Marty Lassman, Delaware ACDA treasurer and teacher at Cab Calloway School of the Arts, will be presenting our Jazz Reading Session at the Rehoboth Beach Choral Workshop this year.
"I'm excited to be one of the presenters at this year's Rehoboth Beach Choral Workshop. I was asked to do a session on Jazz, and I know the immediate concerns everyone will have. Everyone loves singing the pieces but many are worried about how to present an authentic performance. With that in mind, I chose four pieces that will:
by David Lockart, President-elect, DE ACDA
Of the many benefits ACDA membership provides, I would like to reflect on ACDA’s mission to “inspire choral excellence,” and my experience with the finest choral conference I have attended.
Having spent the past two Eastern Division Conferences (Rhode Island and Baltimore) as the Interest Session Chair, I was delighted when Dr. Robert Duff, Director of Choral Activities at Dartmouth College, called and asked if I would take on the role of Asst. Interest Session Chair for the National Conference. For approximately a year, Bob and I organized the General Interest Sessions and, with leadership from composer Steven Sametz, the Composers Track Interest Sessions. We organized and edited over 70 presenters’ session information, photos, biographies, and session handouts for publication in the Choral Journal and on the conference app. During the conference, we coordinated the presenters, the session rooms and AV set-ups, pianos, risers, Session volunteers, presiders, and conference center personnel.
One of the best aspects of attending any ACDA conference or event is strengthening the connections made with our friends and colleagues. The Salt Lake City conference was no exception, as I enjoyed connecting with the ACDA leadership, friends old and new, and meeting new friends. The organizational meeting in ACDA President-Elect’s suite included Mary Hopper, ACDA President Elect, Executive Director Tim Sharp, Program Chair Mike Huff, ACDA Associate Director Craig Gregory, performance site chairs, and the leaders of the Honor Choirs, Hospitality, Interest Sessions, Auditioned Choirs, and Foreign Choirs.
Being from NJ, I was delighted to enjoy a dinner at the famous Red Iguana restaurant with Jack Hill, Chris Thomas, Laurie Lausi, Lori Lynch and the rest of the NJ delegate. It was a delight visiting with Joseph Flummerfelt, one of my most influential mentors, and reconnecting with some graduate school buddies including Andre Thomas and Anton Armstrong. I enjoyed spending time with our Delaware contingent, including Duane Cottrell, Cera Babb, Joanne Ward, Arreon Harley, Paul Head, Alexis Ford, Peter Solecki, Ned Perwo and Sara Gaines. Tom Sabatino was also on hand manning the JW Pepper booth.
Salt Lake City provided an excellent conference site. Several major hotels were within walking distance to the massive Salt Palace Conference Center, which housed all of the Interest Sessions, Conference Registration, Honor Choir rehearsal space, and industry vendor booths. Over 5000 choral directors attended. An additional 5000 choristers from invited, auditioned and honor choirs were present to perform at the many concert venues, all within easy walking distance. The venues included the Abravanel Hall (home of the Utah Symphony Orchestra and Chorus), the Mormon Tabernacle, the LDS Conference Center (whose 21,000 seats were full for the closing conference concert), and a nearby cathedral.
One obvious benefit of attending an ACDA conference is listening to excellent choirs – how they shape phrases, balance, blend, unify vowels, infuse feeling in their performance, and manage a variety of literature. Notable performances were given by our friend Stephen Holmes and the Maryland State Boychoir, the USC Chamber Singers, the Iowa State Singers, as well as some fabulous foreign choirs, The Metropolitan Chorus of Tokyo, Sine Nomine from Cuba, and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. The big evening concerts were phenomenal. On the opening night, the King’s Singers and the Real Group performed to a packed audience in the Tabernacle. The next night featured the Utah Symphony with combined ensembles of the University of Utah, featuring the Verdi Four Sacred Pieces and other selections. On the third night, I attended a flawless concert in the Tabernacle by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The closing concert in the LDS Conference Center featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Sylvia McNair, Santino Fontana, the USAF Singing Sergeants, which were joined by all of the honor choir members for the final selection. After a poignant message from Sylvia McNair about how important we all are in the lives of our singers, there were few dry eyes.
I am hopeful that this article will inspire you to set aside the time and expense necessary to attend ACDA events, including our DE ACDA Choral Workshop in June, Voices United in August, the Division Conference (February 2016 in Boston), and the 2017 National Conference in Minneapolis. You will be inspired, and the singers in your choirs will benefit from what you have experienced. Mark your calendars and visit the DEACDA website frequently for new news and information.
Please visit http://www.deacda.org/resources.html to sign up for DE ACDA notices.
By Margaret Anne Butterfield, Upper School Choir Director & IB Music Instructor, Wilmington Friends School
I am privileged to teach at a school where learning about various countries and cultures is highly valued. Of course, we learn about different cultures with choral music all the time! Because music is a universal language and a gateway to experiencing different points of view, I wanted to share 5 tips on including multicultural music in choral programming.
