JANUARY 2012 $5.00
Choral Directors of
Renewable Energy Francisco Núñez
and the Young People's Chorus
Roundtable: Choir Camps Survey: Singers with Special Needs Repertoire Forum: Baroque
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Cover photo by Stephanie Berger, New York City, N.Y. Choral Director® Volume 9, Number 1, is published six times annually by Symphony Publishing, LLC, 21 Highland Circle, Suite 1, Needham, MA 02494 (781)453-9310, publisher of School Band and Orchestra, Musical Merchandise Review, Music Parents America and JAZZed. All titles are federally registered trademarks and/or trademarks of Symphony Publishing, LLC. Subscription Rates: $20 one year; $30 two years. Rates outside U.S.A. available upon request. Singles issues $5 each. Resource Guide $15 Standard Postage Paid at Boston, MA and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER/SUBSCRIBERS: Send address change to Choral Director, 21 Highland Circle, Suite 1, Needham MA 02494. The publishers of this magazine do not accept responsibility for statements made by their advertisers in business competition. No portion of this issue may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher.Copyright © 2012 by Symphony Publishing, LLC, all rights reserved. Printed in USA.
2 Choral Director, January 2012
ROUNDTABLE: CHOIR CAMP CD checks in with a handful of experts who share best practices for educators in setting up and running a choir camp.
UPCLOSE: FRANCISCO NÚÑEZ Founder of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and recent MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” recipient Francisco Núñez discusses his mission to unite children of all backgrounds and better communities through choral music.
REPORT: CHORAL DIRECTORS OF NOTE The seventh annual “Choral Directors of Note” report highlights 11 outstanding vocal music educators from across the country.
SURVEY: SPECIAL NEEDS This recent reader survey explores integrating students with special needs into school vocal music groups.
REPERTOIRE FORUM: BAROQUE CD contributor John C. Hughes recommends Baroque music in a variety of voicings for school choral groups.
he phrase “life-changing phone call” rarely brings positive imagery to mind. However, if that phone call comes from the MacArthur Foundation, it could be that quite pleasant news is in store. Every year, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation surprises a handful of creative, inspirational, innovative individuals with a phone call informing them that they have been named MacArthur Fellows. A MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a “genius grant,” includes a no-strings-attached gift of $500,000, paid out in installments over a five-year period. And the recipients rarely have any idea they’ve been selected until they receive a seemingly out-of-theblue phone call. Among the 22 MacArthur Fellows in 2011 were architects, economists, scientists, professors, a former U.S. poet laureate, and a choral director, Francisco Núñez. Núñez is the founder of the Young People’s Chorus (YPC) of New York City, a program designed to bring children from all ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds together to make and learn about music. A central goal of the YPC was to use this ensemble as a model of artistic excellence and humanity that enriches the com“I feel like I have munity. Since its founding in 1988, the YPC has grown to an opportunity include over 1,200 children each year, ages seven to 18, and the caliber of music they’ve achieved is astounding. The YPC here and a chal- is a regular at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie lenge to figure Hall, and has appeared numerous times on shows like Good out something Morning America, The Today Show, and the award-winning PBS series, From the Top at Carnegie Hall, in addition to really great.” countless national and international tours. As if that weren’t enough, the Young People’s Chorus has rejuvenated the literature for children’s choirs through an ambitious series of commissions from some of the top composers in choral music today. Upon receiving that fateful phone call, “I was dumbfounded, I actually cried,” said Núñez, according to a September 2011 story in the Wall Street Journal. “I get this call from a gentleman. He tells me to tell whoever I’m with to leave and go into a private room. Next thing I know I have to sit down at my desk. I started shaking.” The article continues, “I feel like I have an opportunity here and a challenge to figure out something really great.” In this issue’s cover story, Núñez declares: “I always knew our music would be great. That was never truly my first mission, though. My first mission was to bring these kids together and use music as a means of allowing children to understand themselves better and become stronger.” Aside from the laudable and inspiring work that has already happened in the YPC, a genius grant isn’t exactly a reward for one’s already-noted accomplishments. In the aforementioned Wall Street Journal article, MacArthur Foundation president Robert Gallucci elaborates on this idea, stating, “We hope we’re giving these people an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have to pursue their area or interest and let that spirit that has driven them to be free to accomplish more in the future. We’re aiming here at the future.” And with people like Francisco Núñez leading the way, the future of children’s choral music is bright indeed.
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HeadLines Joplin High Singers Win $25,000
avaged by tornadoes last summer, Missouri’s Joplin High School Vocal Music Department was recently selected as winners in the Glee Give a Note Contest, presented by Twentieth Century Fox Television, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and its new Give a Note Foundation. The Glee Give a Note campaign plans to distribute $1 million nationwide in grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 designed to relieve struggling music programs. Thousands of students across the country created video submissions for an open call for entries in September. In October, the eligible entries were posted on www. GleeGiveANote.com for public vote for one month. A panel composed of NAfME members conducted a final round of judging and, together with the public vote, determined the winning programs. The stated mission of the Give a Note Foundation is to expand and increase music education opportunities for all children, especially those in low-wealth and underserved areas of America. To learn more, visit www.giveanote.org
Kate Nash Expands After-School Program to Develop Female Songwriters
latinum-selling singer Kate Nash, who has already established six after-school music programs, is set expand her bold program designed to encourage young women as songwriters. Nash, a Brit Award winner, leapt into action last year after learning that only 14 percent of the 75,000 members of the British Performing Rights Society, which collects and pays songwriting royalties in Britain, is female. Her organization, the Rock ‘n’ Roll for Girls After-School Music Club, was set up as a free program for her to shop around to schools across the country. Nash has said that she fears the influence of popular talent shows like The X Factor in only encouraging performers to sing cover songs, as well as sex-object images perpetrated by singers like Rihanna.
Guangzhou Symphonie Orchestra to Participate in Xinghai Choir Fest
n Guangzhou, China, host of the 1st Xinghai Prize International Choir Championships next November, it was recently announced that Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra will participate in the event’s Opening. It will also accompany the International Festival Choir at the Closing concert. More information on the course of the Opening ceremony is reportedly on the way in March 2012. Guangzhou will welcome choirs with a repertoire including different styles of music. The 1st Xinghai Prize International Choir Championship will be November 8-14, 2012. To learn more, visit www.xinghai.interkultur.com.
4 Choral Director, January 2012
From Show Choir to Acapella to Traditional Choir, vocal groups who take part in a Disney Performing Arts program — whether that’s in a performance or in a workshop or festival — share a common bond. And now, Disney Performing Arts is celebrating this bond and commemorating
this once-in-a-lifetime experience with an exclusive badge of honor. So, if you think your vocal group has Ears for the Arts, then there is no better time to plan your next Disney Performing Arts trip. For more information, contact your travel planner or call toll-free 1-800-951-8254.
Disney Youth Programs
CDRoundtable: Choir Camp
Making Choir Camp a Success
ummertime choir camps run by school music programs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are just a few hours of singing and introductions on a single day. Others can be a week or longer, with educators, staff, and students brushing
up on choral skills and bonding in relative seclusion. While the circumstances of each school, educator, and group of students will dictate the appropriate duration, location, and content of a summer choral camp, there are a number of underlying factors that, when properly considered, can contribute to a fun and effective choir camp experience.
