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Let Music Hug Your Soul


NON-PROFIT U.S. Postage Paid Austin, Texas Permit No. 789

TEXAS SINGS! Volume 27 Number 2 Winter 2011




Amy Allibon, Fort Worth

Let Music Hug Your Soul Today!


by Karen Bryan


Bob Horton, The Woodlands PRESIDENT ELECT

President’s Page


Reflect, Renew, Reinvent, Reconnect




by Amy Allibon

In Memoriam


Duane Doyle Gohlke Officer Comments



Phyllis King, Killeen

On the Cover:


Don’t miss the opportunities that you have to teach your students life lessons. As music teachers, we have avenues to reach students that other classes no longer have time for, thanks to state testing and other time constraints. Some of the most important and lasting things our children take from music class may not be about music theory at all.



Dan L Wood, Austin EDITOR


Elizabeth Gwyn of Tomball rehearses for the Elementary Honor Choir at the 2010 TCDA Convention in San Antonio.

James A Black, Coppell PUBLISHER

Good/Wood Associates PO Box 6472 Austin, Texas 78762



Official Publication of the Texas Choral Directors Association 7900 Centre Park Drive, Suite A Austin, TX 78754 512/474-2801 Copyright 2011 by Texas Choral Directors Association. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the Executive Director. TCDA is an affiliate of ACDA

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TCDA Mission Statement The mission of TCDA is to support and foster the success of Texas choral directors and music teachers and to instill a love of music in every Texas school, church, and community singer.

TCDA Members On-Line — The TCDA Member Database is password protected. Entry is very simple for members. When you click on “Member Database”, you will be asked for a username and password. Enter tcda and 2009 and you’re in!



Let Music Hug Your Soul Today! by Karen Bryan


hen I was Elementary State Chair of TMEA, this was my “signature” at the end of my magazine columns. It has since become my “signature” on my email, because I love the way it makes me feel when I read it. As we reflect back on the successes of the year, remember to include all the huggable moments as well. Sometimes these can serve as lifelines when you begin to question your effectiveness, your passion, or even your sanity. These are a few of my huggable moments throughout my career, and I pray that they trigger some personal memories from your own careers. One half of my classes come to me

Karen Bryan is in her 33rd year of teaching. She currently teaches at Foster Village Elementary in the Birdville ISD. She has served as Elementary Vice President of TCDA and of TMEA.


directly from PE, and there have been times when something that happened in the gym tried to spill over into the music room. I have a strict policy that those types of problems and conflicts must wait in the hallway until after music class. More often than not, at the end of class, the students will decide that what was so troublesome at the beginning isn’t such a big deal anymore. One of my students’ favorite songs is “It’s All Right”, from Music K-8, Vol. 18, Issue 4. My kids have fallen into deep, abiding like with this song. Whenever there’s a bad day for any of us, someone requests that song, and somehow the rain isn’t quite as oppressing, or the day quite as dreary. The next time you think all is lost and/or hopeless, pull out a class fav and see if the mood perks up a bit. Early in my career, I had a most remarkable young man in my class, whom I nicknamed “Bud”. Poor Bud had TEXAS√SINGS!

a lot of concerns outside the school setting, some of which made his academic progress suffer. Something about music class made Bud feel safe and secure. He eventually found singing to be an escape from his everyday concerns. He continued singing throughout his middle and high school years, and even sang with the Vocal Majority. Music hugged Bud’s soul, and he made a permanent impact on mine. I will forever be grateful for the huggable moments provided by “Bud”.


s Elementary Vice President, I had the privilege of organizing the Elementary Children’s Choir for the 1998 TCDA Convention. As I sat and watched the beautiful faces of the children as they sang under the direction of Dr Kenneth Phillips, my soul was most definitely hugged. I had written numerous letters to these young Winter 2011

musicians, and had typed their names in so many different lists, but now they were no longer mere names on paper — they were living, breathing children making beautiful music together.


ast year, while preparing for our Fifth Grade Christmas Program, one of our “special” students broke forth and blossomed all over the stage. His special concerns were not academic as much as they were emotional and social. “Johnny” was painfully shy, and usually spent his time in music class rocking to the music, but rarely singing along with us. He returned his permission form to participate in the program, and his mother remarked that she was surprised that he really wanted to participate. When he was handed an inflated electric guitar as a prop, Johnny forgot he was in front of people with that guitar. He was a rock star! He bounced all over that stage with his guitar, and on the night of the program, as he slid on his knees center stage at the conclusion of the song, his mother had tears running down her face. He stole the show on that song, and the other students couldn’t have been more supportive of him. In that same program, there was a student from another class who had requested a speaking part. This particular student, “Bobby”, had some emotional issues of his own, although he was in a “regular” classroom. He was a Hurricane Katrina survivor, and was quite emotional. He would suck his thumb occasionally, and had been known to burst into tears at the slightest provocation. He also had somewhat of a speech impediment. When Bobby asked for a speaking part, my heart began to pound, but it was his request, so I decided to go for it. When some of the other fifth grade teachers heard that Bobby had been given a speaking part, they told me I was very brave (translated, stupid). They doubted that he would even show up, much less be able to stand in front of people and say his lines. I pretended ignorance (it was my first year on the campus) and trudged on. The first day of rehearsal on stage (just with his class), when it was his turn to deliver his line, he walked up the microphone and began to cry. To my delight and amazement, one of his fellow students walked up and said the line with him. Bobby looked with wonder and tried again. Different students would come up and offer support, either just by being there or Winter 2011

helping Bobby to know his line. By the night of the program, Bobby confidently walked up to the microphone, delivered his line with perfect clarity and appropriate inflection, and had a smile on his face down to his toes!