1. Singing in unfamiliar languages is easier with IPA. (Wouldn't it be lovely if all publishers used the same system?!?) If IPA isn't included, seek out a native speaker when possible. When my choir was learning Érik a Som*, I sought assistance from a colleague from Hungary and transcribed her pronunciation into IPA to share with my students. Once we mastered the pronunciation, we gave an impromptu performance for her math class. She loved it and praised the students for their diction!
2. Drums always add a "cool" factor. So does choreography, when appropriate. Mohland Ke Ktoglelang Hae was a huge hit with my choir and made other kids want to join!
3. Don't be afraid to teach something by rote. Doing so makes pieces from oral/aural traditions more authentic. And this isn't limited to pieces from other countries - the same practice works for our own folk songs. Those who attended Voices United in 2013 heard the Festival Choir with Jeff Johnson sing Down in the River to Pray using this very approach. If you are looking for a good source for African songs, Vela Vela is an excellent resource by Mollie Stone, drawn from her experiences with the Chicago Children's Choir and University of Cape Town in South Africa. The book comes with a DVD that includes individual part instruction as well as full performances. It also includes interviews with South African singers.
4. Get your audience involved by teaching them a song during your concert. A good resource is Nick Page's Sing With Us collection. We often do this as a "seventh inning stretch" during longer programs without an intermission - it's a win-win for the choirs and the audience.
5. Look for musical elements/gestures that are similar to something your kids know. It helps them make connections to other cultures and provides a great opportunity to explore how many people in a different part of the world experience the same musical phenomena. Learning traditional songs opens the door to investigation of ideas and elements that are significant in other cultures.
While I may be stating the obvious here, studying music of other cultures allows students to make other valuable sociological observations. When we did Sten Kallman's arrangement of the Haitian folksong Peze Kafé last year, in addition to mastering the various rhythmic and melodic patterns, it was fascinating to learn about the important of coffee in Haitian culture. And really, who doesn't love a good cup o' joe!
*Find more information about the repertoire mentioned above, here:
Mohlang Ke Ktoglelang Hae - Sesotho Folksong, arr. Rudolph deBeer; SATB - Hal Leonard Music
Peze Kafé - Haitian Folksong, arr. Sten Kallman; SATB - Walton Music
Érik a Som - Hungarian Folksong, arr. Lajos Bardos; SAB - Santa Barbara Music
Vela Vela - striving for authentic performance in black South African choral music, Mollie Spector Stone (self-published booklet with DVD)
Sing With Us Songbook - Nick Page; Hal Leonard
To purchase these titles (or for more information), please contact our friends at The Musical Source. For questions or comments about how multicultural music in the classroom, feel free to contact Margaret Anne Butterfield.
In the fall issue of ChorTeach (the choral director's online magazine of ACDA), you can find 119 different articles on many different topics (children's and church choirs to high school, middle school and professional ensembles). Check it out during your "lunch break" sometime.
One article in particular caught our attention, Sabbath Rest for Choral Directors by Jeffrey Benson. As Benson says in the article, "Most of us work long hours and dedicate our lives to this profession without stopping long enough to recharge our batteries." In the article, Benson gives 7 different ideas of ways to recharge your batteries, leading to a more inspired, renewed and rejuvenated person and choral director.
By Marty Lassman, Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington
Block scheduling turned out to be a surprisingly positive change when I grouped my choirs by gender.
Last year, because all Red Clay secondary schools went to block scheduling, I was (for the first time) able to schedule choirs across the grade levels. I had heard that segregating the genders was an advantage so I tried it, and it is one of the reasons I love block scheduling!
Here are 3 reasons why I've loved having my choirs grouped by gender:
1. Combining the girls across grade levels allows me to perform much more difficult music than is available for middle school mixed choirs. In addition, behavior problems really decrease. For some reason, the girls are much more rule driven so discipline problems are negligible. But, back to the music -- much more difficult and satisfying literature is available in Unison as well as SA, SSA and sometimes SSAA formats. Singing in foreign languages with better vowels is far easier as well.
2. Having a choir of just guys is a disciplinary struggle BUT the singing is remarkable. The guys get a chance to see how older boys have gotten through the voice change and how "cool" it is to sing. The literature can be challenging because the boy who was a soprano in September could be a tenor in January, but singing pop songs (in addition to classical literature) and adding "boy band" choreography is just awesome for them.
3. Word spreads and the choirs grow. Last year, I had 55 girls in an SSA choir. This year I have two choirs with a combined 130 girls! Last year, I had 20 boys in the Men's Choir. This year I have 41 and the counselor told me that more boys wanted to be in choir, but could not work out the scheduling. The guys love being in choir!
Clearly, after my experience this year, I highly recommend that you consider making the switch as well. And one more thing -- teaching SAB or SATB literature int he separate choirs and then combining for a concert works really well, and the singers learn the music a lot faster!
This year's DEACDA Rehoboth Beach Choral Workshop was a great success with more than 50 choral directors from the state and the region gathering at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Lewes.
With reading sessions for elementary, middle school, high school choirs and church musicians, the event strived to meet the diverse needs of choral musicians in Delaware. The headliner of the workshop, Stephen Holmes of the Maryland State Boychoir, focused on the developing mail voice, bringing six young male singers in various stages of vocal maturity to use as a demonstration ensemble. Even workshop attendees who don't work with singers of this age were able to learn methodologies to try with their choirs.
