They needed a little education

A cool music-related story I stumbled on through a casino contact recently sparked my interest. On Nov. 26, Pink Floyd founding member Roger Waters harnessed the talent of choir students from Duane D. Keller Middle School to sing the chorus of “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” (you know, the song with the chorus that goes, “We don’t need no education!”) during an elaborate performance of arguably the greatest rock ’n’ roll concept album, The Wall, at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The group of 20 seventh- and eighth-graders rehearsed with Waters himself, plus his incredible band, the night before the show.

“The students that performed at the concert are from my top choir,” Keller Middle School director of choirs Jamie Quashnock told me during a recent phone chat. “They work hard and love to be in the choir, so it was a real treat for them.”

How did Waters settle upon the Keller crew? Reportedly, he has been relying on local student choirs during each stop of his current tour. His production team reached out to MGM Resorts International to help secure a gang of pip-squeak singers. Turns out the corporate casino monolith, through its community affairs program, has forged relationships with a number of “empowerment schools”—a program whereby employees volunteer their time to assist schools with cleanup, maintenance and more. So the Keller choir was an easy match.

It was all in a night’s work for these youngsters; they’re anything but green newbies to the whole live-concert thing. Indeed, the middle-schoolers have performed all over the Valley, including a rousing concert last year at House of Blues, an event also orchestrated by MGM Resorts, that had everyone applauding on their feet. (Still, it’s scary to think that, when Pink Floyd’s The Wall debuted in 1980, these kids parents’ were barely in middle school themselves.)

“It’s a wonderful relationship that we have with MGM,” Quashnock says. “These kids get opportunities that no other choirs in the district get, and we are thankful for that.”

It wasn’t just one quick rehearsal that made the moment possible. Waters’ people mailed Quashnock a DVD of an earlier performance to help her and the choir prepare in advance. In the preceding week, she rehearsed a few times with the students “to work on the steps.”

“Since they are my advanced kids, it was not long before they were good to go.”

Looks like some of that education paid off after all.

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