As I sat and watched the beautiful faces of the children as they sang under the direction of Dr Kenneth Phillips, my soul was most definitely hugged. I had written numerous letters to these young musicians, and had typed their names in so many different lists, but now they were no longer mere names on paper – they were living, breathing children making beautiful music together.


ow, for this year . . . again in fifth grade, and again one of the special students coming from our Special Ed Unit on campus: “Danny” was another painfully shy little boy who spent much of his time in music class unlacing his shoes, or sitting literally inside his coat, much like a turtle. Early in the year, one of the students came up to me to let me know that Danny was unlacing his tennis shoes. I told him that it was probably a way for Danny to cope with being nervous without screaming and running around the room. A look of understanding came across this boy’s face, and as he went back to his seat, he whispered something to his classmates sitting around Danny. Without saying a word, they helped Danny re-lace his shoes. At first, Danny couldn’t seem to believe that these kids cared enough about him to want to be TEXAS√SINGS!

his friend. As the year went on, they would encourage and invite Danny to sing along. I don’t know how they knew when to not push him, but they worked hard to make him feel included in the group. Eventually, he left his shoes alone, and occasionally he would unzip his jacket just the littlest bit so that we could see some of his face. After awhile, he would come into music class with his jacket unzipped and in its normal place on his body. When we were talking about Rosa Parks one day in class, he raised his hand to contribute to the conversation. Of course I called on him, and he asked a most revealing question: “How did all the black people feel when people were so mean to them just because they were different?” I tried to not let my tears show as I asked him how “he” thought they felt, which led the discussion down a slightly different path. Sometimes there are just more important things to teach than a quarter note.


his past week, Danny and the rest of his class got to the music room before the regular class had arrived, and Danny asked if he could play something on the piano. His little fingers had the most awful form I had ever seen, but his face had the most beautiful glow. As the regular class began to filter in, they crowded around the piano, and I started to panic. Danny kept right on playing, and when he finished the kids all clapped for him! At the end of class, they asked Danny if he would play the piano again for them. I asked him if he would like to, and Danny played with a confidence I had never before seen. None of these experiences happened because of anything magical that I did. I am sure that you have all had similar experiences with your own students. Of course we want to teach our students phrasing, breathing, tall vowels, blending, and all the other nuances that make a choir stand out from the rest. We want them to know about composers, reading rhythms, and sight reading. But please don’t miss the opportunities that we have to teach them life lessons. As music teachers, we have avenues to reach students that other classes no longer have time for, thanks to state testing and other time constraints. Some of the most important and lasting things our children take from music class may not be about music theory at all. Let music hug YOUR soul today! √ 5

President’s Page

Reflect, Renew, Reinvent, Reconnect by TCDA President Amy Alllibon


am fascinated by the concept of a “mulligan,” which is defined as a player in a sport or game getting a second chance to perform a certain move or action. Have you ever wished for a choral mulligan, or do-over? Can you recollect a moment when the final cadence did not tune in an important performance, or an instrumentalist cracked the horn part during a Mullholland piece, or worse, when you damaged a relationship with a chorus member or colleague with ill-tempered words or a poorly timed criticism? It would be convenient if a choral mulligan existed so those moments of imperfection, whether choral or otherwise, could be done over. Rehearsals give us the opportunity to repeat and refine, but what about the big picture of our choral programs and ourselves as musicians? How do we grow into the most we can be as musicians and educators? Since there are no mulligans, we must reflect on weaknesses and mistakes, as well as successes, in order to grow and improve. Honest reflection is one of the most helpful tools we can use in the quest to become better musicians and leaders. When our choirs do not sound or behave the way we want them to, we must honestly reflect and admit that we may be the party at fault. This is a tough reality to face sometimes. We want the blame of a less-than-successful performance to lie on the music, or the crowded calendar, or the substitute unskilled accompanist, or even the barometric pressure. These reflections can be like the reality of stepping on the bathroom scale after the holidays — painful. It can be brutal to hold up the mirror and say, “What did I do or not do for this to be successful?” Without


B President Amy Allibon

Honest reflection is one of the most helpful tools we can use in the quest to become better musicians and leaders. When our choirs do not sound or behave the way we want them to, we must honestly reflect and admit that we may be the party at fault.

this kind of reflection, mistakes tend to repeat themselves and personal frustration festers. While it is difficult to look at personal shortcomings and face them with a positive attitude, it is necessary for growth. TEXAS√SINGS!

