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SEPTEMBER 2012 $5.00

Cincinnati inderellas C Sarah Baker

of Ohio’s Little Miami High School

Performance: Sight Singing

Repertoire Forum: Anniversaries in 2013

Repertoire Forum:

Commemorating Anniversaries

Musical & Historical Anniversaries in 2013 By John C. Hughes

C

horal musicians enjoy a wealth of literature spanning more than five centuries. With the tremendous amount of compositions

from which to choose, programming a concert can easily become overwhelming. I’ve found choosing pieces based on the anniversary of world events or composers’ birth and death dates not only helps me narrow my search, but is also an incredibly useful tool to help students contextualize music within history. Consider programming these or other works by Britten, Dello Joio, Dowland, Hindemith, Poulenc, and Verdi. Because 2013 also marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Battle of Gettysburg, I’ve included several pieces to commemorate the Civil War. UNISON “Oliver Cromwell” Benjamin Britten (Boosey & Hawkes) Easy 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Benjamin Britten’s birth. While he may be best known to choral musicians for his “War Requiem” and “Five Flower Songs,” Britten also wrote wonderful music for younger voices. His setting of this Suffolk nursery rhyme is whimsical with an imaginative piano part. Students will enjoy this piece’s lightheartedness and silly text. bit.ly/s7jert

34

SSA “What If I Never Speed?” John Dowland, arr. Russell Robinson (Carl Fischer) Medium-Easy This is a wonderful introduction to the music of John Dowland. Celebrate the 450th anniversary of his birth by programming this interesting madrigal. Students will enjoy the beautiful homophony and be challenged by the brief “echo”

Choral Director • September 2012

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September 2012

20 Sarah Baker

I have to keep pushing because the success these kids will feel is going to carry over to whatever to whatever career they choose.

From the Trenches

Contents

Teacher Evaluations Are Coming By Bob Morrison e have all heard

to all of us in the music education field to ensure that the systems being implemented will measure our teachers based on their area of expertise and student growth… music. Robert B. Morrison is the founder of Quadrant Arts Education Research, an arts education research and intelligence organization. In addition to other related pursuits in the field of arts education advocacy, Mr. Morrison has helped create, found, and run Music for All, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, and, along with Richard Dreyfuss and the late Michael Kaman, the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. He may be reached directly at bobm@artsedresearch.org.

The reality of teacher evaluation systems in music is coming fast. It will be up

teachers

student growth. I suspect most

Performance: Sight Singing

people would not disagree with

creasing pupils’ understanding of previous work, sharpening the skill under practice, and providing a foundation on which higher level cognitive skills can be built.

this statement. Where there is plenty of debate and disagreement, though, is “how?”

UpFront: Fundraising CD checks in with Jon Krueger, executive director of fundraising association AFRDS, on tips for maximizing fundraising revenue while minimizing effort.

Get over it – this issue is not going

the stories about how

away. Ignoring it will only put our profession at greater risk. • Get a plan. There are plenty of districts that are trying out ideas on ways to meet the administrators’ objectives. In June, NAfME hosted a National Symposium on Music Assessment and Teacher Evaluation to tackle this very issue. Visit nafme.org or musicstandards.org • Be sure to reach out to other music educators and your state music educators association to connect with those who may be tackling the same issues. • Use social media to find and connect with your peers who are interested in this issue. The hash tags #musiced #musedchat are great places to start.

need to be held accountable for

Features 8

the music education field comes up with a solution or series of solutions or we will have one imposed upon us by people who have no idea about what we do in the classroom or what we are really trying to accomplish. And, in the second of those two options, I guarantee we will not like the solution. This is the scariest of thoughts. Already in some states we have heard music teachers will be measured by student outcomes in… math! Yep, you read correctly. All that training to allow you to become the most effective teacher possible (using music as your educational tool of choice) will be reduced down to a measure of something you have no influence or control over. This is what is at stake. So, here is what needs to happen:

Ready or Not W

For subjects like language arts and math, where there are statewide assessments to measure student performance, the task of tying student growth to teacher evaluation may be easier. Notice I said, “may.” Just because something is possible does not mean it is the proper thing to do and there is plenty of debate about tying student test scores to teacher evaluations. But here is the reality: tying teacher performance (for all teachers) to student achievement and student growth is a freight train rolling down the railroad track, and it is heading down hill. The national movement to tie teachers assessment to student outcomes will be the “new normal” for teachers across this country… including you, music and arts educators. This leads to the logical question: “How will this be accomplished?” And the answer the profession has right now is: “We do not know!” And this

14 14

Choral Director • September 2012

“The hard reality we face is that either the music education field comes up with a solution or series of solutions or we will have one imposed upon us.” is the scariest statement of all. Here is why: School districts across the nation are moving to tie teacher assessments to student outcomes. Many states have mandated these programs be in place as early as the 2013/2014 school year. This creates a challenge for all subjects that are in the “non-tested” category (think all arts, world languages, social studies, some sciences, physical education, and more). In essence, nearly 80

percent of teachers in the United States teach “non-tested” subjects. This does not mean it will keep the administrators from implementing something – anything – just so they may say they are doing as they are told. So here is the rub: our profession has yet to come up with a solution to this issue and school administrators are actively seeking answers. The hard reality we face is that either

‘The Cloud’ Empowering Developing Sight Singers By Adam Wurst

A

sk most students to sight sing by themselves or in a small group and you are sure to witness a reaction of dread or

14 From the Trenches

even terror. Many developing singers admit to feeling inad-

equate when reading music, let alone reading music unaided, in front of peers, or for an assessment. Compounding the issue for singers includes the psychological effects of the quality of their musicianship

Ready or not, teacher evaluations are coming. Bob Morrison warns music educators to prepare for the inevitable.

Before introducing some incredible Web resources for your Theory and Ear Training Toolbox let’s address some caveats: • For clarity, this article will interchangeably use sight “sing” and “read” for teachers who may use one term over the other. • The article will strive to provide as many quality resources for a variety of age groups and musical development without entering into an indepth review of the pros and cons of each website. • The focus will be geared toward the development and reinforcement of the singer as an individual. While many of the resources may be used in a group setting, the intention is to offer suggestions for strengthening the ability and confidence for each singer independently. • This article will focus on the Internet resources that provide performance-based ear training exercises as opposed to strictly providing “worksheet” type drills for theory. Choral Director • September 2012 15

reflecting in direct proportion to their ability to sight read. Performance anxiety and basic musicianship skills come together in a “perfect storm” of questions such as “What do I do first?” “How do I find

28

my first pitch?” and “How do I know I did well?”

As teachers, we may spend adequate amounts of time training our choirs to sight sing as an ensemble only to find that students still require additional help when having to read by themselves. In a group setting, it may be easier for students to recall the steps for working through an exercise but quickly forget what to do next when performance pressure and anxiety weigh in. The Internet provides many resources that give developing musicians the confidence needed when preparing to sight read independently. Using these technology resources, primarily 28

through “drill and practice” methods, reinforces the concepts of theory and ear training taught during rehearsals as well as develops independent skills for your singers, which encourages greater confidence and assurance. Drill and practice methods using quality Internet tools are highly effective in reinforcing theory and ear training concepts from the rehearsal. Research from the Malawi Institute of Education supports this method especially in the development of language learning: “Drill is the repeated hearing and use of a particular item. This technique is most helpful in language learning. As a form of repetition, drills enable one to focus sharply on particular points… and can be fun if the teacher is lively and enthusiastic about it.”1 Particular strengths of providing drill and practice ear training activities through online resources include in-

One of the most comprehensive music theory resources on the Internet is Ricci Adams’ musictheory.net (Figure 1). This flash-based website offers musicians the opportunity to interact with theory lessons, exercises, and oth-

er tools. An added benefit is that students can download a copy for use when they are not online. I have used musictheory. net successfully with both middle and high school students in small group and individ- Figure 2 ual settings. While the lessons portion of the site is very good, the power for developing sight singing skills is found in the exercises area.2 There are 13 varieties of trainers each capable of being customized for student’s specific need of drill and practice. Of particular interest is the ability to customize the sound used in the ear training demonstrations. Using electronic sounds in the ear training of singers has long been known to be less effective than an acoustic instrument. However, using a flute or clarinet sound has produced greater results and much improved accuracy when working with my students. Perhaps my favorite feature in this rich training toolbox is the ability to show or print a Progress Report at the end of an activity (Figure 2). This feature has proven quite valuable in gauging students’ progress and keeping them accountable in their quality of work. Particularly helpful is the information that reflects how many exercises were skipped in the process of completing the activity.