Next year's workshop dates with be June 11-12, 2015. Certificates for Clock Hours or PIP's are available upon request.
In the book, Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others, author Stacy Horn shares her love of singing and how, in a way, it saved her life. In this 13-minute Ted Talk, Stacy shares about her experience and how singing together in a group physically alters your body in a good way, increasing Oxytocin and Dopamine while decreasing Cortisol levels. In addition, though, Horn talks about the transcendent nature of singing together, how "When you sing a great piece of music... you become that great piece of music." And she says of the community effort of singing, "The fact that a masterpiece, like the Bach B Minor Mass, can only be achieved by intense cooperation bonds you. That kind of sustained effort, week after week after week regularly working through mistakes together all to create something beautiful, is the ultimate communion." I have found her book and the Ted Talk to be quite inspiring. I hope you will as well.
The Eastern Division of ACDA presented their biennial conference in Baltimore, February 5 – 8. Whether you’re a director of children’s choirs, middle or high school choirs, collegiate ensembles, community choirs, church choirs, or some other choral configuration, this conference offered a tremendous wealth of resources.
I have been active at the division level for eight years, chairing Auditioned Choirs for the Hartford (’08) and Philadelphia (’10) conferences, and chairing Interest Sessions for the Providence (’12) and Baltimore conferences. Wonderful choral performances and fascinating sessions by choral experts have been centerpieces for each of these conferences, and Baltimore certainly did not disappoint.
On Thursday and Friday, thirty-one Interest Sessions were given by leading choral musicians from throughout the Eastern Division and beyond. Thursday’s highlights included sessions focusing on:
Friday provided an equally interesting and diverse array of sessions. Highlights included sessions focusing on:
There were sixteen other fascinating interest sessions, and though it’s impossible to attend them all, many posted their materials on the conference app for free download.
Almost all sessions were very well attended and both participants and presenters seemed to really value the experience. Presenter Amy Beresik, who presented a session on teaching sight-singing to middle school singers said, “I can say this was one of the most enriching experiences of my career to date!” Presenter Steven Russell, who lead participants in an early-morning yoga session said, “I thought the variety of interest session topics was great!”
Choral performances included concerts presented by auditioned choirs, invited choirs, and honor choirs. Approximately thirty concerts were given during the four conference days. Among them:
One of the delights of attending a conference, whether it is a state, division or national event, is making connections with our colleagues. In many cases, this includes reconnecting with college classmates and past co-workers. In other cases, meeting new friends and developing relationships, perhaps sowing the seeds for future musical collaboration or professional opportunities.
I feel that most attendees emerged from this 4-day choral immersion feeling refreshed, recharged, motivated, and full of new concepts, skills, knowledge and ideas to try with your choirs. I sure enjoyed it! --Dave Lockart, President-Elect, DE ACDA
By Clint Williams, Chair - Performing Arts, Sanford School, Hockessin
At Sanford School, we have the entire "putting on a school musical" down to an art. We successfully produce a musical each year with few problems. Here are 5 things to keep in mind when producing a school musical:
1.Selecting the Musical - Be certain you can fill most roles with your current student population. It's okay to have one (or possibly two) roles that are question marks, but you should concretely be able to think of a few students for each role. Also, license the musical as early as possible. I'm constantly amazed at how many times I hear of the licensing companies declining a request or even pulling requests after they've first given the rights.
2.Auditions - We have found that having students sing songs from the musical during the audition process lessens their anxiety. This way the students only have a few songs to choose from rather than the intimidation of figuring out what song to sing on their own. We give each student an audition packet with the songs for each character (and ensemble). Additionally, we send out an email to the parents/students with audition tips -- ways to have a more successful audition.
3.Ticketing - After years of trying different ways of ticketing in-house (and it being very time-consuming for both me and the parent volunteers), we finally decided to go with an outside vendor. We now use Vendini. Although there is an initial set-up fee (and a per ticket charge), for us, this has been a huge positive step forward. We have no regrets and I am so happy we made this decision.
4.Parent Night - Early on in the process (after we finish our music rehearsals and as we are beginning our staging rehearsals), we invite the parents to come hear a couple selections from the show. The students are excited, the parents are excited, and then we ask the parents for help! I am so thankful to have lots of parent support; I never want for help in any area. This night is a great way to give the parents a small taste of what their children have been rehearsing and get everyone excited about the upcoming show.
5.Rehearsal Schedule - Make a definite rehearsal schedule and stick to it -- no matter what. Parents will bend over backwards for you if you communicate clearly with them from the beginning. It's also important not to keep the students past the stated end of rehearsal time.
BONUS TIP: I start an e-mail once a week - a draft. Then I add to it each day when I think of things I need to communicate to parents. At the end of the week, I have everything written down and just send out one email, instead of a flurry of multiple emails.
I hope you find these tips useful. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or other tips that make your school musical a success. You can also find this article on the Delaware ACDA website, where you can share your own musical tips.