Clearfield mayor shares love of music with youth
Music has always been a part of Don Wood's life.
As a child, he sang and played piano, and even learned to play pipe organ at the Tabernacle in Temple Square.
Wood kept his love of music as he became a father of seven, but while he saw plenty of opportunities for his children to play sports, he found nothing to engage children musically.
When Wood, 58, became mayor of Clearfield, he decided to change that.
"We wanted children to be able to express themselves through music, give them the opportunity to learn parts and music theory," Wood said. "We also wanted to give them an opportunity to perform in the community and showcase their talents."
He and other community members formed the Clearfield Children's Choir after an adult version had succeeded in the community. The children's choir, now in its fourth year, has 22 members from Clearfield and surrounding communities. Members rehearse on Thursday nights at the Clearfield community center, and the choir performs throughout the year.
Their biggest show was for the Davis County Council of Governments, which includes all the county's leaders.
"That was something that was really amazing to see these young people sing to distinguished leaders and individuals," Wood said. "[And ] They sang at Christmas socials in front of groups of 300 people. That was exciting,"
Helping with the choir is Don Wood's daughter, Donna Bisseger.
"My dad and I have been involved in music my whole life. I played piano since I was 4; we've played piano duets around the valley. Music is a huge part of our life. My dad has always been a great example, and this was just another opportunity to do something together," Bisseger said.
Nine-year-old Jaxsen Bisseger loves being in the choir.
"I like singing, and it's just fun to meet every Thursday with all my friends," Jaxsen said. "I think singing in concerts is the most fun thing we've done."
Keri Benson has been involved with the choir since its inception. She has four children, all of whom have been in the choir. Early on, Benson saw the need for volunteers, and she began conducting the group.
"I have kids who love to perform, so it has taught them music appreciation, and they have been able to sing songs they would not usually have access to," Benson said.
Benson loves to help children build character and believes performing "gets them out of the box."
"Having the community come out and be involved and see the kids perform is great. The more they perform the more kids come out and want to join the choir," Benson said. "I'd never heard of a city choir so this has been a great opportunity."
When Wood envisioned the children's choir, he saw a place where children could come together and learn and grow.
"I have a great love for the young people in our community. I have a love of music, and I like to instill that in young people. It lifts and elevates them as individuals," he said. "It builds in them a sense of self-worth, and they can practice and accomplish something and then showcase their talents."