Figure 1

Choral Director • September 2012

Learning to sight read is similar to learning a different language. Actually, thinking of the process of sight reading as processing multiple languages at once may be more helpful as we consider why developing musicians struggle with the concept. “Suppose you had studied a second language. You can read well-formed sentences composed by someone else if they are given to you in writing, but you can’t converse easily. You can understand spoken phrases if you can listen to a recording of them repeatedly and write them out, but you can’t deal with them quickly enough to have a conversation. You can make phrases yourself, but not in real time. You have to write them out and make lots of revisions. Would you call yourself fluent?3” Sight singing involves a complex variety of musical languages such as pitch, rhythm, melody, articulation, and expression. Add to these musical elements the use of sight singing “language” such as Solfege, numbers, or neutral syllables and it becomes clear why it is important to be able to focus on various skill sets one at a time. JTheory Creations’ eMusicTheory offers a tool for rhythm performance and rhythm dictation that connects what the student hears with what they see as well as giving them a chance to perform the example (Figure 3). An interesting feature is the ability to play sounds during the exercise or turn all sounds off. Setting the sounds to “No” causes the drill to use a flashing metronome instead of an audible click

School Band and Orchestra • September 2012

16 Survey: Sounding Off CD readers sound off on challenges in the work place and the tools and resources they deem to be most important for success in the choral classroom.

20 UpClose: Sarah Baker CD catches up with the director of Ohio’s Little Miami Select Women’s Choir, Sarah Baker, who, in spite of massive systematic cuts to the arts in her district, took her school choir to improbable heights at the recently concluded World Choir Games in Cincinnati, Ohio this past July.

28 Performance: Sight Singing Educator and technology expert Adam Wurst suggests ways to engage an array of free web resources for empowering developing sight singers into the curriculum.

34 Repertoire Forum: Anniversaries John C. Hughes presents music based on anniversaries of world events or famous composer births and deaths that fall in the year 2013. 2

Choral Director • September 2012

Columns 4

Opening Notes

38 Vocal Tip

6

Headlines

39 Classifieds

37 New Products

40 Ad Index

Cover photo by Ryan Armbrust, Louisville, Ky. Choral Director® Volume 9, Number 5, 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.

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Opening Notes

Management Resources Finding effective management resources can make a world of difference for any educator. In this issue’s Survival Guide survey, on page 16, CD readers were asked to name their most valuable teaching tool. Perhaps surprisingly, what was most commonly cited was not something that can be bought or easily acquired: vocal music educators pointed to personality traits such as a sense of humor and creativity, along with experience, as the resources they rely on most in the classroom. While these are no doubt essential qualities for any successful educator – indeed, anyone who works with children or young adults – they’re also somewhat intangible. Because this publication aims to serve vocal music educators and school choral directors with management tools and ideas, I’d like to focus for a moment on the second most popular response to that aforementioned question in the survey, in which choral directors trumpeted the value of YouTube and other Internet resources. In this issue’s performance article, “Empowering Developing Sight Singers Using ‘The Cloud,’” author and educator Adam Wurst presents a number of Internet resources, referred as “the Cloud,” that can be used to help develop sight reading and sight singing skills. Wurst writes detailed reviews of these sites and resources, many of which started out as the work of a single generous educator looking “Imagine if there were to share ideas, along with suggestions for implementing 18,000 television them in classroom exercises and curricula. And that’s all channels, all focusing within this one discreet area of focus – sight singing. On YouTube, a search for “choir” yields over 370,000 on various aspects videos and 18,000 channels. Imagine if there were 18,000 of choral repertoire, television channels, all focusing on various aspects of choperformance, and ral repertoire, performance, and instruction? That’s esseninstruction?” tially what YouTube offers. What’s more, videos and channels are all keyword searchable, meaning that if there’s a particular video or performance topic one is searching for, it’s as easy as typing, “pharyngeal voice” or “choral warm up exercises” in the search bar, hitting return, and browsing the relevant hits. This is great for finding and examining repertoire, exploring performance and teaching tips, and keeping tabs on the choral world at large. For the non-musical challenges facing school choral directors, web resources are not so consolidated. ChoralNet (www.choralnet.org) is the official website of ACDA and its extensive forums and up-to-date and well-organized links make this site an excellent place to start. Everything from rehearsal techniques to pedagogy to working with special needs singers is discussed in the forums or associated sites and articles. Amoung other handy web resources worth mentioning is: www.drewcollins.com/resources, which includes a list of budget-saving tools, resources for changing voice choirs, downloadable repertoire, and more. Directors should also check their state’s vocal association web site. The Florida Vocal Association site, for example, found online at www.fva.net/for-directors/ctr, has a great list of links covering topics like advocacy, classroom aids, choral websites, and much more. Along with www.choraldirectormag.com, the home of this publication and its years of back issues, insightful articles, and the latest breaking choral news, what other websites do you visit when looking for ideas for managing your ensembles? Be sure to “like” Choral Director’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/choraldirectormagazine, and then share your favorite choral-related web links on our wall…

®

September 2012 • Volume 9, Number 5 GROUP PUBLISHER Sidney L. Davis sdavis@symphonypublishing.com PUBLISHER Richard E. Kessel rkessel@symphonypublishing.com Editorial EXECUTIVE EDITOR Christian Wissmuller cwissmuller@symphonypublishing.com EDITOR Eliahu Sussman esussman@symphonypublishing.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Matt Parish mparish@symphonypublishing.com Art PRODUCTION MANAGER Laurie Guptill lguptill@symphonypublishing.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Andrew P. Ross aross@symphonypublishing.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Laurie Chesna lchesna@symphonypublishing.com Advertising ADVERTISING SALES Iris Fox ifox@symphonypublishing.com CLASSIFIED SALES Steven Hemingway shemingway@symphonypublishing.com Business CIRCULATION MANAGER Melanie A. Prescott mprescott@symphonypublishing.com

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CHAIRMAN Xen Zapis PRESIDENT Lee Zapis lzapis@symphonypublishing.com CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Rich Bongorno rbongorno@symphonypublishing.com Corporate Headquarters 26202 Detroit Road, Suite 300 Westlake, Ohio 44145 (440) 871-1300 www.symphonypublishing.com Publishing, Sales, & Editorial Office 21 Highland Circle, Suite 1 Needham, MA 02494 (781) 453-9310 FAX (781) 453-9389 1-800-964-5150 www.sbomagazine.com Member 2012

RPMDA Eliahu Sussman Editor • esussman@symphonypublishing.com 4

Choral Director • September 2012


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Headlines The Actual Cost of a Music Education

for music education averaging $187 per student annually in the sample school district. Mark L. Fermanich of the Center for Education Policy Analysis in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver conducted the study by focusing on a school district that served over 70,000 students during the 2009-2010 school year. The district includes urban, suburban

and rural schools with a total district budget of $853 million. From that $13.9 million was allocated to music education representing 1.6 percent of total district expenditures. The sample school district is moderately diverse with 25 percent minority students and 25 percent of the student population designated eligible for Title 1 funds available for low-income families. Participation in elective music programs in the district’s middle and high school levels mirror the district’s demographics, with minorities equally as likely as whites to participate. Based on total enrollment, the study reveals that the music education costs average $187 per student annually. Costs averaged $195 per student at the elementary level (grades 1-5) where general music, a 45-minute music class per three-day cycle, is mandatory. Per student spend-

ing in middle school averaged $189 and $143 in high school, as music instruction is elective at the secondary level. The school district examined in this study is committed to a robust music program with general music and instrumental music offerings for all grades. The principals and teachers surveyed in the study placed a high value on music’s benefits to their students and their schools. In addition to universal elementary music participation, the study found that over 50 percent of students in middle school and high school participate in elective band, choir and orchestra offerings. The study also found that these core education funds gave these schools better access to quality music instruction. Additionally, participation in school music programs correlated to lowered drop out rates and higher school engagement. Read more at www.namm.org.