y the same token, successes and strengths must be recognized and celebrated. Reflections must include the positive, or dejection and burnout are sure to follow. Celebrate the good each and every day, even if it is hard to find. Stop and recognize what you do well, and celebrate your strengths. Knowing and recognizing your strengths will bolster your confidence as you move forward to remediate areas you want to improve. A few years ago, Birdville ISD made every teacher take the Gallup Strengths Finder test. I typically enter into personality typing with great skepticism, but what I witnessed as a result of that testing made a big impact on our faculty’s working relationship with one another. As each staff member discovered their top five strengths, those strengths were printed and posted on classroom doors. We were encouraged to use our strengths, and those of others, in strategic ways rather than dwelling on the weaknesses. This made our faculty stronger, and relationships strengthened as people were tapped in their areas of strength. Renewal and reinvention go hand in hand with reflection for success. One of the pitfalls choral musicians fall into is repeating music under the guise of tradition. Every choral program has these traditions, and they are treasured keepsakes in our chorister’s hearts. How many choirs sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” as a blessing for the end of the week? Surely traditions sprinkled throughout our programs are valuable threads of connectivity through the generations, but be careful of falling into unnecessary repetitions that spawn from a status quo way of thinking. Winter 2011

Resist the urge to plug this year’s choir into last year’s mold or music. They may not fit.


am fortunate to have close choral director friends, and even a brother, who have shared this career path. In my first few years of teaching, I idealized other directors who were successful, and I assumed they did not have any problems at their schools. I would attend TMEA, hear an invited choir, and presume that the path they had taken was strewn with fragrant roses and stardust. As I built relationships with other directors, I realized we are all in the same boat that is sometimes sailing on smooth water, and at other times, rough seas. These connections with

other directors have kept me sane over the years. Without these colleagues to process through the many facets of this work, I believe I would have changed professions. Reconnecting when one feels isolated and alone in this profession is critical. Having people in our lives who share this journey helps us process the reflections and renewals. The relationships that TCDA fosters are important to every director’s growth and development, no matter what the age or experience level of that director. While social media can be a tremendous asset in communicating with colleagues and friends, Facebook will never provide the one-on-one networking and partnering that attending a TCDA Convention provides.


s you proceed with perhaps the busiest season of the year, I invite you to reflect on the program you lead. What would you change? Are you willing to take the steps necessary to actually change? If you do not know how to change, are you willing to find someone to help you? Be willing to renew and reinvent yourself and your program. Reconnect with colleagues to gain insight into their successes. Someone wise once said, “If you do what you’ve always done, then you get what you already had.” Move forward knowing that filling in the blanks on last year’s template may not work, and that change is necessary to keep up in this fast paced world. Be open to the possibility that change can breathe life into your program and give a renewed spirit. √


Duane Doyle Gohlke 1945-2011 by Kevin Beall


uane Doyle Gohlke, 65, of Sherman passed away Monday, Jan. 3, 2011. Duane was born Nov. 21, 1945, in Denison to Arnold H and Carrie Mae Kusch Gohlke. After finishing high school, he earned a BA degree from Austin College in 1966 and completed a Master’s at The University of North Texas in 1973. He married a fellow Austin College graduate, Bobbie Booher, on July 30, 1967. Duane is survived by his wife Bobbie; a son, Joshua Gohlke and wife Candace of Woodstock GA; a daughter, Jennie Bailey and husband Matthew of Searcy AR; and seven grandchildren. In a time of teachers moving freely from school district to school Duane Gohlke district or school to school, Duane stayed his entire career in one school grandparent, about being a part of “Mr district. His uniqueness was something Gohlke’s” choir. that was shared over generations of eing a part of Duane’s choir was all students; from his wearing of mutton about being part of the experience. chop sideburns way past their prime, Whether it was performing at a to his quirky sayings and the unwashed local nursing home, in New York, in coffee cup – these and so much more Campeche, Mexico, or the local spring were all a part of what made him concert, every opportunity to sing was special. A child would grow up to be enjoyed to the fullest. It was to hearing the stories, maybe told by a


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be the fulfillment of the music, not just a performance.


s the news of “Mr Gohlke’s” passing spread, the comments on all of the social network sites started to light up with comments. A common theme kept resounding through the thoughts that were expressed: Mr Gohlke was a unique individual who made every student feel special to be a part of the group. He was known to be much more than a teacher. He was a camp counselor, foster parent, church organist, and, with his wife Bobbie Gohlke (he always referred to her with both names), never closed the door of their home to a person in need. They lived in the same home for part of four decades. You always knew where they were and what their lives stood for. It was to make everyone else’s lives a little better each day. Some might say that the 65 years that he lived was too short by today’s medical standards. To Mr Gohlke, it was what you added to someone’s life that truly defined the quality of the day that you lived. √


