January typically is a time for many of us to catch our breath. With the rush of the holiday season behind us, there is a sense of renewal with the new year, and an opportunity to examine our pedagogy before the schedule is again heavy with performances as the spring arrives.
Musicians/Conductors/Teachers (and we are all three in one!) constantly strive to improve on their performance and pedagogy. Self-reflection and critically examining what we do is part of our DNA. This occurs moment to moment in a rehearsal, as we formatively assess what we are hearing. It occurs on a deeper level as we reflect on the success of the last rehearsal we had as we plan for the next one. In this blog, I hope to pose questions that will instigate thinking and self-reflection pertaining to broad issues we face in working with our singers.
For instance, consider the question of gender inclusivity. As students are expressing varying gender identities earlier, and people of all ages are becoming more confident in outwardly expressing gender not conforming to binary choices, words matter. Using “Guys,” “Ladies,” “Men,” “Boys and Girls” is not as inclusive as “Choir,” “Sopranos (Altos, Tenors, Basses),” “6thGrade,” “Friends,” “Everyone,” or any other non-gendered term. It can take a little practice to accomplish this switch, but for that singer in your ensemble who is non-binary or questioning, it can mean a lot knowing that you are making the effort to change.
Take a moment to examine repertoire for “hidden curricula.” This applies to repertoire for all ages. Consider the text of “Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater” and what it implies, for example. If you were to switch the gender of an individual described in a lyric, would the lyric still be appropriate and acceptable?
Don’t know where to begin? Start simple! This article published by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD.org), Creating a Gender-Inclusive Classroom, provides some excellent starting points. Want to learn more? Genderspectrum.org has an extensive list of resources available on the web.
Let’s face it. Choral directors are busy people who are communicating on several different channels every minute of every day. More often than not, a well timed message while waiting in line at the grocery store is the one that gets the read and the response.
That’s why we’re building additional bridges through social media, hoping that a well-timed post featuring a teaser about the upcoming conference will entice you to click through and read more. And the best part is that you can share social media news with friends who aren’t (yet!) part of ACDA.
Get connected, and help us connect with your friends and colleagues who can benefit from all ACDA has to offer!
In a few days, we’ll be launching the application and award process for recipients of the Richard Kegerreis Scholarship Fund. Mr. Kegerreis is most remembered for his tireless energies in producing the quarterly newsletter, The Troubadour, which was heralded as one of the best ACDA publications in the country.
Today, the scholarship is largely funded by individual contributions in his memory, and in dedication to the mission of ACDA. Proceeds from the fund not only subsidize student workers at our conventions, but also assist honor choir members who would not otherwise be able to participate.
Your contributions are tax-deductible, and deeply meaningful not only to the scholarship recipients but to the future of our organization. Please consider making a gift today – a gift that will “keep on singing.”
The Helen Kemp Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2010 to honor an individual who made a unique and extraordinary contribution to the field of choral conducting within the Eastern Region. Helen Kemp, as you may know, inspired and empowered volunteers to be successful and effective children’s choir directors, and was seminal in the creation of Choristers Guild.
The Conference Planning Committee is currently accepting nominations for consideration for the Helen Kemp Award, to be presented in March at the Pittsburgh convention.
I send you warm greetings and tidings of great joy, as we officially launch EARLY REGISTRATION for the 2018 Eastern Regional (formerly Division) Convention to be held on March 7-10, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
I have learned a great deal about ACDA since assuming the role of Eastern Region President just over a year ago, not the least of which has to do with finalizing contracts with hotels, performance venues, and local vendors who, in the last place, provide the real backbone that will bear out whether a convention is “somewhat successful” or “inspiring and rejuvenating.” Seasoned choral directors know that the truly defining element of a meaningful musical experience is largely a result of everything that happened behind the scenes before the sound of the very first pitch. Sometimes I think music teachers would be better served with a degree in business administration than credentials in performance practice and score study.
But alas, I find myself reminiscent about so many of my experiences at various ACDA events. The first time I saw The Albert McNeil Singers or The King’s Singers, not to mention so many moments of serendipity when a choir you scarcely knew about delivers an awe-inspiring performance that goes right to the heart!
Your leadership team is well aware of the planning and finagling it takes for you to get time off work, let alone funding to attend a conference, which is why we’re working tirelessly not only to get the word out about early registration, but also to encourage our constituency to make a few days of rejuvenation and reacquaintance with professional colleagues and friends a top priority for 2018. In a profession where we are so frequently isolated by the nature our specialty, one cannot overestimate the community and support system that is ACDA.