A first-of-its-kind study outlines the actual costs of a comprehensive k-12 music education program. The research, funded by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation’s Sounds of Learning research initiative, calculates a cost

Nancy Ditmer Begins Two-Year NAfME Presidency

6

Choral Director • September 2012

valuable advice.” Nominated by William Anderson, retired associate dean and former professor of music at Kent State University, Ditmer has been president elect for the past two years and actively involved in policy making, including the formation of the strategic plan. She has also been working on such issues as improving professional development for teachers and establishing learning communities through advanced technology. Learn more at www.nafme.org.

Joseph Martin, Director of Shawnee Press Sacred Publications

Hal Leonard recently announced that Joseph Martin has signed a new agreement to continue as the director of sacred publications for Shawnee Press, the acclaimed choral and instrumental music publishing company it acquired in 2009. Martin has overseen the overall publishing for the church market – for Shawnee and its prestigious imprints Harold Flammer Music and GlorySound – and is responsible for meticulously maintaining their stellar reputations. In his expanded role, Martin will focus on catalog development, composing, producing, workshops and reading sessions.

For more information on Shawnee Press publications, please visit www.shawneepress.com.



Ditmer will transition to a half-time schedule at Wooster so that she can serve as president of the organization through June of 2014. “This is a logical next step for me,” she says. “It will give me an opportunity to gain additional leadership skills and to broaden my network of contacts across all 50 states.” Indeed, Ditmer will attempt to visit every state during the next 24 months, chair the National Executive Board (NEB), develop meeting agendas, and

deliver keynote addresses at the organization’s annual gatherings. She also hopes to have a strong voice in enlightening Washington lawmakers about the importance of music education in the nation’s schools. “In my opinion, as long as politicians are running education, there will be problems,” she says. “It’s just too hard for them to keep up with what’s happening in the schools. We need them to listen to us; we are the educators; we are with the students; we can provide



College of Wooster marching band director of 27 years Nancy Ditmer is set to begin a two-year term as president of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME).


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Upfront: Fundraising

Fundaising Campaigns:

“Do a Few, and Do Them Well”

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any music programs these days still receive the majority of their funding from school budgets. However, for those who must raise money on their own to enable participation in festivals, perfor-

mance tours, or other special projects that fall beyond the scope of typical school funding, it doesn’t have to be a lonely process. While some fundraising campaigns may be independently organized and executed, there are also thousands of companies that specialize in assisting non-profit groups, like school music programs and their boosters, with maximizing campaign profits and minimizing the effort involved. Jon Krueger is the executive director of a trade organization comprised of such companies, the Association for Fund Raising Distributors and Suppliers (AFRDS). Choral Director recently caught up with Mr. Krueger, who gives some insight into the latest trends in fundraising, as well as some tips for maximizing bang for the buck, and focusing efforts.

Choral Director: What are some the trends in fundraising that you’re seeing, particularly as it relates to efforts by school music programs? Jon Krueger: There is some data out there that I have seen that indicates many schools are doing more and more fundraising. Better said, the tendency is to run more campaigns. The budget gaps are getting bigger, and it’s getting more and more difficult for schools to fund everything they need to in order to provide their students with a well-rounded education. That’s been the case for many years, but it’s especially true in recent years. There 8

Choral Director • September 2012

is a tendency among school music groups, just like with PTOs and other school groups, to think, “We need to raise more money, so we should do more fundraising campaigns.” Our organization encourages pretty much any fundraising group, especially at the school level, to do what they can to reduce the total number of fundraisers that they run. We have a mantra among our members, and they share it with their customers, that goes, “Do a few and do them well.” In other words, have a good game plan for your fundraiser, say at the beginning of the year. Iden-

tify those programs that have worked well in the past. Work with your fundraising professional to find out what other groups in the community are doing, but in any way that you can, try to cut down on the fundraising noise. Parents, supporters, and other people in the community are getting hit more and more with fundraising requests of all types – and it’s not just schools; it could be Girl Scouts or Little League – and eventually apathy starts to set in. According to our members – and a lot of our members have been in the industry for many, many years – one or two well-executed fundraisers at the


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school or school group level will oftentimes outperform four, five, or six fundraisers. If you run too many, you’ll essentially cannibalize your support base over the course of the year. CD: That makes sense, even though it might be a little counterintuitive. JK: Right, it’s not quite a paradigm shift, but it’s something that you need to let sink in a little bit, if not really think through. A lot of times groups are so eager to get something out there to bring in some money that they don’t necessarily end up doing it in the most effective way. It is often much better to have a plan, a more strategic approach to the overall fundraising efforts that will take place throughout the year. Professional fundraising programs should be able to help with that process. CD: Speaking of strategy, is there a rubric for determining the most effective fundraising campaign for a given community? Who should sell products versus gift cards or whatever else? JK: To find the best fit takes a multipronged approach. A lot of organiza-

tions should look at their history and what’s worked well for a particular community, especially what’s been popular with a group’s supporters. We have done some opinion polling and market research over the years asking school groups which fundraisers have been the most profitable and, consistently, the most prevalent answer is product sales. There are other fundraisers that can be really effective depending on the community, organization, and goals of the campaign, but it does seem like

Another thing to consider when planning a fundraising campaign is how much volunteer support there is for your organization – what it is going to take to actually pull off these events. Even if you do have a strong volunteer base, do you want to put all of their efforts into a fundraiser? Or you want to do something that only requires a portion of your resources there, leaving open the option to apply the remaining volunteer resources to other activities outside of fundraising? Gen-

“What we’re trying to do as an organization is help people focus their fundraising efforts, cutting down on the total number of campaigns and really focusing on planning and executing the ones that are the most effective.” traditional product sales continue to do well. There are several reasons for this: it’s a tried-and-true method; people know how it works and are familiar with it; and it’s something that people identify with school fundraisers.

erally speaking, product sales is one fundraiser that doesn’t suck up a lot of volunteer support time. We’ve asked the questions over the years about the average number of volunteers it takes to execute different types of fundraising programs, and for product sales, it’s much fewer than something like a carnival or walk-a-thon. In the newsroom section of our website, www.afrds.org, there are materials that talk more specifically about some of the figures and facts associated with various fundraising campaigns, the most profitable fundraisers, number of volunteers per fundraiser, and so on. CD: Has there been a push for more “green” or “eco-friendly” products in fundraising? JK: There is an emphasis from some suppliers for green or eco-friendly products, but I wouldn’t say that it’s something that’s too prevalent today. As it has been for many years in fundraising, the traditional, tried-and-true products tend to dominate the marketplace. This includes things that people typically think about when it comes to product fundraising: gift wrap, food items, gift items, magazine subscrip-

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tions – those continue to be the major players in the market. As far as green or eco-friendly items, there hasn’t been a lot of chatter about that to me directly, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not out there among our member companies. CD: Has the slow recovery from the recession that took place several years ago had an impact on the fundraising industry?

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JK: It’s kind of ironic. With the economic recession, the fundraising industry as a whole has taken its lumps and bruises just like every other industry, but the flipside of that is that because of all the government budget cuts, the demand for the service is probably as strong as it has ever been. What we’re trying to do as an organization is help people focus their fundraising efforts, cutting down on the total number of campaigns and really focusing on planning and executing the ones that are the most effective. That’s why we suggest working with a professional and becoming involved with product sales in general, because of what we know about how effective they are.

