

After the group broke up in 2002 due to creative differences, Skalinder said he traded in his spotlight to pursue a master’s degree in education.

“There are a lot of teachers in my family. … Before I joined Blind Man’s Bluff, the other group I was singing with did a lot of workshops with high schools and colleges,” said Skalinder. “I really enjoyed these workshops, and it just made me think about what I wanted do next, [and teaching was it].”

According to Chad Davidson, instructional supervisor for fine arts, Skalinder’s experience as a professional a cappella singer helped him land a teaching job.

“He’s very experienced at recording and sound production,” said Davidson. “We have a lot of great equipment like microphones, speakers, mixing boards, and a lot of our kids know how to use them, but they don’t know what to listen for so he’s able to kind of teach those kids, guide them and say, ‘Okay, when you’re in an a cappella group, this is what we need to hear.’”

According to junior Reede Norlie, Skalinder’s experience, love for music and humor was evident right away.

“We sometimes give him, like, nicknames like Skalamander, or Skallywag, and he’ll respond to that,” said Norlie. “He’s not like, ‘Please, I’m a professional. Don’t call me that.’”

Despite his love for singing, Skalinder said he would not go back to being a professional singer, and has since worked to inspire the next generation of singers.

“I love teaching,” said Skalinder. “I just love it. I love working with [high school] students, especially here [at GBN] because they have so much energy and enthusiasm, and they’re highly skilled already. It’s really exciting to give them opportunities to grow what they already know and [what they already] can do.”

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Handing off the spotlight