“Recruiting is essential to a successful camp,” says Ryan Marsh, the choral director at Lafayette High School in Lexington, Kentucky, who has been running a choir camp at his high school for the past eight years. “I can’t overstate the importance of this. It is important to have a good number of kids so they are able to perform a finished product at the end of the week. Recruit men so a 6 Choral Director, January 2012
good balance is achieved. Recruit singers individually that will help make the camp a success. Recruit upperclassmen for leadership within sections. More students attending makes for a more robust sound and there is synergy that a large group brings.” Steve Lorenz of Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan has run camps ranging from several hours to overnight camps that are a week or more in length. Each type of camp has different benefits and merits depending on what the students and community can accommodate, but the key is finding the right length that will enable the most people to participate. “Rather than have a multiple day or overnight event, I started out by doing a single day camp to maximize the student turnout,” he says. “One of the overarching goals at the beginning of the year is to set a good tone with the students and to allow the upperclassmen to help welcome new students and set the goals for the years. Regardless of the length, the higher the turnout, as far as the percentage of students, the better the opportunity to have more carryover. You’re trying to build buy-in from the students, get them engaged in the process, and get them acclimated to the routines and expectations of the program.” Michael Gaffney is the choral director and Arts Department chair at Baltimore, Maryland’s Archbishop Curley High School, where he founded the choral program in 1997. The “essential ingredients” to success that he cites focus on scheduling and staffing. “A well thought out, minute-by-minute schedule must be published to all participants, staff and choristers, and, thereafter, must be carefully followed,” he advises. “The second ingredient is a well-trained staff, thoroughly versed in the goals and procedures of the camp. Staff members must be models for the choristers.”
students, but have a variety of pieces and difficulty levels. If you have recruited strong leaders you can count on, this beGaffney’s camps are generally repcomes easier.” ertoire-focused, with an emphasis on As for the specifics of the technique, skills such as sight-singing, vocal techMarsh uses Kodaly solfege syllables nique, and interpretation. “This means to aid in sight reading and in learning that choristers are expected virtually all of their music. to leave choir camp with “During vocal camp, we ofthe ability to perform new ten learn four or five of the literature, but also with new pieces on solfege,” he notes. or refreshed choral skills,” “So we spend part of the he says. “Sometimes a choir first day teaching students to camp might even be focused write in solfege syllables and on a specific aspect of choral using it in rehearsal. We also craft, such as sight singing or use the camp to teach our Allenhanced vocal range, using State audition piece to give Michael Gaffney full group, small group, and students a head start. Each individual sessions designed morning we use extended to enhance this focus.” warm-up time like a group voice class to Ryan Marsh also has specific goals teach vocal techniques as related to posregarding skills and technique that he ture, breathing, tone, and so on.” hopes to demonstrate, and that starts with choosing repertoire. “I try to choose a variety of repertoire that is of high quality and will challenge students – accessible yet challenging,” he says. “Foreign language (Latin excluded) pieces are great fun and offer a good challenge, especially in pieces with fast tempi. I always choose one very fast foreign language piece – the more obscure language, the better. I also limit popular or show tune selections to one or none. It may be difficult to predict the ability level, especially with many new
Staffing Bringing in the right amount of staffers and counselors, and finding knowledgeable and trustworthy individuals, can be a huge relief for the choral director running the show. “Be sure to hire enough adult help,” advises Ryan Marsh. “This might include private voice teachers, hired section leaders, assistant directors, and/or accompanists. Bring back former students who might now be studying music or music educa-
tion to give them an opportunity to lead sectionals, vocalizes, and do some teaching. Involve newly graduated seniors to be student section leaders. We hire one recently graduated senior in each section, in addition to any college students serving as section leaders. We pay them each $100. It’s a good idea to involve parents in organizing and delivering food, taking money, registration, and so on. Having extra people around is good practice and makes life easier for the directors. One director should not do it all.” Steve Lorenz starts his search for help early. “I start securing cabin counselors in January or February, as soon as we’ve nailed down dates for the summer,” he says. “Most of the counselors are alumni of my choral program, although not necessarily music majors or professional musicians. However, they’re all people who have kept music in their lives in some way, and that serves as a really good for our high school students, most of whom will not pursue music professionally.”
Work vs. Play One challenge directors must decide is the balance between choral activities and other forms of recreation or teambuilding activities. “It’s always a hard balance for the kids,” confirms Lorenz. “When the kids walk out of the end of
Choral Director, January 2012 7
students are doing matters a lot als, and we have some nonto the students, and finding that structured downtime in the balance is really key to keeping middle of the day to give them everyone engaged.” a chance to rest, hang out, and “Set up a good schedule that participate in other activities or gives structure, yet allows for whatever they want to do. For flexibility if needed as the week us, we do a morning rehearsal, progresses,” suggests Marsh. a post-lunch rehearsal, and a “Allow for sectional time and post-dinner rehearsal. After Steve Lorenz social time. We provide a lunch the post-dinner rehearsal, it’s all hour that allows student to be supervised structured downtime until lights out that but have social time. If a gym is nearby, evening. Varying the format and what the consider providing free time in the gym or outside. We also schedule in group games or other group activities. Great activities include getting-to-know-you, leadership, and trust games. Have a designated activities director or spread out the responsibilities to multiple people. However, don’t advertise ‘Game Time’ Once in a Lifetime Experience on the schedule to the students. Make it a surprise and vary the length so if you need more rehearsal time, you can shorten game time without disappointment.”
camp, it’s important that they’ve made musical strides and that we’ve established a foundation for learning. But that means that it has to be a positive experience. So it can’t be all rehearsal, all sectional, all music theory, or all sight reading all the time. I set out by selecting repertoire which is manageable within the time frame and then spacing our rehearsals so they last a maximum of about an hour and fifteen minutes. We have breaks, we change the format between section-
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To borrow a tired phrase from a popular shoe company, the bottom line with choir camps is to simply make it happen. “I’d say definitely do it,” urges Lorenz. “I have never had a bad experience, and I’ve never received negative feedback about the overall experience. Everyone always walks away with a very positive experience. Students want a musical experience, but they’re also very interested in the social element, as well. Giving students an opportunity to sit and eat together, to sing together, and to play together creates a great team environment. Start with a three-hour retreat. If that works out, make a day-long event. From there, go to an overnight, and keep building until you have something that you feel really works for you and your group. Students find it incredibly beneficial.” The benefits of choir camp will resonate all year long. “Choir camps are a crucial building block for a choral program,” agrees Gaffney. “Not only do they provide additional, uninterrupted time for rehearsal and ancillary instruction, but also for the essential ‘bonding’ that must take place in a successful ensemble. Although choir camps involve a great deal of work if they are to be successful, the ultimate benefit far outweighs the initial investment of time and effort!”
Now Recruiting High School Choruses Weill Music Institute
National High School Choral Festival April 17â€“20, 2013
We are now recruiting high school choruses for a one-of-a-kind experience guided by leading choral director Kent Tritle that culminates in a performance of Mozartâ€™s Requiem at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Lukeâ€™s and world-renowned conductor John Nelson. Ć€Ç‡Ç‡)Ç‡*,.##*.#)(Ç‡ Ć€Ç‡Ç‡,) --#)(&Ć?0&)*'(.Ç‡1%(Ç‡#(Ç‡1Ç‡),%Ç‡ #.3Ç‡ ),Ç‡*,.##*.#(!Ç‡"),&Ç‡#,.),Ć€Ç‡Ç‡Ç‡0#-#.Ç‡.)Ç‡3)/,Ç‡-"))&Ç‡3Ç‡(.Ç‡,#.&Ç‡ ),Ç‡Ç‡ '#Ć?3,Ç‡,",-&
Ć€Ç‡Ç‡",Ç‡3-Ç‡) Ç‡#(.(-#0Ç‡1),%Ç‡#(Ç‡1Ç‡),%Ç‡#.3Ç‡ *,#),Ç‡.)Ç‡."Ç‡ĹŚÇ‡(&Ç‡)(,. Ć€Ç‡Ç‡(Ç‡)**),./(#.3Ç‡ ),Ç‡"Ç‡"),/-Ç‡.)Ç‡*, ),'Ç‡ĹąĹ°Ç‡ '#(/.-Ç‡) Ç‡#.-Ç‡)1(Ç‡,*,.)#,Ç‡.Ç‡,(!#Ç‡&&
Ć† Ç‡"0Ç‡(0,Ç‡(Ç‡#(0)&0Ç‡#(Ç‡Ç‡'),Ç‡!,.# 3#(!Ç‡),Ç‡2#.#(!Ç‡,.#-.#Ç‡(Ç‡/.#)(&Ç‡2*,#'(.Ç‡) Ç‡ (3Ç‡%#(Ć’*,#)Ć‚Ć‡Ć’Ç‡),'(Ç‡ %(4#ĹťÇ‡Ĺ˛Ĺ°ĹąĹ°Ć‘Ĺ˛Ĺ°ĹąĹąÇ‡ -.#0&Ç‡#,.),Ç‡) Ç‡"),/-The Carnegie Hall National High School Choral Festival is made possible, in part, by endowment gifts from S. Donald Sussman and the Citi Foundation.
