Notes from the 2013 ACDA Dallas Conference

Alice Cavanaugh
Two-Year College Choirs R&S Chair

At the 2013 ACDA Dallas Conference, I presented an interest session entitled Recruitment, Retention, and Repertoire for Two-Year College Choirs. Risk factors for college dropouts were examined and through this a retention plan was developed. This retention plan focused on connecting choir members to student services, creating an advisor/advisee relationship with the students, and fostering camaraderie between the singers. Recruiting was examined on both a micro level (posters, word of mouth, Facebook) and a macro level (removing barriers to repeat enrollment such as time the course is offered, registration restrictions, and financial aid barriers).In addition, Dianna Campbell, R&S National Chair for Two-Year Choirs, led a roundtable discussion. Between the interest session and at the roundtable, the following suggestions were shared:


  1. Invite a local high school choir to perform with your group
  2. Petition to make choir count towards the general education (core curriculum) courses
  3. Hold ensemble scholarship auditions
  4. Flash mob
  5. Use entrance and exit surveys


  1. Require all prospective music majors to schedule their classes with a member of the music faculty.
  2. Pass “good news” stick: At the start of each rehearsal, have each singer share a piece of good news
  3. A choir retreat early in the semester
  4. Have the students attend a concert together
  5. Do a community service project with the choir
  6. Perform off campus to build camaraderie
  7. Have an end-of-semester awards ceremony
  8. Use a collaborative learning seating chart


  1. When resources limit the ability to perform choral/orchestral works, consider combing forces with a symphonic band or wind ensemble.
  2. Combining forces with a local 4 year college or community choir.

A highlight of the conference was the outstanding and inspiring performance by the Mount San Antonio Chamber Singers (a community college in California) under the direction of Bruce Rogers. In his Inside the Mind of the Conductor ssession, Mr. Rogers expressed the importance of instilling a sense of personal responsibility in his students. He emphasized the importance of legacy and the Mount San Antonio singers in attendance at the session reported feeling pride in belonging to a choir with a strong tradition of excellence.