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Choral Director • September 2012

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maraderie. These Confidence. Character. Ca Disney Performing are the three tenets of the ce to perform Arts program. The confiden The character on the grandest of stages. osen craft. And the required to perfect your ch l to come together camaraderie that’s essentia group takes part in as a team. And when your program– whether a Disney Performing Arts y will learn, al– these are the skills the tiv fes or p ho rks wo a or ce this shared that’s in a performan group of artists bonded by ive lus exc an of rt pa ing building sharpen and refine, becom r ensemble’s talents while you en gth en str to nt Wa ce. 1-866-254-7431 to learn once-in-a-lifetime experien your travel planner or call ct nta Co r? eve for t las t memories tha ing Arts opportunities. more about Disney Perform

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From the Trenches

Ready or Not

Teacher Evaluations Are Coming By Bob Morrison

W

e have all heard the stories about how teachers need

to be held accountable for student growth. I suspect most people would not disagree with this statement. Where there is plenty of debate and disagreement, though, is “how?” For subjects like language arts and math, where there are statewide assessments to measure student performance, the task of tying student growth to teacher evaluation may be easier. Notice I said, “may.” Just because something is possible does not mean it is the proper thing to do and there is plenty of debate about tying student test scores to teacher evaluations. But here is the reality: tying teacher performance (for all teachers) to student achievement and student growth is a freight train rolling down the railroad track, and it is heading down hill. The national movement to tie teachers assessment to student outcomes will be the “new normal” for teachers across this country… including you, music and arts educators.

14

Choral Director • September 2012

“The hard reality we face is that either the music education field comes up with a solution or series of solutions or we will have one imposed upon us.” This leads to the logical question: “How will this be accomplished?” And the answer the profession has right now is: “We do not know!” And this is the scariest statement of all. Here is why: School districts across the nation are moving to tie teacher assessments to student outcomes. Many states have mandated these programs

be in place as early as the 2013/2014 school year. This creates a challenge for all subjects that are in the “non-tested” category (think all arts, world languages, social studies, some sciences, physical education, and more). In essence, nearly 80 percent of teachers in the United States teach “non-tested” subjects. This does not mean it will keep


the administrators from implementing something – anything – just so they may say they are doing as they are told. So here is the rub: our profession has yet to come up with a solution to this issue and school administrators are actively seeking answers. The hard reality we face is that either the music education field comes up with a solution or series of solutions or we will have one imposed upon us by people who have no idea about what we do in the classroom or what we are really trying to accomplish. And, in the second of those two options, I guarantee we will not like the solution. This is the scariest of thoughts. Already in some states we have heard music teachers will be measured by student outcomes in… math! Yep, you read correctly. All that training to allow you to become the most effective teacher possible (using music as your educational tool of choice) will be re-

duced down to a measure of something you have no influence or control over. This is what is at stake. So, here is what needs to happen: • Get over it – this issue is not going away. Ignoring it will only put our profession at greater risk. • Get a plan. There are plenty of districts that are trying out ideas on ways to meet the administrators’ objectives. In June, NAfME hosted a National Symposium on Music Assessment and Teacher Evaluation to tackle this very issue. Visit nafme.org or musicstandards.org. • Be sure to reach out to other music educators and your state music educators association to connect with those who may be tackling the same issues. • Use social media to find and connect with your peers who are interested in this issue. The hash tags

#musiced #musedchat are great places to start. The reality of teacher evaluation systems in music is coming fast. It will be up to all of us in the music education field to ensure that the systems being implemented will measure our teachers based on their area of expertise and student growth… music. Robert B. Morrison is the founder of Quadrant Arts Education Research, an arts education research and intelligence organization. In addition to other related pursuits in the field of arts education advocacy, Mr. Morrison has helped create, found, and run Music for All, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, and, along with Richard Dreyfuss and the late Michael Kaman, the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. He may be reached directly at bobm@artsedresearch.org.

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Choral Director • September 2012

15


Survey: Survival Guide

Obstacles and Lifelines

Sounding off:

S

urviving in vocal music education isn’t easy.

Between funding, red tape, scheduling constraints, standardized testing, increasing de-

mand for teacher accountability, changing technology, and a host of other non-musical concerns, school choral directors have an awful lot to worry about. And that doesn’t even touch upon the challenges within the classroom itself. This recent reader survey aims to uncover those elements most critical for survival and success among school choral directors: most common challenges and obstacles, lifelines, support and funding, as well as the most helpful tools in choral classrooms. Pinpointing these pressing issues and, in particular, how vocal music educators across the country deal with them, might provide an assist for those choral directors looking for a leg up. Whether a chance to see how others let off steam or to pick up a tip, this glimpse into choral classrooms is sure to have something of interest for anyone in the field. What is the primary obstacle standing in the way of achieving all of your goals as a vocal music educator?

34%

Nothing gets in my way!

5

33%

Funding

2

16%

Administrative support

1

8%

Student enthusiasm/talent

4

5% 4% 16

Choral Director • September 2012

Facilities/equipment Parental/Community support


“After eight years of teaching, I stopped making excuses for why we weren’t going on tours and doing the challenges I wanted to give the singers and did it! You can find money if you can delegate and make the time. It is true though that you have to lay the ground work with setting up your plan.” Natalie Miller Oak Ridge High School El Dorado Hills, Calif. “Scheduling, and retaining kids with the many college classes now offered in high school makes it impossible for some kids to stay in choir. How can you expect them to choose between cheap college credits and concert choir?” Susan Budd Lawrenceburg High School Lawrenceburg, Ind. “The one difficulty I face is that our school has an incredibly successful band program with a very charismatic director. Once I get kids in my program, they stay. The tough part is the initial recruiting. I must say, though, that the band director is very supportive of the choral program, and I always have some singers who are also in band.” Lynn Pernezny Wellington Landings Middle School Wellington, Fla. “I feel that I spend a lot of my energy on fundraising and this takes away from what I am best at.” Alberta Smith Central High School Springfield, Mo. If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing related to your music program, what would it be?

“Having choir during the school day. Right now, I have choir on Tuesdays and Thursdays. With only two hours of instruction per week after school, competing for time with kids is tough.” Ken Kleager, III Jane Addams Middle School Bolingbrook, Ill. “I would have an assistant director so that we could offer more choirs.” Michelle Byrn Caston School Corporation Fulton, Ind.

34%

Nothing in mylevels. way! The students, par“My time andgets energy ents, and administration are amazing... I just wish I 33% had moreFunding time and energy to make it an even better program.” 16% Administrative support Joy Augustine Des Moines Christian School 8% Student enthusiasm/talent Urbandale, Iowa

5%

Facilities/equipment “I would have create more connections between school and community music programs.” 4% Parental/Community support Mary Lynn Doherty Northern Illinois University DeKalb, Ill.

Which of these areas is most challenging for younger/inexperienced teachers?

41%

Time management

32%

In-class instruction

14%

Funding/fundraising

11%

Working with Administration

2%

Incorporating technology

“Although we have some very well prepared young teachers, it is sometimes a challenge for them to simplify concepts so that students understand the basics and can move forward. Classroom Grants/Donations/sponsorships management can also be an issue.” Dianne Johnson 13% County Board of Education Jefferson Birmingham, Ala. “Until you have proven yourself as a leader in School Budgetthe respect and cothe classroom and have earned Fundraising operation of33% your students, I don’t believe any of 54% the other listed areas will matter, will work, or are particularly needed. Unfortunately, gaining leadership, respect, and cooperation have little to do with the subject matter we spent our college years preparing to teach.” Leah Baskin Rock Valley Children’s Choir Rockford, Ill.