Officer Comments Past President Bob Horton


now thyself. This age old quote has often served me well. I believe that its message is simple. To live a successful life, you have to really spend some time and get to know yourself. As touchy-feely as “getting to know yourself ” sounds, this exercise can be very healthy. After serving for six years on your TCDA Board, I have been fortunate to get to know leaders within our state, and around the country. I offer my thoughts on leadership, not as a model for others to follow, but so that you may reflect on your thoughts as you strive to know thyself. I believe that leadership is pervasive to all aspects of life. We are followers and leaders every day. Realism as a basis for ontology is, for me, a natural and functional part of life. Many would argue, like Bacon and Comte (Durant, 2006), that the world is as we see it. Further, realist philosophy holds that the world exists apart from our perceptions. According to realism, if we base our perceptions of the world solely on observation, our observations of life and reality are not the only valid data sources and our experiences and the lessons we learn from them are not singular bases for understanding. As obvious as this may seem, using observation alone for reality-making is a delimiting point of view. When this has been the case, reality must be questioned, because I was convinced of a reality, only to have that vision challenged. Thus, idealism must be considered. Idealism holds a preconceived notion of how things ought to be, that we construct our own reality within our minds, and that each individual’s construct of reality is, in fact, reality (Miller, 2010). Because my upbringing came from a strong moral point of view, as well as family values that were taught, I had a firmly


entrenched view of reality. I was very idealistic. This was certainly developed through my family. Now I know that they were operating under what Kant called the “Categorical Imperative” (Rachels, 2009, p 127). As I matured I realized that humans often fail at upholding the near-perfection standard of the “Categorical Imperative.” The reality shift I experienced forced me to consider other points of view on human behavior, in order to gain a broader understanding. This brings up two other aspects of reality: human fallibility and perception. Early in life, I became aware of the fallible nature of humans. My parents were divorced when I was seven years old, and each parent seemed to take great effort to extol their unique view of the truth. As I entered into leadership roles with others, my idealistic ontological position was challenged by observation of alternative behaviors I observed in others that did not match my beliefs. I also developed a growing cognizance of multiple perspectives in the world. As valuable as it has been to recognize that multiple worldviews exist, leadership roles have required me to make decisions based on beliefs. Similarly, I have had to evaluate the actions of others, which has challenged me to examine my epistemological foundations. Individually held positions on what is true may be viewed through the lens of what we believe to be the truth. When we decide what truth is, we necessarily have chosen alternatives that we believe are not true, as well. The search for truth has been a common theme of mankind’s existence. A given premise is that each individual will have developed their own set of premises, which comprise their reality. Although these premises may be similar to those held by others, human conflict is often the result of differing viewpoints about truth. If one aspect of leadership is vision setting, then one’s view of the truth must be well conceived and well articulated. When I began to have leadership roles, I did not know how to frame the beliefs of others within systems of values. Because I am an empathetic person, and because I place a high value on communication, as I have matured, I have sought to underTEXAS√SINGS!

stand others’ viewpoints. What is right and how do we know? Beliefs are at their elemental form, value judgments. When I am convinced of being right, I am often challenged to produce evidence. Axiology is, thus, built on the foundations of ontology (what is real) and epistemology (what is true). Very simply stated, axiology is deciding what is bad versus what is good, and how good it is (Schroeder, 2008). However, our basis for decisions about what is bad and good must be based on sound reasoning. Decisionmaking is a daily part of leadership. For most decisions values must be examined to determine the perceived best course of action. Further, in leadership positions, complicated decisions or situations frequently merit the considerations of decision outcomes. In this way pragmatism can be a valuable theoretical lens through which situations may be examined. Pragmatists consider the outcome of decisions a priori (Hookway, 2010). After considering options, the practical consequences of a decision are weighed, prior to the actual decision. Thus, decision-making can be viewed an outcome-based act. My Philosophy of Leadership

My view of leadership is that it is a pervasive part of our lives. Leadership, as John Maxwell said, is influence. As we examine our own thoughts, motives, and actions, we make leadership decisions for ourselves, based on our principles. Stephen Covey, in his book, First Things First, said, “We may not be the leader, but we’re a leader.”(p 239, emphasis in original). Covey’s point is that leadership is conscious choice. At the risk of appearing contradictory, it might be more apt to say leadership opportunities are a pervasive part of our lives. How we choose to respond to leadership opportunities determines much of how we grow in our leadership capacities. I would argue that one of the growth areas of decision-making and leadership is self-leadership or governance. Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, calls this “Personal Mastery” (2006, p 7). Senge eloquently stated one of my deeply held personal beliefs, “People with a high level of personal mastery are able to continually realize Winter 2011

Officer Comments the results that matter most deeply to them.”(p 7) He continued, “Personal mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively”(Senge, 2009, p 7). All choices we make are ours, and though they may affect others, they are certainly ours. Therefore, another growth area of leadership is the way we interact with others. All leadership action comes from a position of authority, or power. Two of the types described by Fowler (2009), are essential to my philosophy of leadership: “Competent Authority” (p 30) and “Persuasion” (p 31). ”Competent Authority”, as described by Fowler (2009), is “based on expertise” (p 30). I believe this type of authority is essential for leadership. People respect leaders who are competent in their given field, and who demonstrate competent leadership. “Persuasion” can be a leadership tool, defined by Fowler (2009) as “the overt attempt to affect the behavior of others by convincing them that the desired behavior is good” (p 30). Fowler articulates how facts may be used in persuasion as well as socialization through culture (2009, p 30). I believe that this is another key component to leadership. Leaders are responsible for setting a vision, and establishing a culture. Although every situation has peaks and valleys, ebbs and flows, human interaction and leadership is a dynamic and living act. Relationships are constantly developing, issues constantly arising, and humans have infinite capacity for change. With change comes the opportunity to examine core beliefs and make decisions in light of those core beliefs. Change that comes from leadership decisions can be of situations or policies, but I believe it is ultimately change in people. Greenleaf (1970), called this servant leadership. I believe in servant leadership. Originally conceived by Robert Greenleaf, this concept resonated with me when I encountered this statement, “The servant-leader is servant first . . . . It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to Winter 2011