In these coming weeks we will be cranking up the social media machine to bring our community together, and you can help with that by sharing and reposting on the various social media threads. I will say many times, beginning right now, that while Pittsburgh is a fabulous convention city, the savings of booking early cannot be overstated, unlike cities like Boston and New York where competition keeps fares low until the very last minute. To that end, we’ll be posting airfares regularly in an effort to urge you to BOOK NOW and save!
If you’re not already following us on Facebook (ACDA Eastern Division), Twitter (@acdaeast), and Instagram (acda_east), (Snapchat coming soon!) I encourage you to do so as we will soon begin posting brief teasers for what you’ll experience in Pittsburgh next March. How about that… something joyful to read on your newsfeed.
ELEMENTARY HONOR CHOIR Susan Brumfield, conductor A treble choir of singers who will be in grades 4, 5, or 6 in March 2018 Dr. Susan Brumfield is Professor of Music Education at Texas Tech University, and holds a Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Oklahoma. She is known throughout the United States and Europe as a clinician, consultant, author, composer, arranger and choral conductor. Dr. Brumfield is the author Jean Ritchie’s Kentucky Mother Goose, a book and CD memoir with American folk legend Jean Ritchie, which features rare and never-before-seen illustrations by Maurice Sendak. Other publications include Hot Peas and Barley-O: Children’s Songs and Games from Scotland and Over the Garden Wall: Children’s Songs and Games from England. Dr. Brumfield is currently working on Giro Giro Tondo: Children’s Songs and Games from Italy. She is a contributing author for John Jacobson’s Music Express Magazine and McGraw Hill’s Music Studio. An internationally recognized expert in the Kodály approach, Dr. Brumfield is the author of First, We Sing! Kodály-Inspired Teaching in the Music Classroom (Hal Leonard), a set of Kodály-based of curriculum and resource materials for K-5 music. This comprehensive series includes the Teacher’s Guide, Teaching Strategies for Primary Grades, Teaching Strategies for Intermediate Grades, Practice Activities for Rhythmic and Melodic Elements and First, We Sing: Songbooks One and Songbook Two. Forthcoming volumes include Songbook Three, Active Listening in the Music Classroom and Songs for Reading and Writing. Other ancillary materials include applications for interactive whiteboard, student workbooks and classroom materials. Founder and Artistic Director of The West Texas Children’s Chorus, Dr. Brumfield is also in frequent demand throughout the world as a commissioned composer and guest conductor. Her choral music is published with Hal Leonard Music, Colla Voce Music and BriLee/Carl Fischer, and includes more than forty titles. With four choirs consisting of singers from Kindergarten through college, the West Texas Children’s Chorus organization serves children throughout the South Plains area, and serves as a teaching lab for TTU Music Education students. In addition to performances with the Texas Tech University Choirs, the Lubbock Chorale and the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, the choirs have performed at the Texas Music Educators’ Conference, national conferences of the Organization of American Kodály Educators and the Amerian Orff Schulwerk Association, and has been featured in concerts at Carnegie Hall and other prestigious venues in NYC. The choir travels throughout the US on its bi- annual tours. Dr. Brumfield was honored in both 2012 and 2014 with the Texas Tech University College of Visual and Performing Arts Award for Outstanding Research, and as a two-time finalist for the President’s Book Award. In 2015, Dr. Brumfield was the recipient of the Louisiana Tech University Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award.
JUNIOR HIGH HONOR CHOIR Gary Packwood, conductor An SATB choir of singers who will be in grades 7, 8, or 9 in March 2018 Gary Packwood is the Program Administrator and Director of Choral Activities at Mississippi State University, where he oversees all administrative aspects, and conducts the Women of State and the MSU Singers. Dr. Packwood’s other duty includes serving as the Head of Music Education, and teaching conducting and secondary choral methods. Dr. Packwood has conducted a multitude of ensembles, through invitation, for the state, regional, and national conference for both the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and for the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). Through invitations, his choirs have also performed in some of Europe’s most distinct venues including Notre Dame Cathedral, Chatres Cathedral, La Madeleine Church, Sacra Coeur Church, The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, St. Nikolas and St. Stephen in Austria, and St. Nicholas Church in The Czech Republic. A Lifetime member of ACDA, Dr. Packwood has served in numerous positions in NAfME and ACDA, and is currently the President-elect of Southern Division ACDA. A frequent guest conductor, Dr. Packwood has served in this function for all-state and honor choirs in 28 states and on three continents. Internationally he has served as guest conductor and lecturer for the 2013 and 2010 Festival Internacional de Musica at the Universidade Federal de Campina Grande, Brazil; the 2009 Visiting Professor of Music and Conducting at Sultan Idris Education University in Tanjung Malim; Aswara Conservatory of Music in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 2007 artist-in- residence and guest conductor at the Conservatory of Music – University of Uberlandia, Brazil; and 2006 Festival Internacional de Musica at the Universidad Federal de Piaui, Brazil. He is a member of Golden Key International Honour Society, Phi Mu Alpha and Pi Kappa Lambda. Dr. Packwood is currently a Choral Review author for the Choral Journal and his own articles have been published in MENC’s journal, Teaching Music, and the 2ndEdition of the AmeriGrove Dictionary. Dr. Packwood earned the Bachelor of Music Education degree from Southeastern Louisiana University, the Master of Arts degree from Florida Atlantic University, and Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from Louisiana State University.
WOMEN COMPOSERS REPERTOIRE HONOR CHOIR Sharon Paul, conductor An SSAATTBB choir of singers who will be in grades 11 or 12 or college in March 2018, or adults Sharon J. Paul is Professor of Choral Conducting, Director of Choral Activities, and Chair of Vocal and Choral Studies at the University of Oregon, where she teaches graduate courses in choral conducting, repertoire, and pedagogy, and conducts the University Singers and the internationally award-winning Chamber Choir. Dr. Paul has presented interest sessions at regional, state, division, national, and international music conferences and appears frequently as adjudicator, clinician, and honor choir director throughout the United States, with recent engagements in Utah, Washington, Nevada, California, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Georgia. In the fall of 2014 she received the University of Oregon’s Fund for Faculty Excellence Award, and in 2015 she was named the Robert M. Trotter Chair of Music, one of only three endowed chairs at the University of Oregon’s School of Music and Under her direction, the University of Oregon’s Chamber Choir has garnered international acclaim in recent years. In May, 2015, the Chamber Choir was one of 10 choirs worldwide invited to compete at the 14th International Chamber Choir Competition in Marktoberdorf, Germany, where they received second prize overall, won a special prize for the best interpretation of the compulsory work, and were the only student group to achieve a Level I recognition for an “excellent performance at the international level.” Previously the Chamber Choir won First Prize at the 2013 Fleischmann International Trophy Competition at the Cork International Choral Festival in Cork, Ireland. In their first international tour they took top honors in two categories at the 2011 Tallinn International Choral Festival in Tallinn, Estonia. In the summer of 2017 the Chamber Choir will tour Spain, culminating with an appearance at the World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona. Dr. Paul served as Artistic Director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) and conductor of Chorissima and Virtuose, the organization’s acclaimed performance ensembles, from 1992 to July 2000. Under her leadership, the chorus released four compact discs, premiered major works by composers such as Chen Yi and Jake Heggie, represented the United States at four international festivals, and performed at the California Music Educators’ state conference, the American Choral Directors’ Western Division conference, and the International Society for Music Education’s international conference. In June 2000 the SFGC was the first youth chorus to win the Margaret Hillis Achievement Award for Choral Excellence, a national honor presented by Chorus America. In the same year they were also awarded an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming.
