"Move a little while you are singing," veteran teacher Tim Rosenthal tells the Overdrive a capella group at Beloit Turner High School.
The students begin to sway rhythmically, blended voices harmonizing as they sing "The House of the Rising Sun."
Next number, the tempo changes as they slide into the rock tune "Radioactive."
"Get the feeling of the pulse," the teacher says.
The students were practicing for an upcoming opportunity to open for the Wisconsin Singers at the Overture Center, Rosenthal explained with a definite note of pride in his voice.
As the varsity a capella group continued with "Freedom," a Beyonce tune, he directed them to "watch those pitches."
At this skill level, the students pick the music, he said.
"All are catered to the strengths and weaknesses of what we do," he said.
After teaching music for 25 years and directing 25 musical productions in the Beloit Turner School District, Rosenthal has plenty of insight as to who can do what.
There are certain challenges with a capella, he explains.
"You have to do your part while someone else is singing their part in your face; you've got to be independent and have confidence in your own pitch and notes," he said.
Students appreciate his guidance.
Senior Sara Crave said Rosenthal has been her music teacher since kindergarten.
"He's just taught us so much, being a senior and looking back on it. He was super personable with the kids and he always showed love and kindness," she said.
With group performances such as the varsity a capella group Crave sings with, she said Rosenthal challenges students to be creative and collaborate.
He's also supportive when directing the musicals, said Crave, who recently acted in this year's musical, "The Wedding Singer." Crave played the cousin to the main character.
"The character was very opposite from myself. Mr. Rosenthal was awesome in helping me with character development," she said.
Having reached the 25-year milestone in his career, recently, Rosenthal took some time to reflect on his years of teaching.
"I was an elementary school music teacher for 16 years, then they transferred me up here," he said.
Presently he teaches at the middle school and high school.
"I have four full-time classes; then I do pull-out times for lessons and assessments. We do a lot of section work during class time," he said.
After classes, he directs the a capella groups as well as the plays that students do as extracurricular activities.
With the choir classes he teaches, the student groups are of course larger.
"Choirs always have strength in numbers. The chances of finding the right pitch is easier," he said.
As students get older, skills get refined with practice.
"It's setting up all of those habits from seventh and eighth grade on; it takes lots of years and practice," he said.
When asked if he has a favorite musical he has directed over the years, he says they are all special.
"Each show is so special, being that group of kids. Lots have been so much fun," he said.
And hopefully, the shows have given students the same love of the theater experience.
John Turner, President of the Beloit Turner Board of Education, praised Rosenthal's efforts.
"I think as an instructor he is very good at the art of communicating with students. As a choir instructor, he has increased the number of students. I think he is a very good educator and teacher of the musical arts and drama and he relates well to the students," Turner said.
Rosenthal isn't the only one in his family with musical interests. His wife, Liz Rosenthal, recently retired as the Turner band teacher. Daughter Hayley acts and sings. Both Hayley and her dad performed in the Rock River Repertoire's production of "Ghost" this past summer. Son Sam sings in the a capella group Overdrive and son Taylor plays drums.
The music teacher says he is constantly learning and will soon complete his second master's degree.
"After December, I am going on to get my doctorate to be an example for my students," he said.
As for picking next year's musical, that will depend on who is available, has the time and ability, he said.
When asked how he helps drama students with character development, he says: "I use a lot of questioning techniques. I want them to find what their reaction in that character would be- how to become that character...I try to give them as much freedom as possible and let them rudder their development. I've learned by being the director I get to see how others would play a role not necessarily the way I would play it."
As a music teacher at this level, he tries to help kids have an appreciation for other genres and the feeling and sentiment of how it can transform them, he said.
Twenty-five years have gone fast.
"It flies by," he said. "Kids I had 25 years ago I still think of as kids in my mind. Some, I have taught their children."
As for teaching in the Beloit Turner School District, Rosenthal appears pleased.
"I've been very happy here," he said.