lead” (Greenleaf, 1970). It has been my experience that leaders who want a leadership position only do not always have influence. A key component of the philosophy of servant leadership is that by serving others, growth happens for the leader and followers. Leadership has purpose beyond mere function. Based on my life as a husband, father, teacher, and professional leader, inspiring growth in others has always been my priority. I believe that a leader’s power to influence can be founded upon competence and persuasion. Competence allows followers to trust their leader. Competence involves skill at articulating vision. Competence also involves ability, and directly relates to the faith followers place in their leader. Persuasion, to me, is the ability leaders develop to encourage their followers to participate in a shared vision. Persuasion also involves being able to collaborate with others to bring a shared vision into existence. For me, Kent Keith expressed much of my view of how ideal leadership is practiced in his poem titled “Anyway”. Written in 1968, it was cited by Mother Teresa, and mistakenly attributed to her. The essence of this poem is that leadership implies willful choice values and empathy matter to a leader, and acting with integrity to your core beliefs is of paramount importance.

Anyway People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway. TEXAS√SINGS!

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway. As much of my own philosophy of leadership is based on the consideration of human interactions, I collected the following quotes: “A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (17491832) “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and selfrestraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) “Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future.” – Edwin H Friedman (1932-1996) “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C Maxwell (1947-) “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision”. – John C Maxwell (1947-) “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) “Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.” – Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) √ 9

Officer Comments President Elect Jeff Rice

It’s Not All About Me!


hat is a phrase I have been saying to myself recently. As I work each day with the most wonderful high school students in the world, I have to stop myself frequently and be reminded of who the center of my attention in the classroom is each day. In the teacher appraisal process, much weight is placed on the learner being the central focus of instruction. Our appraisers are more interested in how our students are responding than what we as teachers are doing. We can prepare and execute our most creative lesson plan, but if our students do not respond, we have not done our job. Recently, my PDAS appraiser and I had a healthy discussion on my premise that choral music instruction is intrinsically learner-centered because the learner/performer must be physically and mentally involved for good singing to occur. In my opinion, there are few activities that are more learner-centered than skilled, refined choral singing. The singer/student is creating music through a complex series of mental, physical, and spiritual processes that result in accurate, healthy, expressive singing. This requires continual evaluation as the singer moves from note to note and word to word while constantly making fine tuning adjustments to what he is hearing around him. In my appraiser’s opinion, as long as the teacher is directing the instruction, it is not the highest level of learner-centered education. I have come to realize that we are both right and that there must be a balance between the two. It is true that some of what we do in the choral classroom is teacher-directed with an expected student response. Most of the time we select choral literature and sight reading curriculum, and students are expected to respond with correct pitches, rhythms, phrasing, dynamics,


tone quality, etc. As choral conductors we are trained with a predetermined sound of what we want to hear from our students. To achieve that sound our instruction usually consists of modeling or describing the desired sounds and behaviors, then expecting students to respond with the sound that was pre-set in our mind. If we stop there, we are leaving the learner out of the process to a certain degree. Although we should not abdicate the teacher’s role in the choral classroom, it is not a bad thing to allow our students to make some decisions that determine the outcome of our instruction. How can you begin to make this a part of your daily instruction process? Here are some ways you can make your choral classroom more learnercentered: Allow the class to vote on a musical selection for a concert. (Of course, you can make sure all the choices are acceptable and appropriate for the choir.) Better yet, perform a student composition! Allow student leaders to select excerpts of a piece for rehearsal. This can also be set up ahead of time to ensure success for all. Choose a student to give the starting pitch for sight reading exercises. Discover which student may have perfect pitch! Allow students to choose which piece needs the most attention on a given day. This can be a great way to extend instruction when you feel you have met your objectives for the day, but still have 10 minutes left in class. Assign small ensemble groups for rehearsal. Allow one student to be the conductor of the ensemble as they perform musical excerpts for the class. Ask each group to critique the other groups.

• • •

One tool I use to create learnercentered lesson plans is the “Five E” method prescribed by my campus principal. The following is a typical lesson plan template for my classes. As you will see, it is a very broad form allowing freedom to insert titles of particular vocal exercises, sight reading material, and choral literature we are working on at that time. TEXAS√SINGS!