Choral Director • September 2012

17


Funding

16%

Administrative support

8%

Student enthusiasm/talent

18%

What is the biggest source of funding for your music program? 5% Facilities/equipment

4%

Friends & family A Projector/Smart Board

Incorporating technology

Parental/Community support Grants/Donations/sponsorships

13%

4%

6%associations – ACDA, NAfME, etc. Music ed Piano/Accompanist 2%

A mentor SmartMusic/Finale “Our district has a wonderful music coordinator who is available for support. I also talk with the band and orchestra 1% I’m all alone – help! teachers here at school.” Jackie Foster Sneed Middle School Florence, S.C.

What is your most helpful teaching tool?

Fundraising

School Budget

33%

41%

Time management

32%

In-class instruction

14%

Funding/fundraising

54%

29%

Humor

18%

Computers/YouTube/the Internet

16%

Festivals/competitions/honors choirs

13%

My own experience/creativity

9%

11%

Working What/who is with yourAdministration most effective lifeline for support?

2%

Incorporating technology

53%

Nearby colleagues

24%

Friends & family

18%

Music ed associations – ACDA, NAfME, etc.

4%

A mentor Grants/Donations/sponsorships

1%

I’m all alone – help! 13%

School

“We all have to be careful Budget not to let our ‘friend tanks’ get Fundraising too close to empty. This profession is very time consuming 54% and it is 33% easy to get out of balance.” Chris Fowler Buford High School Buford, Ga.

29%

Humor

“My lifelines have changed through the years. As a young 18% Computers/YouTube/the Internet teacher, I don’t know how I would have made it without ACDA and NAfME and my connection with music colleagues 16% two organizations. Now, Ichoirs within theseFestivals/competitions/honors find myself in more of a mentor position giving back to ACDA and NAfME and 13% relying moreMyonown myexperience/creativity colleagues within my school building for support and opportunities to vent.” 9% Guest clinicians Peggy Leonardi Bucheit Hamilton Middle & High Schools 7% A Projector/Smart Board Hamilton, Mt.

18

6%

Piano/Accompanist

2%

SmartMusic/Finale

Choral Director • September 2012

Guest clinicians

7%

A Projector/Smart Board

6%

Piano/Accompanist

2%

SmartMusic/Finale

“Although I am an accomplished pianist, my accompanist is my absolute right-hand person! I require an accompanist at my school who is competent and can almost read my mind. That person must be knowledgeable and enjoys being in the classroom with the students.” Connie Coleman Bixby High School Familiarity with Bixby, Okla. technology (or lack thereof )

“I can do a lot with humor! We just got Smart Boards this week, and I know that will be helpful. I’m also hoping to get Finale (which I had years ago). I learn a great deal at festivals and competitions.” Judy Abrams Leonard J. Tyl Middle School Oakdale, Conn. “I find so many wonderful teaching tools on the Internet. I am able to research each choral piece to make sure that my students are informed about the nuts and bolts of each of their pieces.” Megan Wicks-Rudolph Vestavia Hills High School Vestavia Hills, Ala.

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CDUpClose: Sarah Baker

“

A lot of them will never have this experience again. So I feel like it’s my job to just take them to the highest level that I possibly can.


Cincinnati inderellas C

How a small Ohio choir in dire financial straits climbed the podium at the World Choir Games By Matt Parish

For one week in July this year, the entire international choral world centered on an event in the United States – the World Choir Games in Cincinnati, Ohio. A gathering of thousands of singers from around the world, the event features competition in dozens of categories and countless musical styles in performances that last all day long and spill out into the lobbies and streets of the city. Many of the world’s most talented students and educators were in attendance and more than a handful of unforgettable performances graced the stage at US Bank Arena.


One of the best success stories from the Games, though, was that of hometown underdog Little Miami Select Women’s Chorale, who overcame years of budget cuts and a failing school financial system to score an unexpected silver medal in the “Youth Choirs for Equal Voices” category. Just two years ago, the school was placed in the state’s care after being designated a fiscal emergency (one of seven such districts in the state) after years operating with no money. Vital arts, music, and gym classes were cut completely through-

out many of the elementary schools in the district. The district’s sole choir instructor, Sarah Baker, didn’t let that deter her. Through old fashioned hard work and determination, this native of rural Ohio kept her students on task and prepared for one of the biggest stages in the choral world. Baker overcame challenges like getting kids to competitions without busses, planning a high school program with no feeder system, and orchestrating a full calendar of fundraising events throughout the year to get the

choir to that esteemed place in the final standings. No easy feat. Now the choir has been selected to perform at the Ohio Music Education Association Professional Conference this winter in Columbus and, beyond that, has been automatically granted a spot in the 2014 World Choir Games in Latvia, both of which present their own comprehensive set of challenges. For now, though, Choral Director wanted to check in with this uniquely accomplished director to talk about the different ways she’s managed, with extremely limited resources, to get such incredible results. Choral Director: Congratulations on your medal at the Choir Games! It’s great to talk to so soon after your performance there. Sarah Baker: I was so excited! It was really awesome for me and the girls in the ensemble to see just how important it is – all the stuff that they do. I don’t think they’ve ever been received by an audience quite like that. I mean our girls have been received with standing ovations and cheers before, but this was – we felt like rock stars. CD: You’ve found yourself in a fairly unique and challenging position. What’s the situation like in the Little Miami School District? SB: There have been nine failed levies since I started here 12 years ago. They finally passed a levy last November, but by then the district was declared insolvent and the state had taken over. So now we have a state appointed board that our school board has to work in conjunction with to get approval with for anything. The state has control of all the money in our district. They cut all the primary music classes – from K-5 or 6, there was no music. No elementary music, art, or physical education. So a lot of teachers were cut or were moved into other positions. It’s been quite an adjustment. We have an excellent band program in middle school and that band director’s program was slashed a lot. They went down to bare bones – intermediate band and junior high

22

Choral Director • September 2012


I don’t think they’ve ever been received by an audience quite like that. I mean our girls have been received with standing ovations and cheers before, but this was – we felt like rock stars.

band. He had a wonderful jazz band program and they cut all that. We had a 7th and 8th grade choir in our program up until three years ago, which I taught my first two years here. For 2012-2013, there are no junior high choirs at all. CD: So you’re basically at the end of your high school students who have known training. It’s time to see what it’s like with no choral feeder program. SB: Right. A lot of students are coming to us now who have never had any music training at all. It’s probably been four or five years since they’ve had any real study of music of any kind in elementary school. My students in the auditioned choir usually have a different mindset when they come in – they do more things like singing in church or in local choirs like the Cincinnati Children’s Choir and that kind of thing. But when you get students to come into the other choirs that have never been in a choir before, you have

to start from scratch. They couldn’t even tell you what a staff was. CD: Are there any funding issues with what you do with your choirs throughout the day? SB: I basically get no funding from the school. I used to have $3,000 -5,000 a year in the budget, which was wonderful. I could buy music, tune my pianos, and buy other little things to help out, but I haven’t had that for years. The students have to pay a $10 fee to be in the choir and that’s how I tune pianos and purchase music. CD: So then do you have to raise a significant amount of money through fundraising? SB: I find that we make the most money when I take our select choirs out in public and we perform everywhere that we possibly can. People just give us donations. We did 13 performances in December alone. When my women’s chorale was

nominated for the Champion’s Division in the Choir Games, we had to raise $3,000 by December. No funding from the school was available, so we went out and sang at concert after concert. We got anywhere between $100 and $200 for every little concert that we’d do. CD: Where were you performing?