Application Deadline: April 2, 2012
carnegiehall.org/HSChoralFestival | firstname.lastname@example.org | 212-903-9625
Renewa Francisco Núñez Develops New
The Young People’s Chorus performs at a Transient Glory concert. (Stephanie Berger)
10 Choral Director, Januaey 2012
able Energy Masterpieces with Young Singers from All Over the Map By Matt Parish Much has been made in the contemporary music world of the recent push toward so-called “alt-classical” – creative approaches to showcase, perform, and commission new works of music that utilize new instrumentation, new venues, and new composers. A premium has been placed on opening up fresh audiences and unexplored formats. The world of classical music is getting smaller and smaller, so the search for alternative resources is on. Choral Director, January 2012 11
New York native and pioneering choral director Fransico Núñez has found what might be the most alternative resource yet: the children’s choir. Núñez is the founder of the Young People’s Chorus, a New York-based music education organization that has gained widespread attention by assembling world-class choirs from diverse neighborhoods. The 46-yearold mastermind mixes kids of as many different cultural and economic backgrounds as he can and winds up with some of the most unique ensembles in the world. They not only develop jaw-
program of 120 students to a sprawling enterprise with over 1,200 students and has gained renown for its presentations of everything from Bach to Meredith Monk pieces, and has even served as a vehicle for Núñez’s own compositions. In the process, they’ve won awards like the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, Chorus America’s Education Outreach Award, and two Chorus America/ ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming. Since first performing at the World Choir Symposium in Japan,
I wanted to do it the way I had it when I was young. How can I create a program where I combine the rich and the poor, the black and the white, Hispanics and Christians and Jews, all together, and create a very sophisticated music program?
dropping performances of established classics, they also premier incredible new work through their own commission series, Transient Glory, which has already commissioned over 60 pieces. The whole thing has earned Núñez accolades worldwide. Last fall, he was awarded the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant for his work. The YPC has grown from a small after-school
they’ve been invited back three times. This February, the YPC plays host at Carnegie Hall for its Transient Glory Symposium and Carnegie Hall Choral Symposium, designed to bring together choral directors from all over the country. Not bad for a group of kids who, were it not for Núñez, might never even have a chance to meet each other.
In 1990, Núñez teaching his first chorus. (Courtesy Francisco Núñez) 12 Choral Director, January 2012
That kids are learning from each other and pushing each other into new levels of skill is what Núñez might call his dream come true. “I always knew our music would be great,” he says. “That was never truly my first mission, though. My first mission was to bring these kids together and use music as a means of allowing children to understand themselves better and become stronger.” Choral Director spoke with Núñez recently after a very busy holiday season about his outstanding achievements so far and the group’s ambitious plans for the future. Choral Director: What’s your early background as a musician? Francisco Núñez: I always had music because of my mother. She was a working class woman. She had two boys to take care of but really wanted to be a professional. Even though we were poor, she wanted arts to be in our lives so she purchased a piano. By the time I was six years old, I had started playing. I started to be able to learn things very quickly and learned how to read. Soon I was concertizing throughout the neighborhood. What the piano did was give me an outlet to meet children of means. There were not a lot of poor kids playing the piano. There were a lot of rich kids. But my mother made me practice, too. It was better to go home and practice than to be in the street. What happened in the street was dangerous. In high school, I’d practice around five hours a day. It opened up a whole dif-
ferent world. It showed you that if you put your mind to something, it can actually get better. It was inspirational. CD: So after you graduated school, after having studied to become a pianist, what was the turning point for you? When did you decide your career would be so wrapped up in kids singing? FN: When I was in college, I was a piano major and I told my guidance counselor, “I never want to teach. I want to play.” She said, “If only you’d try to teach, you might actually end up getting a job.” I said, “No.” I was young. She told me to do some student teaching. So I did one stint at student teaching and I saw this man named Jerry Kerlin in the Lower East Side. He was a white guy and he was teaching in the daytime through the public school systems – black and Latino children – and on the weekends, he’d teach the children of means, which were mainly white children at that point. He taught them not just how to sing songs – he was teaching them to read music and understand music in their own way. Once we get those kids together, it doesn’t matter. They don’t care who the person next to them is other than the fact that they’re important. So that was the turning point. I was 22 years old, and that’s what I decided I wanted to do. It was an approach that helped me and changed my life when I was young. If I had just stayed in my neighborhood with the people that I knew, I would have been limited. CD: What was your first job trying to put that into action? FN: I got job at Children’s Aid Society, which is sort of like the Boys and Girls Club of America. I went to them and said I’d love to start a music program for them. They said they didn’t need that, but they did need someone to pick children up after school and bring them here and work with them. So I’d pick the kids up, take them to the program, we’d play chess, we’d play basketball, and we did our homework. A couple weeks in, I said, “Hey, do you guys want to sing a song?” So that’s when I started the whole program.
I didn’t want to separate them. I wanted to do it the way I had it when I was young. How can I create a program where I combine the rich and the poor, the black and the white, Hispanics and Christians and Jews, all together, and create a very sophisticated music program? It was two important factors – a high level of musicality and multiculturalism and diversity. “I don’t want to only work with the kids from Greenwich Village,” I said. “Can I go visit your other community centers and try to bring them all together?” They had two community centers in Black Harlem, one in Spanish Harlem, one in a very rich neighborhood in the Upper East Side and one in a middle class part of the Lower West Side. So I got some busses and started bringing the kids and that’s how I started the chorus, which at that time was called the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, which was very successful. In 1996, we went to Prague for a competition with all these “ragamuffins” and the New York Times wrote a story about these underdogs going to an international competition. Well, we came back winning the competition. The New York Times again writes an article about that. So I wanted to go independent. CD: So here it must have been key to get help from the right people. FN: My old teacher Seymour Bernstein talked to another of his piano students, who was director of the School of Music, Mark Riggleman, at the 92nd Street Y, so that we’d be invited to perform there. Being that we were a multicultural program definitely helped. I also brought my friends together – about 15 men and women – and created a board of directors. They would help with the financial structure of the YPC. So it took some working on my part to put all the pieces into place. That’s where we started. 1997 was our first rehearsal. By then we had about 120 kids or so. So now we have 1,200, but the concept has never changed – diversity and musical excellence. CD: Is it challenging to maintain the cultural diversity as the program grows?