Engage: 1. Appropriate music selection playing as students enter the room. 2. Group sight reading assignment instructions on board. 3. Vocal exercises/warm up. Explore: 1. Large/small group participation in sight reading curriculum material. 2. Large/small group participation in choral rehearsal techniques using performance curriculum materials. 3. Large/small group exploring vocal skills including breathing, tone quality, range, and vowel shape/ placement. 4. Sight reading unison lines using Kodály hand signs. 5. Vocal skills — posture, breathing, tone quality. Breathing exercise — counting in/out, percussive consonant drills. Explain: 1. Immediate feedback from the teacher based on student performance of sight reading curriculum material. 2. Teacher models correct pitch, interval performance, and rhythmic patterns. 3. Immediate feedback from teacher based on student performance of choral rehearsal techniques. 4. Teacher explains and demonstrates appropriate and necessary choral techniques including dynamic contrast, phrasing, intonation, diction, expression, textual significance, vowel unity, vocal color matching, and historical/composer information (composer/musical style). 5. Immediate feedback from the teacher based on student performance of vocal technique. 6. Teacher explains and demonstrates appropriate vocal techniques including posture, diaphragmatic breathing, tonal resonance, tone quality, vowel placement, and vocal anatomy. Elaborate: 1. Students chant, then audiate, then sing sections of sight reading material to apply knowledge, refine skills, and deepen understanding of reading musical notation. 2. Students repeat sections of choral performance material to apply Winter 2011

Officer Comments knowledge and refine musical performance skills. 3. Students work to refine textual concepts of pronunciation, word/ syllable stress, and interpretation. Evaluate: 1. Students perform in small groups while other students evaluate. 2. Teacher develops questions to encourage self and group understanding of musical concepts. 3. Students listen to recordings of rehearsal/performance and develop oral and/or written evaluations.

College/ Community Pam Elrod

Giving an “A”


he practice of “giving the A” allows the teacher to line up with her students in their efforts to produce the outcome, rather than lining up with the standards against these students . . . Even in a symphony orchestra, where the conductor and the hundred players have something collective at stake – namely a great performance – standards can wreak havoc. Not every conductor is capable of moving beyond his own agenda and his own prejudices to see how he supports or undermines the players’ performance. Just before the oboist puts her reed to her lips for her big solo, she looks up at the conductor, and along with information about tempo, phrasing, shape, rhythm, color, and the character of the music, comes a message that includes a grade – and that, as much as anything else, will determine how she plays. “Giving an A.” The Art of Possibility. Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander For a number of years, the above quote has appeared at the beginning of

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I encourage each one of you to recall the phrase, it’s not all about me, several times every day. While at school turn your focus to your students and colleagues. Find ways to become more learner-centered. When you are not on the job, focus on your family and friends. This will allow you to enjoy life more than if you focus on yourself all the time. Now that the busy holiday season is behind us, we can sit back and coast to the end of the year, right? Wrong! TMEA, UIL contests, spring trips, concerts, banquets, TAKS testing, etc, are all looming ahead of us. I wish all of you

the best for wonderful performances and meaningful moments with your students throughout the coming semester.

the syllabi for my introductory undergraduate and graduate conducting courses. The book was recommended to me by a colleague some years ago, and I now include it as recommended reading for my conducting and choral techniques courses. And although there were many, many valuable and insightful messages shared in the book, this quote reached out and grabbed me when I came across it. It falls in line not only with my philosophy as a teacher, but also as a conductor. When I began my doctoral studies at the University of Illinois, one of the first comments I heard about my conducting had to do with how hard I was working at the podium. Knees bouncing, arms all over the place, body moving this way and that – these were all habits I had developed in years of rehearsing with young, inexperienced teenagers. In simple terms, I was trying to “do it for them”. But the truth was, my choirs’successes in performance were likely due more to what I had told them in rehearsals, rather than what I was showing them. So I began the difficult and lengthy process of removing all of those unconscious movements and using only the movements that were necessary to communicate clearly the concepts I wished to convey. So how does this fit in with “giving the A” in rehearsals and performances? Zander uses the analogy as an illustration of how quickly and powerfully our demeanor (and I’ll take the example further – our language) can affect the performances of our students, whether in the rehearsal room or in the concert hall.

This is certainly a topic worthy of discussion and thought as we examine our teaching techniques and the culture we create in our classes. However, the same analogy can be carried even further into the realm of how we approach the physical aspect of our craft – the conducting gesture. If, as conductors, we are micromanaging every aspect of the phrase, we’re removing accountability from the singers. We’re telling them that we don’t trust them to be able to respond to the music appropriately on their own. We’re effectively saying that we anticipate their errors and are going to do everything possible to short-circuit the road to error. Beyond that, we’re not giving ourselves an “A” as communicators. It’s as if we’re that person in a conversation who over-explains everything when a simple, direct sentence would suffice. Our goal as conductors should be to provide clear, meaningful gestures that serve as a canvas upon which musical events are “painted”. Gesture guides the singers’ breath management. A disturbance in the gesture results in a disruption of the breath support and, ultimately, the vocal tone. And what are some of these disruptive movements? Lunging, bouncing, bobbing, and weaving Conducting the rhythm Illogical changes in the speed of the hand Hitches in the beat pattern Stopping the hand when it’s not necessary “Fishtails” in the beat pattern Too much rebound Unnecessary resistance in the pattern