HIGH SCHOOL HONOR CHOIR David Fryling, conductor An SSAATTBB choir of singers who will be in grades 10, 11, or 12 in March 2018 David Fryling (www.DavidFryling.org) is director of choral activities at Hofstra University, where he conducts both the select Hofstra Chorale and Hofstra Chamber Choir and teaches beginning and advanced studies in choral conducting, as well as graduate-level studies in choral conducting and choral literature. In addition, he serves as an adjunct professor for the Hofstra School of Education, where he supervises choral music education student teachers during their field placements. In fall 2014 David was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame as the “Educator of Note” in recognition of his years of leadership in the Long Island music education community, and in the fall of 2016 David was named a semi-finalist in both college/university and community chorus divisions of The American Prize in Choral Conducting. An energetic and engaging conductor, clinician, and adjudicator of professional, community, and high school choirs, David’s recent invitations include various all-state and regional honor choirs, master classes, workshops, and adjudications throughout New York and in New Jersey , Vermont (New England Music Festival), Connecticut, Rhode Island , Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Michigan, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Utah and Alaska. He has also been music director and conductor of Hofstra Opera Theater productions of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Chaikovsky’s Iolanta, and Poulenc’s Dialogues Des Carmelites, and has served since 2014 as a guest artist on the conducting faculty of the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) School of Choral Studies in Fredonia, NY. In fall 2013 David founded the eVoco Voice Collective (www.evoco.vc), a nonprofit organization of singers of the highest musical, technical, and expressive abilities, who together believe in the transformative and educational power of music. Passionate advocates for excellence in the vocal art, eVoco presents choral performances and recitals of the highest caliber throughout the year. The group’s two main ensembles, the Mixed Ensemble and the Women’s Ensemble, have an “open door” policy for all rehearsals, and teachers and students of music, especially, are encouraged to “sit in” throughout the process, in the hope that the groups’ weekly work together will serve as a continual learning space for students, educators, and music enthusiasts alike. For seven summers, David served as coordinator of the Vocal Artists program at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, where he was conductor and music director of the World Youth Honors Choir and Festival Choir & Orchestra. These two choirs formed the core of the high school choral experience at this intensive six-week arts camp, and under his direction they performed large-scale works including Brahms’ Nänie, Pärt’s Credo, Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Gershwin’s An American in Paris, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Duruflé’s Requiem, Poulenc’s Gloria, and Mozart’s Mass in C (“Coronation”). Before his appointment at Hofstra, David served as music director and conductor of the University of Michigan Arts Chorale and assistant conductor of the Michigan Chamber Singers, University Choir, and the internationally acclaimed Michigan Men’s Glee Club. While in Ann Arbor, he was also the music director and conductor of the Michigan Youth Women’s Chorus, a year- round all-state honors choir composed of select high school sopranos and altos from across Michigan. In addition to his professional teaching and conducting responsibilities, David has served the American Choral Directors Association for many years, and is currently Vice President of the Eastern Division. When not on the podium, he enjoys freelancing as a professional choral tenor in the greater New York metropolitan area.
Being a long time jazz fan, and firmly believing that jazz is America’s music and we need to teach it, I began a search years ago to find choral repertoire suitable for children and youth choirs. ACDA has long had a Jazz R&S committee, and I always tried to attend the reading sessions, but often came up empty handed. While there were frequently a few treble voiced pieces included in the wonderful repertoire they presented, the orientation was typically more towards older voices, with topics that were, shall we say, not terribly appealing to kids. (I don’t know many children who really care to sing about lost romance, often the subject of some of the best jazz repertoire!) Many of the arrangements were too complex. Or, repertoire thatwas dubbed a “jazz” arrangement was often dumbed down and had little jazz left in it, particularly in the accompaniment.
So I began writing my own arrangements as a solution. Gradually, I found a few other composers who seemed to also understand how to write for young voices, how to select songs to arrange that kids would love to sing, and how to write accompaniments that sounded like jazz. Interested in learning more about how to getyour young singers introduced to jazz? Please join me at my “Jazz Choral Music for Kids!” session on Saturday, February 13! We will have a reading packet of repertoire, and you will be singing and scatting your way through the session. I will be presenting ideas to get even your youngest singers started, methods to help them understand the language of jazz aka scat, and a variety of music of different levels of difficulty. And, you will have fun!
Not comfortable with the genre, but curious? Even more reason to come! Be there or be square!
Dr. Joy Hirokawa is Assistant Professor of Music Education at Moravian College (Bethlehem, PA) and the Founder and Artistic Director of The Bel Canto Children’s Chorus. Under her direction, the choir has appeared on ACDA, NAfME, and PMEA conferences, and has traveled internationally. Dr. Hirokawa is a frequent guest conductor and clinician, presenting regularly at ACDA, NAfME and PMEA conferences and conducting numerous honor choirs nationally. Her published arrangements include her jazz arrangement of “Lullaby of Birdland,” recently included Voices in Concert, the new choral text published by McGraw-Hill and Hal Leonard, and “My Favorite Things,” featured on numerous honor choir programs. Her newest jazz arrangement for young voices is “Accentuate the Positive,” available from Hal Leonard. She is the current ACDA Eastern Division Repertoire and Standards Chair for Children and Youth. Dr. Hirokawa taught in the public schools for 20 years prior to her appointment at Moravian College.