FN: The social work mission is very strong. With diversity, you have the entire array of challenges. People who are poor have very different needs. Other people can never really understand it – it’s something you have to work to understand. It’s much harder to maintain diversity than it is to sing a Bach motet. It’s much harder to keep children engaged who come from a very difficult background, and that’s what we do. It’s my mission to do that. I always knew our music would be great. That was never truly my first mission. My first mission was to bring these kids together and use music as a means of allowing children to understand themselves better and become stronger. The only way that society can understand itself is to find benchmarks. How are other kids doing this? If you’re comparing yourself only to the kid next door, then you’re using a very small area. CD: It’s very interesting that you assign so many different types of music – different kids can be experts by virtue of their own cultural backgrounds. FN: Exactly. I mean, to the kid that grew up with Swahili, singing in Hebrew is fine – you’ll learn it. You might even hear a rhythm there that’s sweet. But do you understand what it is being Jewish? Do you understand what the song really means? Or can you ask the kid right next to you? He’s been sitting with you for several months and speaks it with authenticity, with a good accent coming from a particular part of the culture. You can finally understand why the song is important and things like what Hannukkah and Passover are about. Or if you’re a Jewish kid, sure you can learn a little Swahili – learn the phonetics and learn the words and hear about Kwanza, but being next to a kid that lives with it every day – you can ask what it’s like. You see their parents coming in, what they look like, how they dress, what they eat. You start to realize that there are different dialects of Swahili and different accents of Swahili. Holy cow, that song is completely different to you now. By having all those cultures together right Choral Director, January 2012 13
there, when you sing Swahili it’s very different. It’s very social. And they all get proud. CD: It seems so built to succeed in New York – how do you adjust to make the satellite program work in a place like Erie, PA. which can’t possibly have the same sort of diversity, can it? FN: Erie is a very divided city. There’s a railroad track in the middle and one type of people on one side and another on the other side. Erie’s concept was that they’d work very hard at combining those children – to bring them together. That’s why we did this. We have another program in New Jersey, which is part of the JCC – the Jewish Cultural Center. They’re putting together kids from all economic backgrounds. They have 90 children. So there are two very basic pilots that we’ve got going. Now I’m working on creating YPCs in other places in America and other countries. The first country that approached me was Japan. I started to do workshops in Japan with the children there, where I found a need in bringing children of diverse economic backgrounds togeth-
er. It’s not just about color. It’s about money, really. CD: The most recent development is in the Dominican Republic, right? FN: We put together a proposal that was accepted by the Dominican First Lady to create a choral system based around using choral music to bring diverse neighborhoods together. It’s our goal over the next five years to have the Young People’s Chorus of Santo Domingo – all of the people of Santo Domingo put together so that they can represent the Republic of Santo Domingo to the rest of the world. CD: Have there been surprising results from the YPC for you? FN: The biggest surprise is that it’s
actually working. When kids leave YPC, they’re so comfortable in other communities that they start to seek out diversity. That is to me the most beautiful thing. Many kids become music majors, they study music, they become singers and want to become conductors – the whole thing. That, to me, is going to happen in any choral environment.
If you can take anyone and create an existence of music, then you changed society because that person begins a generation. You’ve got to start somewhere.
Núñez conducts the YPC on tour in Japan. (Courtesy MinOn Concert Association) 14 Choral Director, January 2012
But I don’t want to just be a teacher. I want to make a difference inside. That is what I’m seeing is happening. I’ve seen so many of my students who are not music majors, but when they find themselves in a place that’s inhibiting their thought process about other people, they’re not happy to be there and they’ll walk away. We have a huge problem in this area in the choral world. I think a respect comes because, musically speaking, we’re able to succeed. But, quietly, I’m showing people who think, “Holy cow, you can do Brahms with black kids? And then do gospel with white kids? And they all sound great?” That’s how we’re winning. CD: You go out of your way to develop ability and skill in all of your kids. FN: What I was taught was how to find the right voice to sing something a certain way. And I’ve always questioned that because you can’t always come from a certain background and your genes can sing something the right way – you have to be taught to do it, and anyone can be taught. That’s why we become teachers. So if you’re just going to wait for the person to walk through your door who can sing that music perfectly from the start, I find that limiting. If you can take anyone and create an existence of music, then you have changed society because that person begins a generation. You’ve got to start somewhere. CD: What’s been your mission in terms of seeking out new collaborators and writers? FN: Early on, the only people coming to our performances were my family members. I thought I needed to get people there who weren’t my family members, so I started studying programs of orchestras outside of my genre. They were doing music like Bach and Beethoven and Mozart – serious pieces! I thought, “Let me go to those composers.” I went to people like Mozart and Bach and Stravinsky and Britten, and the number of pieces for children’s choir was very small. They wrote a lot for boys’ choir. A lot for women’s choir, but very little
for children’s choir, which is boys and girls. There was a little, but it was not enough to make year after year of music. So I decided to figure out how to get today’s Mozart to write for children’s choir. Here we had people winning Pulitzers, Oscars, and MacArthurs and Grammys, being commissioned around the country, never writing for children. I wanted to get someone to write a substantial piece of music. That’s where “Transient Glory” comes from. I wanted to get glorious music written for children during the time when the young voice is very unique and beautiful. “Transient.” CD: This all must have come to a head at your first concert at the 92nd Street Y. FN: We had pieces by Nora KrollRosenbaum, Michael Torke, John Tavener, Elena Kats-Chernin. We had a panel discussion of “What is children’s choir music in America?” I had the president of Boosey & Hawkes and the radio host John Schaefer from WNYC come in and speak with the composers. That’s where it all began. At that concert, I was able to attract a whole new audience and I was able to attract media. They came in to hear these composers writing for this new instrument, and the composers wrote masterpieces. People started to pay attention. “Hold on, hold on – you mean that in New York City, these composers who were winning these major awards are going to write great, serious, hard pieces for kids and they’re going to sing it well?” Other great composers started writing, even asking to write. We got some really big names – Steve Reich, Joan Tower, David Del Tredici, Meredith Monk – the list went on. After awhile, composers began to just call me directly to say, “Please commission me.” It’s so cool. Then we have organizations like Bang On a Can, Kronos Quartet, American Composers Orchestra – all saying, “What’s going on here?” CD: Is it helpful to children’s choirs in general to have all this new music being written?
Photo by Stephanie Berger.
FN: It changed the perception of what children can do. The idea of diversity became common and the artistic excellence became real and it was understood that they were both there. That to me was very cool. Then other children’s choirs started to propose outside of the choral realm. So I think that’s the door that we opened. CD: Advice for other choral directors moving on with programs? FN: I think we’re doing a great job with choral music. I feel that there’s a divide between community choirs and classroom choirs. We have to
work together and support each other to bring the children together so that they can understand that the world is much bigger than their community. The community has to understand that they’re much bigger than their own community – it goes on and on. And you have to figure out how to educate our students and still be challenging. I think we tend to get nervous about whether anything’s too hard for them. I think they’ll stay if you make it hard and interesting. People love to be challenged. A challenge, in my opinion, is what keeps a kid coming back.
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Choral Directors The 2012
n this seventh iteration of the annual Choral Director feature, the 2012 Choral Directors of Note report shines the spotlight
on 11 outstanding choral directors from California to Maine and Florida to Wisconsin. Selected from nominations and recommendations sent in by fellow teachers, students, administrators, and colleagues, these following educators represent just a slice of some of the wonderful people and programs in vocal music education today.
16 Choral Director, Janury 2012
This edition of the report seeks out the philosophy, methodology, and impact of these outstanding individuals through three questions: their underlying teaching philosophy; the most important lesson they have learned as music educators; and how they hope to be making a difference in students lives.
ARIZONA What is your teaching philosophy? The content is often the least important topic discussed. Helping students develop a life-long drive to be a better person today than they were yesterday is a far better measure of success.
Jeffrey A. Medlock Skyline High School Mesa Years at Current School: 8 Total Years Teaching: 17 Students in Vocal Music Program: 150
What is the most important lesson you have learned as an educator? Take care of yourself first. If you aren’t well taken care of you can’t take care of anyone else. How do you hope to be making a difference in students’ lives? I want each student to know that he or she can make a difference. Students should understand that competition is a good thing because it pushes them to improve, but the only person they should ever truly compete against is themselves. Make the world a better place by being a better person. Provide beauty and respect through music. Honor the past, develop the future, and live in the present.
behind the music. What was going on in history? Why was it written? Who was the composer? What does the song mean to the student today? When we understand these things, we understand how to sing the music. What is the most important lesson you have learned as an educator? We are not just teaching music/singing; we are teaching culture and how to be a complete human being! Everyone can sing and learn to love great music of all cultures!
Michael Short Orange High School Orange Years in Current School: 30 Total Years Teaching: 32.5 Students in Vocal Music Program: 225 What is your teaching philosophy? My goal as an educator and choral director is to motivate people to succeed. I aim to create life long learners, by peaking their interest in the world around them through the vehicle of music, by creating memories and urges to dig deeper into why things are the way they are in music and in life! We don’t just sing the music; we also strive to understand the text and the reason
How do you hope to be making a difference in students’ lives? Students who walks into my room and will learn the names of 31 –100 other singers. They will learn to breathe, count, give back rubs, and be flexible; like when we were asked to have the choir sing for the visiting Congressman the day before he arrived. In the advanced choirs, students spend hours in and out of class performing for nonprofit organizations as well as paid company parties. This develops friendships that will endure and some just might eat enough meals with the choir to know who eats pizza with mushrooms but no pepperoni. The students who accept these tasks will succeed, achieve and tour places such as Europe (every 4 years), Northern California, San Diego, Washington D.C. or New York. As we say at Orange High School, “Try it! You’ll like it” because “It’s all good at Orange High!” Students in choir find that if they are willing to work hard, persevere, and have integrity, they will be successful in achieving their goals. A great example of this is with the tours that the choir will go on: Every four year we sing our way through Europe. The other years we travel to Northern California, San Diego, New York, and Washington D.C. All students who have worked hard, persevered, and had integrity have attended these trips. It is guaranteed! Through these tours students find that they want to know more about where they are going and where they have been. They want to learn the history, economics, languages, cultures and philosophy of these amazing areas. These are traits of a life long learner. Students in my class are going to be excited about music, learning, and being successful. They learn that through hard work and perseverance, goals can be achieved.
Choral Director, January 2012 17
Scott Leaman Lincoln High School Tallahassee Years in Current School: 11 Total Years Teaching: 20 Students in Vocal Music Program: 175 What is your teaching philosophy? I believe that all students should have the opportunity to be part of a thriving music program that allows them to grow into strong musicians. So often I see music teachers with the “Ivory Tower”
Rob Westerberg York High School York Years at Current School: 11 Total Years Teaching: 24 Students in Vocal Music Program: 200 What is your teaching philosophy? My favorite philosophy of education came from my undergraduate Education Methods teacher, the late Stephen Smith: “to get people to unlearn the irrelevant.” And that resonates with me to this day, particularly in our discipline where inac18 Choral Director, January 2012
mentality that only want the top musicians in their classes. Our responsibility is to help all of our students blossom into musicians, not just those that have natural talent or have purchased their music education through private lessons. We would never expect a student going into Algebra to be able to solve an equation on day one, so why should we expect every new chorus student to match pitch on the first day of school? If you have a love of music and want to sing, I want you in my classroom. What is the most important lesson you have learned as an educator? Academically, I am always aware of how important our literature selection is to the growth of our ensembles. I see so many young directors that want to impress the world by programming tough lit, but then they don’t perform it well. My motto has always been “Program for the choir you’ve got, not the choir you wish you had.” Sing something that is accessible to your own group of singers and sing it beautifully. Our literature becomes our textbook, so we need to find pieces that not only work best
curate preconceived notions exist of what we do and what our value is. So I have adopted the premise that, “Singing is fun, but music is work. The reason we commit to it is because it’s a labor of love... both in equal measure.” Consequently, there’s nothing wrong with talent, but no one is so talented that their vocal (or teaching) qualities are more important than who they are as people. In other words, I believe that we’re in the business of developing people through rigorous musical development. And if we succeed at the first, we’ll soar at the second. What is the most important lesson you have learned as an educator? If the kids know you love them and love working with them, but never at the sacrifice of your professional agenda, they will develop a trust and love for what you’re asking of them... and the culture of an entire music program can be transformed. In each choir I’ve ever worked with, it has been an overt goal of mine to push them well beyond their comfort level and perceived limitations. With that push simultaneously accom-
for our singers but also teach and reinforce the concepts we are trying to get across to our singers. Smart literature selection is one of the most critical skills we need to develop as conductors. How do you hope to be making a difference in students’ lives? I always want to have wonderful choirs that are full of amazing musicians, but I also want to help mold my students into responsible, caring, and hard working people. Sometimes we think that a performance is the end result of our work, but I like to believe that our influence on the lives of our students goes well beyond the concert stage. I value punctuality, kindness, and dependability just as much as I value the ability to sing in tune to make a beautiful musical phrase. Yes, I have very high expectations of my singers and I want every concert to be full of wonderful moments, but I also recognize that we are raising the next generation of concert goers and patrons of the arts. If we can get our students to the point where they value music education for a lifetime, we have been successful.
panied by unconditional support, understanding and rigorous musical development (reading skills, vocal skills, Shaw rehearsal techniques to develop the individual choral disciplines), my choirs have always blossomed in extraordinary ways. How do you hope to be making a difference in students’ lives? Help establish in them a sense of self esteem for all the right reasons; earned accolades as a result of tangible care and commitment to each composer, as well as to their peers. We implemented a graduation requirement specifically for music at York High School because this goal is relevant to every teenager in York, not just those who are already interested in or excel at music. Again, developing people through a vibrant and demanding music program. They need to discover the transforming power of working with a heterogeneous group of peers in accomplishing a common goal over a long period of time (isn’t it true that we’re the last remaining process oriented discipline in a product oriented society?). That mission accomplished, everything else flows from there.
MINNESOTA Philip Brown Hopkins Senior High School Minnetonka
Dr. James Borst East Grand Rapids High School Grand Rapids Years at Current School: 3 Total Years Teaching: 27 Students in Vocal Music Program: 115 What is your teaching philosophy? My teaching philosophy involves developing a connection with each and every student in every class. I strive to engage students by knowing what they are thinking about and how comfortable they feel while interacting with others as they learn vocal music. Each student is vital to the whole. They need to feel that they contribute in positive ways, and that they are noticed for their contributions What is the most important lesson you have learned as an educator? The most important lesson I’ve learned is that excellence in vocal music teaching involves a sense of forgiveness. Allowing students to be themselves and accepting them for who there are as persons is paramount. Students make mistakes in their personal lives, in their relationship with others, and in their music-making. Teachers must allow for these mistakes, utilizing healthy strategies that provide structured consequences. How do you hope to be making a difference in students’ lives? I hope to make a difference in students’ lives by showing them how music transcends human thinking into an aesthetic form. I hope to teach that hard work and a drive for excellence in performance helps us to be critical thinkers, and gives us the ability to gain insight towards building community. Teaching kids to sing perpetuates healthy human interactions that help sharpen the mind and feed the heart.