Please include TCDA Convention in your summer 2011 plans! Mark your calendar for July 27-30, 2011. We will have a male Director’s Chorus conducted by Dr Jonathan Reed. The Director’s Chorus will premiere a TCDA Commissioned Work for high school men’s choir by Craig Hella Johnson. Please plan to participate. Registration will begin after the TMEA Convention. √

• • • • • • • •


Officer Comments I challenge you to videotape yourself in rehearsals and performances. How much of what you’re doing at the podium is unintentional, unconscious, or subconscious? Even more crucial, how much of what you’re doing is telling the singers something that runs counter to your interpretive ideas? Ideally, shouldn’t we be aware of every movement we make? As conductors, aren’t our bodies our “voices”? If you’re pleased with what you see, congratulations. But I’ll bet you’re in the minority. For most of us (and of course I include myself in this), we can always improve our “language”. Here are some steps toward that goal: Posture check

High School Sharon Paul


s each of us prepares for the upcoming UIL season, a conversation I had with a colleague returns to my mind. In discussing the importance of selecting literature, marketing the literature to the choir, and motivating the learning of the literature, finding the right selection for a particular choir is always a challenge. Perhaps you have experienced “the UIL or concert selection you will never teach or perform again with a choir”. After talking to quite a few fellow directors, I think this issue has probably occurred at least once in everyone’s career. Time, wisdom, and experience usually guide our judgment in subsequent years. However, in addition to concert, UIL, and PML requirements, other factors are key to a successful and positive experience for our students. It is very enjoyable to hear voices mature and grow. As we proceed in the spring, and as the choir performs and progresses, listen to the voices several times, individually, to see if adjustments should be made to balance the sections. Additionally, voices that are soft or loud,


• Are there unnecessary body move-

Stand tall Feet a comfortable distance apart Open, wide torso Relaxed shoulders Elbows away from body Conducting plane that’s not too high or low Bring them to you – don’t reach for them Get back to basics – does your preparatory gesture clearly indicate tempo, articulation, and dynamic level? Ask yourself this question: Is the subdivision always apparent in my gesture (without subdividing, of course)?

We are all nurturers at heart. We want to help our singers reach their potential. But in doing so, we sometimes take over for them with conducting gestures that are much busier and much more intrusive than is necessary. We throw so much information at them at once that the result becomes essentially “white noise”. The clarity of the message is lost in the abundance of bodily “verbiage”. Ultimately, we’re not giving them an “A” as musicians, and we’re not giving ourselves an “A” as conductors. And we all deserve “A’s”. √

or that have bright, or dark tones, may have to be placed differently in a section. Again, one of the most important ingredients for a wonderful performance is selecting music that fits the choir. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Have you ever chosen repertoire that you liked but didn’t work well? A few items for consideration in a concert or UIL performance besides UIL Grade would be style, tempo, voicing, range, key, and overall programming. Look at the specific ranges of the voices within each section of the choir. Selecting music that shows the strength of the choir as a whole creates a dynamic performance. If all sections are created equal (aah, a choir director’s dream), is there an age factor to consider or are the students experienced singers? Think about the tone of the choir and the sonority or depth of tone in performing a selection according to the composer’s intent. Also, remember to take into account the impact of eligibility upon the choir. It can be a factor in selecting repertoire with divisi. One final thought is to choose a program that is a sequential step in the choir’s next level of learning for the year. Now that the choir is set, what resources are there to help in the selection of literature? Experienced colleagues are a wonderful resource, as well as recordings, region clinicians, UIL contests, concerts, and online performances. Maybe an experienced colleague could come to a concert or listen to the choir in rehearsal and make suggestions on repertoire that might demonstrate the choir’s strengths.

Many directors think of programs in terms of having a confident opening selection for the students as they begin, an a cappella selection, and a solid closer. In selecting literature, a winning combination is to find a selection that fits the choir, that the choir will enjoy, and that we will enjoy teaching. When marketing the literature to our choir, a positive way of introducing the music is to find a good recording that presents the music in its entirety. Once students have an overall view of the final product, I think it is much easier for them to understand how the process will help them reach their final destination. An online performance is another option providing the audio is of good quality. Our attitude and presentation of the music is contagious. If we are sold on the literature, the students will often reflect our enthusiasm. Consider the difficulty, the important components that will need addressing, and the method of teaching that will be most beneficial for your students. Chord sheets, rhythm sheets, solfa, or language may be factors that need focus. Sequencing the presentation of these items can make the learning process very enjoyable for the teacher and make the choir rehearsal a success. Rehearsals that are fresh, creative, and engaging probably sustain the most positive learning environment. Yes, there are times we will have to “scrub” and refine the music, but, if that is just one of the types of rehearsals woven into the musical fabric of learning, the students will continue to focus and stay commit-

• • •


ments accompanying the gesture?

Winter 2011

Officer Comments ted to the process. Sectionals, clinicians, and recording the rehearsal every week can also prove useful tools in preparation for a concert or competition. Best wishes to each of you as you venture into your preparations for UIL.

