FARMINGTON — Even though this is the University of New Mexico's finals week, music professor Regina Carlow left Albuquerque and spent Tuesday in Farmington.

When her students called to ask where she was, Carlow replied that she was out of town doing "something important."

That "something important" was directing more than 200 choir students from nine different Farmington elementary schools in the 34th annual Fifth-Grade Honor Choir Clinic Concert Tuesday evening.

"Dr. Carlow's job is to make it one choir," said Caroline Glass, McCormick Elementary music teacher.

This presented many challenges for Carlow. For instance, working with nine elementary schools meant nine different interpretations of the songs. And students had to sing in a much larger group than they are accustomed to.

"At most, they have practiced in groups of 30 to 40," Carlow said.

Each school also had a different amount of time to work with students. While certain schools built in time for music, students at other schools like McKinley Elementary have been meeting after school.

McKinley Elementary's music teacher Neva DePew said students often join the choir because of the chance to audition for the New Mexico Elementary All-State Choir, which travels to Las Cruces every year. About 13 of the students in the fifth-grade honor choir also sang together as part of the all-state team. Many of the honor choir members go on to be involved in music in middle school, Glass said.

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"These children are very comfortable singing," Carlow said.

The students' knowledge of the music and their parts allowed Carlow to make subtle music changes during Tuesday's rehearsal before the performance.

Carlow said she enjoys coming to Farmington because of how serious the schools take music education.

Hannah Grover can be reached at hgrover@daily-times.com; 505-564-4652. Follow her on Twitter @hmgrover.