Years at Current School: 6 Total Years Teaching: 11 Students in Vocal Music Program: 340 What is your teaching philosophy? Music is more than just singing or playing the correct notes and rhythms. Similarly, teaching is more than just introducing a song and going over it time and time again until it gets performed. The more active and thoughtful the learning environment, the better the chance that students will enjoy the music process and continue to value music in their lives. Every student deserves the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of music education. They should get to sing a wide variety of literature, spanning different time periods, cultures, styles and musical challenges. While I have never met a musician who loves every song they have learned, demonstrating to each musician that every song has something to learn from is the important educational lesson for us all. What is the most important lesson you have learned as an educator? During my second year of teaching, I was enjoying a conversation with several music teachers at the state music educators conference. Each person was sharing with one another what music their choirs were singing and what teaching strategies they were using to teach certain ideas or concepts. Then one teacher in the group made the comment that she was most interested in what the students were learning and able to demonstrate successfully. As I reflected on her comment, I realized that I had spent the first year and a half of my teaching focused on me rather than on the students. If a choir I taught had gone all the way through a sight-singing curriculum for the year, would I know they were proficient at the skills learned in that curriculum or was I more focused on simply finishing the curriculum regardless of how they were doing with it? Shifting my educational thinking to the process of student-focused instruction has been the most important lesson I have learned as an instructor to date. How do you hope to be making a difference in students’ lives? I try to make a difference by being a model for life skills such as hard work, discipline, and focus. For many music teachers, it begins with sharing our joy for music and hoping that others can find a similar joy or appreciation for music. By demonstrating that I am still learning as a musician and teacher, hopefully my students will understand that being a lifelong learner is important. Establishing excellence as an expectation in the classroom and always striving to improve musically can help students in all areas of their life. Promoting a classroom environment that is comfortable and inviting can be a great comfort for high school students. Letting each student know that they can be themselves in your class and that they will be accepted just as they are can really be powerful. The support of each other then inside and outside of the class has such a positive influence on so many students. Choral Director, January 2012 19
NEVADA What is your teaching philosophy? Teaching fundamentals and helping students develop a strong work ethic will help students excel in the choral ensemble, as well as in life. What is the most important lesson you have learned as an educator? The most important lesson I have learned is there is no substitution for hard work. It is amazing how students will raise the bar when given high standards and goals. Karen Rogers Elko High School Elko Years at Current School: 19 Total Years Teaching: 24 Students in Vocal Music Program: 180
How do you hope to be making a difference in students’ lives? It is my hope that through the music we learn and perform students will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. I would like them to take the lessons learned as part of a choral ensemble and apply them not only to music, but to their life outside choir, and that hopefully, these lessons will help them be positive and productive citizens within their community.
What is the most important lesson you have learned as an educator? The greatest obstacle for actors to overcome is to abandon their vulnerability and to completely open themselves up as human beings. This is a great lesson that I have learned to accept and that has enabled me to more closely communicate the power that music and text can have over someone. How do you hope to be making a difference in students’ lives? The power to influence and shape lives goes beyond the immediate impact that the printed note has on the students. Sometimes the influence that teachers have over students goes way beyond the time they were in your classroom. I’d like to share a letter I recently received from a former student as an example of this enormous gift teachers have to give to their students: the sharing of musical experiences.
Tony Gonzalez Norman North High School Norman Years at Current School: 15 Total Years Teaching: 33 Students in Vocal Music Program: 200 What is your teaching philosophy? Teachers choose to surround their lives with the lives of young people. Loving and caring for them as individuals and respecting them as young artists is a combination that can reap wonderful benefits. Never underestimate the power of young peoples’ hearts and minds.
20 Choral Director, January 2012
“For so many reasons, I am writing you to say thank you. I have recently begun a new career as a teacher and it has made me think back to my own teachers often. So many times, the first memories are of you and of choir. You shaped my life in so many profound ways. For starters, you introduced me to things I had never experienced. I can still remember the feeling of seeing the curtain lift for the start of Phantom of the Opera. I had butterflies in my stomach from the seer awe of it all. That was a 9th grade trip to Dallas that changed me forever. I remember the pride I felt in myself, and from you, for making All State Choir my first year! Through these experiences and so many more, you instilled in me a love of culture and the arts that goes far beyond singing. As a teacher you were fun and goofy, yet serious and stern. That turned out to be the perfect combination. You demanded perfection and pushed me far beyond what I thought were my limits. You have a true gift in which you motivate and inspire your students. I will forever be grateful for my years as your student.” One hopes, as a teacher, that our students receive the love and passion we feel for the music through their exposure to the arts and musical experiences.
TENNESSEE What is your teaching philosophy? Every student has a voice. It is my job to find students where they are and use the choir as a vehicle to build up technical skills, musicianship, confidence, and – eventually – mastery. While we can spend a lot of time refining the smallest details of a finely-tuned product, one should never overlook nor fail to celebrate the genuine growth and achievement of even the most basic of musical concepts.
Vincent Oakes The Baylor School Chattanooga Years at Current School: 6 Total Years Teaching: 12 Students in Vocal Music Program: 120
What is the most important lesson you have learned as an educator? The best singing comes from even better listening. The greater good of the ensemble is served when each individual insists on hearing others more than he hears himself. How do you hope to be making a difference in students’ lives? In music education circles, we talk a lot about the lifelong skills and benefits of choral music, both musical and extra-musical. While this is certainly true, the benefits of having a safe place to explore a student’s interest and passion in music pay immediate and enriching dividends. I hope that my students will have found participation in choir – both during school and far beyond – to have been a place where students of all levels, abilities, interests, and places in society can come together for a common good, the sum efforts of which are much greater than of any one individual.
UTAH What is your teaching philosophy? Music is an integral part of education. Music awakens imagination, opens the mind and activates the body. I believe vocal music training has merit for all learners. I strongly believe in the power of music to build bridges between logic and emotion. I am committed to helping all students gain organizational and study skills to help them be independent learners, to learn to ask well thought out questions, express themselves creatively and use music and a vehicle for introspection and personal growth. Adrianne J. Tawa Canyon View High School Cedar City Years at Current School: 11 Total Years Teaching: 11 Students in Vocal Music Program: 240
What is the most important lesson you have learned as an educator? I have learned that it is important to find or create something beautiful every single day. If I forget to make something beautiful, I go home feeling frustrated and dissatisfied. When I keep my focus on beauty, I feel like I float out the door. How do you hope to be making a difference in students’ lives? I hope that my students will leave their experience in my classroom feeling like they have a deeper understanding of themselves and a deeper understanding of how they connect to each other and the world around them. Music stirs us up inside and helps us make sense of everything else we think we know or are trying to understand. It is our mode of transportation to greater personal growth and artistic expression. It would be wonderful if my students would leave their high school experience with a desire to keep singing!
Choral Director, January 2012 21
Raymond Roberts Milwaukee High School of the Arts Milwaukee Years at Current School: 20 Total Years Teaching: 21 Students in Vocal Music Program: 190
22 Choral Director, January 2012
What is your teaching philosophy? My teaching philosophy is based on a maxim attributed to Goethe. It states, “If you treat a person as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” Many of my students have been inundated with others’ low expectations of them as scholars, musicians, and citizens over a long period of time. It takes time, patience, and nurturing to mitigate those negative messages, but it is well worth the effort. Music, particularly singing, is the perfect vehicle to impact my students with the highest expectations imaginable. What is the most important lesson you have learned as an educator? I have learned that my life is enhanced and enriched by virtue of the fact that I know and experience my world through the lens of music on a daily basis. Music is inextricably woven into the fabric of humanity in all cultures and societies. How do you hope to be making a difference in students’ lives? I hope to leave my students with the understanding that someone expected great things from them, was willing to help equip them with the skills and tools to meet those high expectations, and that they should, for the rest of their lives, hold themselves and their children to those same lofty expectations in all of their endeavors.
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CDSurvey: Singers with Special Needs
Music for All: Incorporating Singers with Special Needs
usic education should be available to all students, regardless of mental or physical acuity. However, managing the range of personalities and abilities in a large ensemble can already be a tremendous challenge, and even more so when students with mental, physical, or social disabilities are brought into the fold. On the other hand, there can be great life lessons and learning moments when a wide spectrum of students from different backgrounds, abilities, and capabilities work together towards a common goal. This recent CD survey aims to provide insight into how students with special needs are being integrated into school choral groups around the country: what proportion of choral directors have students with special needs in their classes and ensembles, how integrated these students are into the choral activities, and what some of the particular challenges and benefits can be of working with children who have disabilities.
24 Choral Director, January 2012
They have some specialized instruction and also curriculum participate in some areas of the regular choral curriculum Do any students with special needs participate in your choirs?
Is there dedicated staff that assists special needs students in your ensembles?
No 13% Yes 87% No 13% Yes 87%
“I have Autistic /Aspergers students, ESL students, behavior-issue students, LD, and gifted students all in They participate the same choir.” fully in all aspects of the regular classes Ben Luginbuhl Normal Community High School Normal, Ill.