If you are a new teacher, please consider visiting with experienced colleagues. We all share a love for our students, music, and teaching. I know they would enjoy talking with you. If you are a veteran teacher, consider checking in on the

newer directors to see if they have any questions, especially regarding rules and requirements. More important, support each other and enjoy the opportunity to make those connections and friendships that will last a lifetime. √

Middle School/ Junior High

nized and unprofessional. Although most of this information is familiar, it may be helpful to review a few “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to written communication.

informs the standard “who, what, where, when, and how” of the event.

Dianna L Jarvis

Timing is everything: Timely communication will enhance your relationship with those tied to your choral program. Provide information about rehearsals, concerts, and other events well in advance. The best practice is to include a calendar for the school year in your handbook. You might also consider sending a second copy of this calendar in early January as a way to remind others to include choir dates in their new calendar. Additionally, it is important to provide your community with an email or letter reminding them of upcoming events approximately seven to ten days before it is scheduled to take place. Make it a priority to also send these reminders to your administration and colleagues when appropriate. Include the names of students participating if the activity results in students missing all or part of the school day. Your students’ absences will likely affect your colleagues’ lesson plans for that week. Timely notifications will give other teachers the opportunity to make adjustments to their plans as needed. Don’t forget to send this information to the attendance clerk as well.


Communication 101

photographer for a local newspaper was assigned to take pictures of a California forest fire. The chief news director advised him that a small plane would be waiting at the airport so he could cover the story. The photographer arrived at the airstrip minutes later, and, as promised, a small Cessna was waiting on the runway with the engines running. He jumped in the plane with his equipment and shouted, “Let’s go!” The man sitting in the pilot’s seat steered the plane toward the runway and within just a few minutes, they were in the air. Almost immediately, they could see the black smoke from the massive fire off in the distance. “Fly over the north side of the fire,” said the photographer, “and make several lowlevel passes over the fire.” “Why?” asked the nervous pilot. Annoyed by the question, the photographer yelled, “Because I’m going to take footage of the fire, you idiot! What else do photographers do?” The pilot nervously looked and the photographer and replied, “Does this mean you’re not my flight instructor?” This story is a great example of communication gone awry. So much of what we do as educators centers around how and what we communicate to parents, students, administrators, and colleagues. Clear, timely, and thoughtfully crafted communication can enhance the professional respect that we all seek. On the other hand, a continued lack of communication or communication that is vague can make one appear disorgaWinter 2011

Get to the point: Many of us tend to “skim” written communication, especially when our schedules become increasingly hectic. Because of this habit, be sure that informational notices are not wordy and filled with non-essential information. After the initial two or three sentences of “greeting”, I often include the most important information in a “bullet” format. This allows the reader to quickly identify the pertinent information being conveyed, even if they do not thoroughly read the entire correspondence. Tastefully highlight, bold, or underline the information that TEXAS√SINGS!

Don’t touch that button!: Before you send/print a notice or email, have someone edit your letter for spelling, grammatical errors, clarity, and tone. Email should only be sent to inform or answer specific, non-emotional inquiries. If there is a chance that the person you are contacting is angry, unhappy, or upset do not send an email. Instead, handle potentially emotional situations over the phone or, when possible, in person. It is far too easy for a reader to insert an inaccurate tone or misunderstand your intention when vocal inflection, body language, and/or immediate feedback are not readily present. Never send an email when you are emotionally charged. Always give yourself plenty of time to respond to someone in a non-emotional, professional manner even if this delays correspondence. Last, never put anything in writing that you would not be comfortable having an administrator, school board member, or the local news anchor read. Privacy, please: Be sure to protect the email addresses of your students and their families when sending out mass emails from your distribution list. When sending bulk email, many people place all of the email addresses in the “To:” field. By doing this, they are unwittingly publicizing the email addresses of everyone associated with their program. This can result in others using the distribution list to solicit private business or send unwanted email. One way to avoid this problem is to place all addresses in the “BCC:” field. You can also use Microsoft Outlook and Word to create a mail merge, enabling you to create one message for each recipient. Using either of these steps will help protect the privacy of those who have entrusted you with their email addresses. When more is better: In this elec13

Officer Comments tronic age, most written communication is done through the Internet. This should not, however, be your only means of communicating with your community. Look for multiple ways to provide information regarding upcoming events or deadlines. In addition to group email, provide hard copies of electronic communication to your students who may not have Internet access or whose parents seldom check for email. Continue posting a weekly, monthly, or semester calendar in your classroom or on your board. Keep a list of announcements that need to be made on your piano or music stand where you will be sure to see it throughout the day.

Elementary Phyllis King

Find Your Music Mojo


an we talk? Put a hold on making music for a moment and focus on some trends in formal education. Do you happen to have a favorite guru? Harry Wong, Jim Fay, Flip Flippin? Maybe it would be Phil Schlechty or Richard DuFour? Sir Ken Robinson, Ian Jukes, Benjamin Zander, or Daniel Pink? Do you remember Madeline Hunter? And never forget Benjamin Bloom and Erik Erikson! Really, I am not making up these names! What do you think of when you hear these buzz words — Working on the Work, Engaged Learner, Emotional Intelligence, Effective Schools, Planning the Work/Working the Plan, Peak Learning Theory, Professional Learning Communities, Meeting the Needs of the 21st Century Learner, