Three generations of Pufalls ready for Bay Port Pops Concert
By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – Chances are if you sang in a choir at Bay Port High School at one point during the last 46 years you were instructed by a member of the Pufall family.
David Pufall spent 35 years at Bay Port as director of a number of choirs, before retiring in 2009.
He then encouraged his son, Michael, to apply for the position. Michael is now in his 11th year as a choir director.
At the upcoming Pops Concert, Oct. 31 and Nov. 2, Michael’s son, Jonathan, will likely get a chance to sing while being directed by his father, and accompanied by his grandfather, who still volunteers to play piano for concerts.
Jonathan, who also plays cello in the orchestra, said the decision to join choir was entirely his.
“I love the feeling of singing in a group,” he said. “I haven’t had that feeling in a long time and the music – it’s a passion of mine. I love this class and I love singing in a group.”
Jonathan is a member of the Cantus, a non-auditioned group open to all male students.
He said choir is a valuable class for those at Bay Port interested in continuing their musical education.
“If you have an interest in singing, continue with it, don’t quit because your friends are quitting,” Jonathan said. “Do what you love and continue with it because it will turn out to be something really cool in high school and beyond.”
The freshman said he knows he wants to keep music in his life after high school, but is unsure if he wants to walk the same path as his father and grandfather.
For Michael, that’s just fine, because David didn’t pressure him to follow in his footsteps either.
“I sang all the way though (high school) because I enjoyed it, it felt good and I liked making music,” Michael said. “So he didn’t pressure me, but I joined and it was something I continue to love. It became a passion, so you follow your passion.”
Michael said choir is about more than hitting the right notes, but hitting them the proper way, with the correct tone, clarity and focus.
“If I can be responsive and reactive to the right things, they’re going to catch on to that,” he said. “But part of the challenge is how do I get what I’m looking for? How do I instruct them or help them create the sound or the style? A lot of it is style, not only learning the music, but good vocal technique. I think modeling and doing extremes can help put that in perspective at this age.”
But what Michael loves most about his job is the creation of a song from a sheet of music.
“I joke with my wife I look forward to going to school everyday,” he said. “I’m very fortunate I can do what I love to do, and it’s the idea of creation, you’re creating something, you’re creating the part. I think that’s kind of cool. Then sharing that creation with the youth, with teenagers and having that creation be a part of what their experiencing with their life. That’s kind of deep, but it’s a big deal for me, giving students opportunities.”
The Pufall family choir patriarch, David, said a simple fact helped him teach choir and instill a love of music in his students for three and a half decades.
“All I know is that I realized early on that I was perhaps the last music teacher that most of these kids would have, so anything these kids were going to get, they were going to get from me or they weren’t going to get it,” David said. “In terms of understanding music, making music and appreciating music, they had to take ownership of it.”
When David came to Bay Port in 1974, the school had two choirs. The school now has six.
He also started a number of different concerts and musical opportunities and performances for students that still exist today.
“These are all things that have never been done by anybody else, at least in the area, and I never had opposition from anybody or any of my administrators, so if you don’t have that kind of backing, it can be kind of hard,” David said.
There is a strong chance people who attend this year’s Pops Concert at Bay Port will be able to see three generations of Pufalls on the stage at the same time, but Michael won’t commit just yet.
This year’s Pops Concert, “Woodstock to the Moon,” celebrates 1969 and the 50 years since.
The concert consists of the choirs singing contemporary music instead of classical fare.
The concert is at 7 p.m. Oct. 31 and Nov. 2 at the Bay Port Performing Arts Center.
There is no admission, but nonperishable food donations will be accepted.