SB: We did a show at the Cincinnati Women’s Club, the Cincinnati Country Club, some churches – we were really fortunate that we did a community Christmas concert here in Lebanon where one lady felt so sorry for us that she wrote a $1,000 check the next week. It was amazing. If it hadn’t have been for her and another couple from my church, where the girls performed one Sunday morning, it would have been tough. There was another church up the road from the high school that gave us $1,500. That’s the easiest way for us to make money, but it does take time. Choral Director • September 2012

23


CD: Do you get a lot of volunteer effort? SB: I have a handful of parents that step forward to do the things like the bake sales and carwashes and those kinds of things. Concerts and stuff, driving kids places. Our high schools haven’t had bussing for two or three years. So when we go to contests or anything like that, we’re always carpooling. When we went to Cincinnati for the Games, my superintendent and the transportation director did provide bussing for us, because it was five solid days of going down and back between here and the city. So we were really grateful that they did that. CD: Sounds like the cuts have been pretty substantial across the board! SB: People just want to go down to “bare bones” education. “We just need reading, writing, and arithmetic. We don’t need phys-ed. We don’t need music. We don’t need the ‘extra stuff.’” They all call it “extra stuff.” They think because they economy is tough, we just need to cut everything. CD: Have you seen an effect on the kids since the programs have been cut? SB: I think the morale is low. They don’t have the outlets they used to have. Several years ago, I also directed the high school musicals and I got to see how excited the kids were to do those kinds of things. Lots of honors students and other kids who didn’t have many opportunities anywhere else had a place there to shine. It was somewhere they could feel valued in what they did. I think when you work with kids every day and you see the effect that it has on them, then you understand. I really think people would have hollered if they cut all the athletics. They’re not so noisy when they cut K-3 art, music, and phys-ed, but I bet if we didn’t have football on Friday nights, people would be upset. I love sports and I ran cross country and did track and played softball in high school. And I was in the marching band. It isn’t that I’m against athletics, but I think we need to be fair to all the 24

Choral Director • September 2012

students in what they’re doing. CD: And like you’re saying, there are large groups who don’t get fulfilled from those sports. SB: My daughter, who is a junior this year, is a straight A student, and having the outlet of singing in choir is just something she needs. She’d get burnt out throughout the day without that chance to just focus on something like singing. And she’s in my top ensemble, so it’s not like she’s doing easy pieces. They’re very challenging in their own right, but it’s a different kind of challenge. CD: Have you been able to find some kind of outside support from other organizations with grants or awards? SB: I’ve applied for grants from people that are OMEA sponsored. Last year, there were a couple of different grants that I applied for like the Glee Give-a-Note Foundation and the Grammy Foundation. We’ve had really bad luck with grants because we don’t have free and reduced lunch programs and things like that. People look at our school district from the outside and they see a district that should be able to finance itself. We’re not an inner city school, we don’t live in an old coal mining town – I mean, it’s just really hard to convince a corporation or a foundation that we need money. CD: How is the choral social network in your area for helping out? SB: I have a lot of friends in the area that are choir directors and band

AT A GLANCE Little Miami High School

Location: 3001 East US 22 & 3, Morrow, Ohio On the Web: www.littlemiamischools.com Students in the Choral Program: 140 Total enrolled at LMHS: 895

directors, and sometimes just having their encouragement to keep going is the best help. Maybe the students don’t realize just how much you’re doing for them right now, but someday they’ll get it. Being reminded of that is great. I’m really good friends with Charles R. Snyder, who directs the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir, for which I was on staff full-time for eight years. My college professor from OU – I’ll call these people sometimes just weeping. “What am I gonna do?” And my husband is probably the most unsung hero in the whole thing. I don’t know how many times I just wanted to quit, but being a musician himself – he’s a brass teacher – he just gets what I do and he knows just how much work and heart and soul you have to put into these things. CD: And through it all, you and the choir made it to the Games. How was that? SB: Just to be around people from all the different countries and singing everywhere was incredible. People were singing in the convention hall, singing in the busses, singing on the sidewalks – everywhere you went, there were people singing. And I have girls that would do that in our hallways at school and people would tell them to stop! Why would you do that? It’s so much better than listening to profane language from these other kids yelling at each other and everything. You’re gonna yell at somebody for singing? It was nice to see that freedom and great for the kids to see that. CD: How did the Games differ from their typical competition?


SB: It’s more relaxed. At the Choir Games, people could take pictures whenever they wanted. They were able to celebrate what the kids were doing, and they’re able to feel the energy more. We get wonderful responses from our OMEA audiences, but sometimes I feel like it needs to be golf claps. [laughs] At the World Choir Games, we felt like people could stand and cheer at the end of the performance and not be afraid of being penalized if they did that. People were really good about it – they’d stay in their seats and take their little snapshots and not do it during an actual song. I didn’t feel like it was distracting at all – I just thought it gave the girls so much positive energy. The thing that I like about OMEA is that we’re able to get feedback from colleagues. That really helps us build in our learning and our skill. At the World Choir Games, if you wanted to receive feedback from judges, you had to participate in an evaluation session. My girls were the guest choir for a workshop session and we got to work with a director from Singapore. The girls and I had to dive into learning something in Mandarin, which was really exciting because none of us had ever done something like that before! We really had the opportunity

to broaden our horizons with all this multi-cultural music. CD: Were you notified of the results of the completion soon after your performance? SB: No. Our performance was the first full day of the games, so we had to wait three more full days before we could find out how we did! They put us on this big stage in US Bank Arena, and they go through every category, every single choir, and announce in front of all those people what your score was and what medal you earned. It was exciting, but I was a nervous wreck that whole day. I don’t think my girls could have sung any better than they did, though. They just sung their heart out. They ranked with all the other international choirs and they should be bursting at the seams with pride. I’m not sure they really understand the caliber of the event, but they don’t need to. CD: Is there anything with that choir in particular that you try to focus on? SB: I try to get them to do as many different kinds of pieces as we possibly can. We do everything from renaissance pieces to 20th Century stuff.

We do jazz, we do pop, and we do classical. We have pieces written specifically for women’s choirs. There’s nothing but a high expectation for that group. They do pieces that professional women’s choirs and college women’s choirs would do. The level of commitment is very high. A lot of girls aren’t going into music and – not that that’s necessary in college to participate in a choir – but a lot of them won’t and will never have this experience again. So I feel like it’s my job to just take them to the highest level that I possibly can. CD: Sounds like an ethic that could translate well to the rest of their lives. SB: I totally credit my parents for it. Growing up on that farm an hour and a half away from any big city, I didn’t have all the opportunities that I might have had if I was closer to a city. But I did have activities like local community theater, church, and 4H clubs, and I never saw two people work harder than my parents. I think they instilled that in me. One of the stories I told my girls before the Games was about the experience I had with the horses, showing horses in 4H. I didn’t have the $20,000 horse. I didn’t have the private trainer.

Choral Director • September 2012

25


was too young to ride by myself and he’d say, “We need to practice this, this, and this.” My parents were not horse people and my dad was not a trainer – he had no idea. He asked a lot of questions, though. A lot of questions. I told the girls, “Do you know how gratifying it was to know how hard I’d worked, especially if I’d go in and win a class, or even place really high in the class, knowing that I was competing against people who maybe had more things and more money?” When you know that you can compete with people, it means a lot. The costs do add up and it would be a lot easier, but if you have something in your heart, you can either sit there Sarah Baker with Little Miami’s silver medal at the and feel sorry for yourself or you 2012 World Choir Games. can try to make it work. I always tell the kids that I cannot do this I didn’t have the best of everything unless they want to do this with me. It you could possibly have. But what I takes so much of that teamwork. I’ve had was determination. My dad would got a really great crew of singers. stand in the middle of the ring when I

SB: The 2014 World Choir Games is in Latvia so we’re going to need to raise close to $2,000 per student to go. With the success that we’ve had and all the challenges on the way to being successful, I want to be sure that we can get that done. So I have a wonderful parent who is being my champion by looking for corporate sponsorship, and that’s something we’re investigating this year. We’re going to work on getting grants and refining that strategy – we need to find a different way to convince people that we need help. I just know that I have to keep pushing because the success these kids will feel is going to carry over to whatever to whatever career they choose. You just have to put your head down and keep working.

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Performance: Sight Singing

‘The Cloud’ Empowering Developing Sight Singers By Adam Wurst

A

sk most students to sight sing by themselves or in a small group and you are sure to witness a reaction of dread or even terror. Many developing singers admit to feeling inad-

equate when reading music, let alone reading music unaided, in front of peers, or for an assessment. Compounding the issue for singers includes the psychological effects of the quality of their musicianship reflecting in direct proportion to their ability to sight read. Performance anxiety and basic musicianship skills come together in a “perfect storm” of questions such as “What do I do first?” “How do I find my first pitch?” and “How do I know I did well?” As teachers, we may spend adequate amounts of time training our choirs to sight sing as an ensemble only to find that students still require additional help when having to read by themselves. In a group setting, it may be easier for students to recall the steps for working through an exercise but quickly forget what to do next when performance pressure and anxiety weigh in. The Internet provides many resources that give developing musicians the confidence needed when preparing to sight read independently. Using these technology resources, primarily 28

Choral Director • September 2012

through “drill and practice” methods, reinforces the concepts of theory and ear training taught during rehearsals as well as develops independent skills for your singers, which encourages greater confidence and assurance. Drill and practice methods using quality Internet tools are highly effective in reinforcing theory and ear training concepts from the rehearsal. Research from the Malawi Institute of Education supports this method especially in the development of language learning: “Drill is the repeated hearing and use of a particular item. This technique is most helpful in language learning. As a form of repetition, drills enable one to focus sharply on particular points… and can be fun if the teacher is lively and enthusiastic about it.”1 Particular strengths of providing drill and practice ear training activities through online resources include in-


creasing pupils’ understanding of previous work, sharpening the skill under practice, and providing a foundation on which higher level cognitive skills can be built. Before introducing some incredible Web resources for your Theory and Ear Training Toolbox let’s address some caveats: • For clarity, this article will interchangeably use sight “sing” and “read” for teachers who may use one term over the other. • The article will strive to provide as many quality resources for a variety of age groups and musical development without entering into an indepth review of the pros and cons of each website. • The focus will be geared toward the development and reinforcement of the singer as an individual. While many of the resources may be used in a group setting, the intention is to offer suggestions for strengthening the ability and confidence for each singer independently. • This article will focus on the Internet resources that provide performance-based ear training exercises as opposed to strictly providing “worksheet” type drills for theory. One of the most comprehensive music theory resources on the Internet is Ricci Adams’ musictheory.net (Figure 1). This flash-based website offers musicians the opportunity to interact with theory lessons, exercises, and oth-

Figure 1

er tools. An added benefit is that students can download a copy for use when they are not online. I have used musictheory. net successfully with both middle and high school students in small group and individ- Figure 2 ual settings. While the lessons portion of the site is very good, the power for developing sight singing skills is found in the exercises area.2 There are 13 varieties of trainers each capable of being customized for student’s specific need of drill and practice. Of particular interest is the ability to customize the sound used in the ear training demonstrations. Using electronic sounds in the ear training of singers has long been known to be less effective than an acoustic instrument. However, using a flute or clarinet sound has produced greater results and much improved accuracy when working with my students. Perhaps my favorite feature in this rich training toolbox is the ability to show or print a Progress Report at the end of an activity (Figure 2). This feature has proven quite valuable in gauging students’ progress and keeping them accountable in their quality of work. Particularly helpful is the information that reflects how many exercises were skipped in the process of completing the activity.

Learning to sight read is similar to learning a different language. Actually, thinking of the process of sight reading as processing multiple languages at once may be more helpful as we consider why developing musicians struggle with the concept: “Suppose you had studied a second language. You can read well-formed sentences composed by someone else if they are given to you in writing, but you can’t converse easily. You can understand spoken phrases if you can listen to a recording of them repeatedly and write them out, but you can’t deal with them quickly enough to have a conversation. You can make phrases yourself, but not in real time. You have to write them out and make lots of revisions. Would you call yourself fluent?”3 Sight singing involves a complex variety of musical languages such as pitch, rhythm, melody, articulation, and expression. Add to these musical elements the use of sight singing “language” such as Solfege, numbers, or neutral syllables and it becomes clear why it is important to be able to focus on various skill sets one at a time. JTheory Creations’ eMusicTheory offers a tool for rhythm performance and rhythm dictation that connects what the student hears with what they see as well as giving them a chance to perform the example (Figure 3). An interesting feature is the ability to play sounds during the exercise or turn all sounds off. Setting the sounds to “No” causes the drill to use a flashing metronome instead of an audible click

School Band and Orchestra • September 2012

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Figure 3

(Figure 4). When focusing in on this feature there was a group of students in each class that expressed much higher success when concentrating on the flashing metronome rather than interacting with sound. Finding a quality ear training cloud resource that is fully customizable yet simple enough for developing singers to use independently was not difficult. José Rodríguez Alvira’s Teoria.com is a musician’s powerhouse, which can be fully personalized for the specific ear training areas that need to be developed (Figures 5 and 6). Teoria.com is a web resource that can provide constant guidance in developing and maintaining the musician’s ear through every stage of development. Its robust customization of features allows for skill development and training for intermediate to advanced musicians. Adding variety to drill and practice through timed exercises, limiting tests with a maximum time to answer, focusing on ascending or descending intervals only, studying variations of clefs, and offering a variety of methods for inputting answers, make this an incredible educational resource. To encourage my students further, as well as vary the theory environment, I have developed small groups or teams to work together in a “competitive” setting using Teoria.com. Having students work together in a timed setting inspires teamwork and imposes pressure to answer quickly and correctly. In an 30

Choral Director • September 2012

Figure 4

Online Ear Trainers

The resources listed here are online and, at the time of this article, do not require purchase or membership

Ricci Adams’ www.musictheory.net www.musictheory.net

A comprehensive resource for beginning to intermediate musicians. Lessons and exercises are available for independent skill development. The progress report is a unique and easy way to track students individual progress for monitoring mastery.

JTheory Concepts

emusictheory.com/practice

A good tool for beginning dictation, especially rhythm dictation. An excellent option of allowing for hearing the dictation or turning off the sound and only seeing the dictation.

Neil Hawes Learn to SightSing

www.neilhawes.com/sstheory/sitesing.htm

An interesting and somewhat unique beginning point for sight readers that encourages reproducing a note and actively listening to your voice. This resource would be more powerful with an online tuner so the young singer could visually gauge intonation.

Ear Training Guide

eartraining.tumblr.com/tagged/Ear_Training_Online_Tools

Not a very user-friendly website that provides a moderate resource for cloud-based sight reading tools.

Online Ear Trainer 2.0

www.iwasdoingallright.com/tools/ear_training/main

A great resource that is able to be customized for very complex interval and chord training. Would have gotten 5 stars if there was a way to view accuracy and progress.

Music Tech Teacher

www.musictechteacher.com

By the sheer number of resources in the games and music help section, this free resource is a powerful arsenal for the music teacher. Graphics and interactivity keep younger students engaged and entertained while learning fundamental music concepts.

Teoria Music Theory Web www.Teoria.com

The most comprehensive and customizable cloud resource for intermediate to advanced musicians. Complex ear training drills include basic and jazz progressions with immediate feedback as to the student’s progress. Utilizes melody and chord training.


