Want to help the choir retreat?

Hear the cat's pajamas sing.

Yes sir, they're making "meow-sic" in the schools.

Chatfield High School's choral arts instructor, Barbara Ahl, has invited an a cappella group, "Cat's Pajamas" to visit the students next Tuesday, March 11. The group will also perform an evening concert, sharing their new release, "Kitty Litter."

"I received a postcard in the mail and I checked out their website to see what the cost was, what the catch was, too," said Ahl.

She found that there was no "cat-ch" to the Cat's Pajamas bringing their brand of "meow-sic" to the school, even though they're famous enough to have been on television.

According to the musical group's website, "The Cat's Pajamas Vocal Band is a five-man a cappella group that has been touring around the world since 2005 and has recently appeared on NBC's 'The Sing-Off.' Founded by Brian Skinner, The Cat's Pajamas entered the national spotlight when they placed in the top 10 while performing their 'Oreo Cookie Jingle' for Randy Jackson. After years of performing on Celebrity and Norwegian cruise ships as guest entertainers, The Cat's Pajamas now perform over 200 shows per year at the Music City Centre Theatre in Branson, Mo., across the Midwest as part of their Music in Schools tour, in Atlantic City and throughout the United States."

Ahl related that the group is originally from Wisconsin, and were going to be in their home state from March 13 to 15. "They wanted to include us in their time here so they wouldn't have to double their travel expenses," she explained. "My first goal is to get Cat's Pajamas here so the kids can talk to them...because they were from Wisconsin and are now nationally known. They will be here during the day to work with my students one-to-one, and then they'll have a concert at night."

Ahl also explained that a cappella music is so new that the kids can connect and understand it. "It's an amazingly educational, yet exciting opportunity for them...the kids are excited to have them come," she added.

Since Ahl teaches a wide range of students - from sixth through 12th grade - and directs two choirs, including a seventh and eighth grade choir and a ninth through 12th grade choir, she feels it's a chance for them to hear what a professional performance sounds like, and better yet, in person.

So, after Cat's Pajamas visits the school during the day, they'll be performing a public concert as a fundraiser for the Chatfield High School choral arts department.

"I'm looking at my second year here and I'd like to begin a retreat for my students to go on in the fall to get to know each other, because this is a performance-based class and I'm teaching people who don't know each other," Ahl explained. "(There are) ninth graders joining choir for the first time, and seniors who know what they're doing, but if you don't know the person singing next to you, it's not comfortable. I'd love to use the money raised through the concert to start doing a yearly retreat. I want to make it a fun retreat, an educational overnight on a Friday into a Saturday."

She added the students are being taught the tenets of professionalism during choir rehearsals and the retreats would allow her to further impress them upon the young singers.

"I'm always talking with the kids about how we can be better," Ahl continued. "I tell them that professional musicians practice eight hours a day and we need to practice every day, find what we can do to get better. Our goal is to be a group that people are excited to hear."

That said, Ahl pointed out the students are soon competing in large group contest, they'll hold their home concert on March 18, attend solo ensemble contest on April 15 and host their spring concert on May 13. The students will round out the year with the men's and women's ensembles performing together at graduation, sharing the stage with the choir to accompany commencement exercises.

For now, she's pleased to be welcoming the Cat's Pajamas to Chatfield. "This is an outstanding, extraordinary opportunity for the kids," she said. "To me, this is right up there to have a nationally known group come to the school...I think it's just amazing for the kids."

The Cat's Pajamas will present a public concert in the Chatfield High School gymnasium at 7 p.m., on Tuesday, March 11. Admission is $8 for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, $12 for adults and $5 for children through preschool.

Tickets are available at the Chatfield High School counselor's office, at Dave's Barbershop, F&M Community Bank's Chatfield branch, and at Root River State Bank.

For more information on the Cat's Pajamas, one may log onto www.vocalmeow.com.