If yes, do you have separate instruction for them or are they integrated into the class as a whole? They have some specialized instruction and also They participate fully in allofaspects of the regular participate in some areas the regular choral classes curriculum
They have some specialized instruction and also participate in some areas of the regular choral curriculum
“While I expect the special needs student to fully participate in all aspects of the choral classroom, I do incorporate accommodations that will help that student to succeed in chorus. I utilize modified grading and assessments where needed. I adapt choreography for the physically challenged. I tell students to do as much as they can do.” Kenneth “Skip” Morris Eastern Wayne Middle School Goldsboro, N.C.
65% Yes 35% No “They participate fully to the extent that they are
able. Some with severe needs are able only to come to class and enjoy the music; some can participate to a limited extent; some can participate in the singing, but not in the theory aspects; some have modified theory.” Pattie Andrews Newton Middle School Centennial, Colo.
No 65% No 65%
Yes 35% Yes 35%
Do your student leaders assist in working with special needs students in your groups?
No 24% No 24%
Yes 76% Yes 76%
“If the special needs students tend to be a little ‘slower’ in learning music and/or choreography, other students work with them in small groups or one-onone.” Sherry Adams Lakota Local Schools Kansas, Ohio “It is wonderful to watch the interaction between student leaders and the special needs students. It benefits both parties greatly.” Charles Bateman Susquenita High School Duncannon, Pa.
What are the most challenging elements of including children with special needs in your choral groups? “Every child has special needs because every child is unique with different strengths and challenges.” Kimberly Morgan Sun Valley Middle School Indian Trail, N.C.
Choral Director, January 2012 25
“We employ movement along with the music, and this sometimes presents challenges to those students. Repetition is key to success in most situations, although some modifications are made to assist students who might have difficulty with certain tasks.” Chris Fowler Buford High School Buford, Ga. “It’s a personal challenge as a professional musician to be patient and accept the time each student needs to learn the music at his or her own learning pace.” Gael Berberick Tiverton high School Tiverton, R.I. “Students with social issues find a class with many students and close quarters very difficult to handle. These are the hardest students I have to incorporate.” Liz Oldenburg Academy Oldenburg, Ind.
Are there any unanticipated or surprising benefits from integrating special needs children in your choral groups?
“My special need students seem to thrive in choir. Singing allows them a place to be successful in school.” L. Julian Willowbrook Middle School S. Beloit, Ill.
demic students and those with special needs. Peer support is crucial to each student’s success, regardless of abilities.” Kathy Caton New Field High School Selden, N.Y.
“I think it is beneficial from every aspect to include special needs students, and all directors should do their best to make them a part of the ensemble.” Paula Gorman Woodstown Middle School Woodstown, N.J.
“I love my choir, and I love my special needs students. I feel like they have taught me how to be a better teacher, communicator, and, most of all, musician.” Mary Montessori Peaks Academy Littleton, Colo.
“My students with disabilities are no longer thought of as having disabilities. They are seen as people worth knowing. Our homecoming king who was nominated by the choir and elected by the entire student body has Downs. It made the local news.” Ken Ahlberg Hermantown High School Hermantown, Minn.
“Each learner brings something different to the group and, many times, others can learn from the strengths and weaknesses of fellow students – both special needs and non-special needs.” Jill Woodward Indian Creek School Crownsville, Mary.
“All of the students benefited from the program. The chorus class became advocates for them, building self esteem for both aca-
Additional thoughts on including children with special needs in standard school choral groups? “I am always amazed and saddened when I am talking with a choral director who states the reason they are hesitant to ‘allow’ students with special needs to perform with their group at concerts is because their sound might take away from the sound of the group itself. There are many ways of helping this situation and they need to be discussed. All students should be allowed to sing, especially if the group is a non-select ensemble.” David Ranen Amherst Regional Middle School Amherst, Mass. “Place yourself in the parent/ guardians’ shoes for a second before you exclude students. Sometimes performances do not need to be perfect to be successful.” Bill Naydan Hatboro-Horsham High School Horsham, Pa.
26 Choral Director, January 2012
“If the students can match pitch, learn their parts and contribute to the choirs performance in a positive way, I think it is a great thing to have them in the class. However, if they cannot, then I do not agree with their participation. The other members of the class have the right not to have their learning impacted in a negative way just because the laws says there is no choice. Inclusion can be counterproductive, as it is in my situation. Other students have expressed their frustrations and though I encourage them to do their best, they have a legitimate complaint. I have suggested to the special needs teachers an alternative class for the students who clearly cannot positively contribute to the choir setting, but, while some agree with me, others feel it will single out those students. What they fail to realize is that by putting them in a class they should not be in, they have already singled them out to the very students they want to include them with. The rest of the class is not blind or deaf and can see and hear for themselves what these teachers and parents are oblivious to. I am an advocate for these students, but not at the expense of other students.” Dale Morgan St. Charles North High School St. Charles, Ill.
“The ‘least restricted environment’ for special needs students is not always the regular choir class. Some students benefit from more specialized instruction designed for their ability level and interest. It is not always possible to offer specialized classes due to scheduling and expectations of parents and/or administrators. Ideally, every student, regardless of ability, should be provided the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.” Dianne Johnson Jefferson County Board of Education Birmingham, Al. “I have had many students over the years who have had disabilities of one kind or another and most of them could sing in a group without it interfering with the sound and success of the group. I have had a few who were not able to do what was required and it has been frustrating to me and the other students when they must remain in choir because a parent is demanding it. That is not a good experience for anyone.” Camille Blackburn Hillcrest High School Ammon, Idaho
Choral Director, January 2012 27
CDRepertoire Forum: Baroque
Baroque Music for All Levels By John C. hughes Baroque music can be some of the most joyous, rhythmic, and fun music to sing. However, many choir directors are afraid to program it because it falls outside of our contemporary idiom. As we encourage our students to be life-long choristers, it is important that we expose them to the entire body of choral literature. In this forum, I discuss several pieces from almost every difficulty level and voicing. Remember, you don’t have to start your choir with Bach’s Mass in B Minor! While certainly not an exhaustive list, I hope these suggestions prove to be helpful.
Bist Du Bei Mir Johann Sebastian Bach (ed. and trans. by Doreen Rao) Boosey & Hawkes Medium-Easy
Come, Ye Sons of Art Henry Purcell (ed. and arr. by Emily Crocker) Hal Leonard Medium-Easy
Arguably one of the most beautiful melodies ever written, all choirs will love singing this piece. It is completely unison throughout, so it can be successfully performed by small or developing choirs, but more advanced choirs can expand their listening skills through this piece, too. Bach’s harmonic language allows for an opportunity to explore moveable do. Doreen Rao includes a singable English translation, or try the German text. Score preview: www.jwpepper. com/5351242.item.
This is a wonderful concert opener: “Come, Ye Sons of Art, Tune all your voices and instruments play, to celebrate this triumphant day!” Emily Crocker has done a great job reducing this piece to two voices. Emphasize the initial consonants, especially on the word “Come” to produce crisp articulation. With a fair amount of repeated material and memorable melodies, choirs will learn this quickly and enjoy the process, too. Score preview: www.jwpepper. com/3212560.item.
Wir Eilen Mit Schwachen, Doch Emsigen Schritten, (Cantata No.78) Johann Sebastian Bach (ed. by Arthur S. Talmadge) E.C. Schirmer Medium
28 Choral Director, January 2012
This is a more difficult twopart women’s piece, which would serve as a wonderful introduction to melismas. The imitative writing would also reinforce the importance of being an independent singer. In da capo form, this piece may have been originally sung as a duet. For groups that have two particularly strong singers, consider using them as soloists the first time through and adding the full chorus on the repeat.
throughout; however, at the end, Schütz shifts to Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison. This would be a good selection for choirs relatively
Cantate Domino Heinrich Schütz (ed. by Nancy Grundahl) Colla Voce Medium Nancy Grundahl has produced a very good edition of this piece. She has made some very helpful performance suggestions while retaining a very “clean” score. This piece demonstrates the rhythmic vitality of Baroque music and even has a brief shift to triple meter. This piece will challenge choirs to be rhythmically independent and secure in their parts (it is unaccompanied); however, the choir will be richly rewarded for their labor.