Figure 5

Figure 6

effort to succeed, students will create a peer teaching environment, explaining the theory concept in a supercharged tempo of the game in order for the developing student to “win one for the team.� Similarly, students who become bored with the process of sight reading, dictation, or theory can be reenergized by being paired with another student who is not experiencing success. Additionally, it instills a pride and camaraderie when the singers succeed together. The Internet has always provided a forum for tools, tips, and strategies to be shared and developed among professionals and interest groups. Having access to free quality tools on the cloud affords the opportunity for musicians to develop skills apart from having to purchase programs and software that can be cost prohibitive. Costly updates are no longer an issue thereby outdating a valuable software investment. Using purchased software in a large group rehearsal environment which is intended for individual application does not promote tailored instruction in the same way that ear training and theory websites support personalized progress. It is important to realize the goals of assessment in developing singers. When is the point where musicians need to be encouraged for their effort regardless of level of accuracy and success? How can the effective teacher create an opportunity for students who may struggle and fail when asked to sight read individually or in a small group setting? The most important aspect to sight singing successfully, whether in a group setting

School Band and Orchestra • September 2012

31


or in an individual or small group setting, is consistency and frequency. It takes time to develop the skills necessary for successful sight reading. It takes time to reinforce the skills needed to recall things at a quick pace. It takes time to practice developing skills so they become second nature. After all, independent singers make for more confident singers, who make for a better choir. Adam Wurst is currently serving as director of vocal music at Allendale Middle School, overseeing more than 250 students each day in six curricular gender-based choirs. Adam is an active member of the Michgian School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) having served as a State Solo & Ensemble supervisor, hosting choral festivals and 6-7-8-9 Honors Choir rehearsals; he is currently an active adjudicator and serves as the state technology coordinator. Adam actively supports the collaboration between public education and professional artists, having introduced performers, authors, composers, and master teachers into the classroom setting. He has presented at the MSVMA Summer Workshop, the Midwestern Music Conference, and the Michigan Music Conference with topics relating to recruitment, working with boy’s changing voices, and improving communication and organization through technology. 1 Malawi Institute of Education. Participatory Teaching And Learning: A Guide to Methods and Techniques. Domasi: Malawi Institute of Education, 2004. 3-4. Malawi Institute of Education. Web. 6 Aug. 2011. www.equip123.net/equip1/mesa/docs/ParticipatoryTeachingLearning.pdf. 2 Adams, Ricci. Ricci Adams’ musictheory.net. Ed. Ricci Adams. N.p., n.d. Web. www.MusicTheory.net. 3 Murphy, John. IWasDoingAllRight. N.p., 5 Jan. 2006. Web. 6 Aug. 2011. www.iwasdoingallright.com>.

Figure 7

 

Figure  7  

32

Choral Director • September 2012


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Commemorating Anniversaries

Musical & Historical Anniversaries in 2013 By John C. Hughes

C

horal musicians enjoy a wealth of literature spanning more than five centuries. With the tremendous amount of compositions

from which to choose, programming a concert can easily become overwhelming. I’ve found choosing pieces based on the anniversary of world events or composers’ birth and death dates not only helps me narrow my search, but is also an incredibly useful tool to help students contextualize music within history. Consider programming these or other works by Britten, Dello Joio, Dowland, Hindemith, Poulenc, and Verdi. Because 2013 also marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Battle of Gettysburg, I’ve included several pieces to commemorate the Civil War. UNISON “Oliver Cromwell” Benjamin Britten (Boosey & Hawkes) Easy 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Benjamin Britten’s birth. While he may be best known to choral musicians for his “War Requiem” and “Five Flower Songs,” Britten also wrote wonderful music for younger voices. His setting of this Suffolk nursery rhyme is whimsical with an imaginative piano part. Students will enjoy this piece’s lightheartedness and silly text. bit.ly/s7jert

34

Choral Director • September 2012

SSA “What If I Never Speed?” John Dowland, arr. Russell Robinson (Carl Fischer) Medium-Easy This is a wonderful introduction to the music of John Dowland. Celebrate the 450th anniversary of his birth by programming this interesting madrigal. Students will enjoy the beautiful homophony and be challenged by the brief “echo”


passages. This adaptation is also available in a three-part mixed voicing. www.jwpepper.com/10048146. item

TTB “Tell My Father” Frank Wildhorn (Hal Leonard) Medium Easy Two important events of the Civil War will be remembered in 2013: the Emancipation Proclamation and the Battle of Gettysburg. Remember them at a concert by performing “Tell My Father,” from The Civil War: An American Musical, which received a Tony nomination for “Best Original Score” in 1999. The text is written from the perspective of a fallen soldier, making this piece very powerful. It not only offers an opportunity to feature a soloist, but also calls for an optional violin part, which, if feasible, would certainly add to the character of the piece. Audiences will be very moved by a performance of this wonderful work. bit.ly/upxyem “Say Love” John Dowland, arr. Patrick Liebergen (Alfred Music) Medium Easy

SAB “Oh, Freedom!” Arr. John Purifoy (Hal Leonard) Medium Easy “Oh, Freedom!” not only incorporates three important Civil War melodies (“Oh Freedom,” “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic”), but also draws words from the Emancipation Proclamation, making it a perfect piece to commemorate the 150th anniversary of that important document. With a Gospel-inspired piano part, not only would this piece serve as a wonderful concert closer, but it also would help inform your students of a key part of American history. It is also available in SATB and SSA voicings. bit.ly/pu4nik

commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Its dissonant and dark moments balance nicely with grand, lush harmonies. The piano part adds a sense of boldness and power. This piece would certainly create an emotional climax at any concert. It is also available in a TTB voicing. www.jwpepper.com/10302662. item “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves” Giuseppe Verdi (Oxford) Medium

SATB: “Legacy” Z. Randall Stroope (Heritage) Medium Legacy is a brand new piece by Z. Randall Stroope, written especially to

virginia international music festival at the norfolk nato festival april 25 – april 28, 2013

2013 will mark the 450th anniversary of John Dowland’s birth. Liebergen’s arrangement of this madrigal not only introduces male singers to the madrigal style, but also has a piano part to reinforce the harmonies. “Say Love” is an excellent teaching piece, and singers will enjoy the simple melody and rhythmic vitality. bit.ly/uds6bs

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In 2013, it will have been 200 years since the great Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi’s birth. Taken from his opera Nabucco (1842) and based on the Israelites’ captivity in Babylon, “Coro di Schiavi Ebrei” (“Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves”) offers a chance for choirs to sing a very famous opera chorus, as well as to sing in Italian, though the foreign language element is not necessary. This piece has been a standard in choral literature for a long time, and for good reason! www.jwpepper.com/3032653.item

frequent chromatic movement, this piece requires significant time and skill; however, its powerful climax, followed by a haunting repose, will have a lasting impact on performers and audiences alike. bit.ly/ujheom Six Chansons Paul Hindemith (Schott) Advanced

“Come to Me, My Love” Norman Dello Joio (Hal Leonard) Medium Advanced Norman Dello Joio is among the great American composers of the twentieth century, and 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of his birth. Dello Joio expertly captures the mystical and dark qualities of Christina Rossetti’s poem, “Echo.” With a dramatic piano part, lengthly a cappella sections, and

“Quatre Motets pour le temps de Noël” Francis Poulenc (Salabert) Advanced

Paul Hindemith died in 1963,

2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Poulenc’s death. Poulenc is, at times, remembered for loud, brash music. However, his “Quatre Motets pour le temps de Noël” are works of sublimity, depth, and complexity. They require well-developed skills in tuning, ensemble, and range. While difficult, once learned, the beauty of these pieces is intoxicating. Instead of doing the entire set, choose one or two. My favorites are O Magnum Mysterium and Videntes Stellam. www.jwpepper.com/3253333.item

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making 2013 the 50th anniversary of his death. A renowned composer and teacher, Hindemith is known for writing challenging yet rewarding pieces. Each of the six chansons is quite short and is strictly four parts; however, the independent lines and obscure harmonies require advanced training. The poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, in French, creates lovely, picturesque vignettes. It may not be necessary to do all six pieces; perhaps choose a few to create a shortened set. bit.ly/gn02hr

4/7/11 8:59 AM

John C. Hughes is a versatile choral musician and pedagogue, drawing from experience as a K-12 teacher, collegiate conductor, and church musician. Presently, Hughes is pursuing the D.M.A. in Choral Conducting and Pedagogy at The University of Iowa, as well as serving as a music director at a church in Iowa City. Please contact him directly at his website: www.johnchughes.com.


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