Suscepit Israel (Magnificat in D) Johann Sebastian Bach Colla Voce While all the other pieces suggested so far have been moderately arranged and edited, this piece is very close to what Bach wrote. The vocal ranges are intended for developed singers. For example, the alto part delves down to a low F#. Choirs will enjoy the serene and tranquil mood of this piece. The piano accompaniment is very straightforward and would be a good opportunity to feature a student accompanist.
THREE-PART Praise Ye the Lord Georg Philipp Telemann (arr. by Wallace DePue) Alfred Music Publications Medium-Easy Like many of his contemporaries, Telemann composed canons; “Praise Ye the Lord” is the seventh of his 12 canons. This piece can be performed by any combination of voices. The ensemble sings the first verse in unison, then divides into three parts for the duration of the
second verse. While not simple, this piece can help develop autonomy and confidence in your choirs.
SATB Hanacpachap Cussicuinin Juan Pérez Bocanegra (arr. by Christopher Moroney) World Library Publications Medium-Easy This piece was published in Lima, Peru in 1631, making it the one of the first known pieces of polyphonic music printed in the Western world. The text is in an Incan language, Quechua, for which Moroney has included a phonetic transliteration. Moroney also included parts for an optional three-part Peruvian percussion ensemble (Wankara or Bombo, Chaqchas, and Gourd), but the piece can be successfully performed unaccompanied, as well. The piece is easily learned because it is two strophic verses of homophonic material. Consider using this as a processional.
Ehre Sei Dir, Christe Heinrich Schütz (ed. by Matthew Michaels) Hal Leonard Medium-Easy “Ehre Sei Dir, Christe” is the concluding chorus of Schütz’s “St. Matthew’s Passion.” It is unaccompanied and strictly four parts. The mostly homophonic texture will develop choirs’ sense of ensemble, while the brief polyphonic sections will serve as a nice contrast. The text is in German
new to SATB literature. Score preview and audio recording: www.jwpepper.com/10087654.item.
Soul of the World Henry Purcell (ed. by Holland Jancaitis) Alliance Medium From his 1692 Cecilian ode, Purcell’s “Soul of the World” is fresh and vibrant. With light articulations and leggero melismas, choirs will enjoy singing this piece. Consider rehearsing this piece under tempo and working up to a brisker performance tempo. Its somewhat usual text speaks of music’s ability to join the “scattered atoms” and “various parts” in “perfect harmony.”
Swell the Full Chorus (Solomon) Georg Frederick Handel Galaxy Medium Another great opening piece, “Swell the Full Chorus” is exuberant. Choirs will need to work to align their articulation of the homophonic beginning. The B section Choral Director, January 2012 29
starts serenely; however, it quickly shifts mood when the text changes to “rouse the whole nation in songs to His Fame.” After this, the choir returns to the A section in typical Baroque fashion. Advanced high school choirs will enjoy this piece.
SATB With ORCHESTRA Looking to pull out all the stops for a concert? Add strings! Here are two suggestions for accessible pieces for both choir and orchestra.
Laudate Jehovan omnes gentes Georg Philip Telemann (Realization of the figured bass by Fritz Oberdoerffer) Concordia Medium
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Calling for two violin parts, cello, and organ, “Laudate Jehovan omnes gentes” is a festive piece. It begins with a fast, joyous section, then moves to a slow, ponderous triple meter. The piece concludes with a grand “Alleluia” section. Not terribly long (about four minutes), this would be a good introduction to singing with orchestral instruments. Advanced high school players will be able to play the string parts, which are available separately through the publisher.
Gloria Antonio Vivaldi Every choral singer should have the chance to sing this piece at some point in his or her life. From the
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glorious opening movement, to the fugue at the end, and everything in 30 Choral Director, January 2012
between, this piece is magnificent. Choose to perform a few movements or program the entire piece. It requires two soprano soloists and an alto soloist. The orchestration is fairly straightforward--trumpet, oboe, violin I, violin II, viola, cello/ bass, and organ. If your school has an orchestra program, this would be a wonderful opportunity to collaborate. Advanced high school orchestras can play the string parts. However, the trumpet part is very high (in C) and the oboe part is quite exposed; if possible, consider asking colleagues or hiring professionals to play these parts.
SSATTB Plorate filii Israel (Jephte) Giacomo Carissimi (ed. by Giora Contino) Roger Dean Medium-Advanced The final chorus from Carissimi’s oratorio is absolutely stunning. Based on Judges 11:19-38, “Plorate filii Israel” is a lament for Jephte’s daughter. The descending ground bass is typical of Baroque laments. The choral parts are full of emotion produced by gorgeous suspensions. Experiment with a variety of instrumentations for the continuo part. Advanced choirs will absolutely love this piece!
John C. Hughes is currently pursuing a D.M.A. in Choral Conducting and Pedagogy at the University of Iowa and serving as music director at The Congregational United Church of Christ of Iowa City. He has earned degrees from Augustana College and Northern Illinois University, and also has experience as a K-12 teacher and collegiate conductor. He may be reached directly at John.Charles.Hughes@gmail.com.
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Elf: The Broadway Musical from Alfred
Elf: The Broadway Musical is the companion songbook to the Original Broadway Cast Recording, on Ghostlight Records. The songbook features all the memorable tunes from the musical, such as “Sparklejollytwinklejingley,” “A Christmas Song,” and the rowdy romp “Nobody Cares About Santa.” The collectible songbook includes music for piano and voice, as well as photos from the original Broadway production. Elf: The Broadway Musical debuted in 2010 and is now a perennial favorite with new theatrical productions scheduled in major markets everywhere. The score is reviewed by The New York Times’ Charles Isherwood as “. . . polished and hummable. Chad Beguelin’s lyrics have a bright comic zest and are well-matched to Matthew Sklar’s gently swinging music.”
Integrated Practice: Coordination, Rhythm & Sound from Oxford University Press
This book promises to give readers the tools to combine what it calls “total-body awareness with a deep and practice understanding of the rhythmic structure of musical language.” The aim is to discover ways to establish a dialogue between structures of music and individual personalities of singers, instrumentalists and conductors. The book includes more than a hundred and fifty exercises demonstrated by video and audio clips on an extensive companion website designed to inform readers’ daily practice, improvising, rehearsing and performing.
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Visit www.nafme.org for more information on this and other exciting academies. Choral Director, January 2012 33
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Attack the Consonants “Rhythmic energy comes from the consonants. If the tempo is dragging, especially in soft passages, or the song needs more energy but not more volume, practice speaking the words in rhythm with exaggerated popping of Ps and clicking of Ks. Then keep the same exaggerated consonant sounds while singing in a soft, almost whispered singing voice. The result is the words become a little more staccato and crisp, and the tempo ceases to drag, while the rhythmic energy returns to the music and excitement becomes the effect. From there, you can bring it up to the desired dynamic level.” Doug Meyer Woodland Elementary School Plainfield, N.J. Submit your PLAYING TIP online at www.sbomagazine.com or e-mail your Vocal Tip by an e-mail to editor it toSubmit editor Eliahu Sussman at sending email@example.com. Eliahuentries Sussman Winning will at: be firstname.lastname@example.org. published in School Band and Orchestra Magazine and contributor receive prize gift compliments Win a special prize fromwill EPN Travel,aInc. Winning Playing Tipsof EPNwill Travel Services, Inc. Director magazine. be published in Choral
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Your Music. Your Education. Your Opus. Symphony Publishing | 21 Highland Circle, Suite 1 | Needham, MA 02494 | (781) 453-9310 | FAX (781) 453-9389 | 1-800-964-5150 36
Choral Director, January 2012
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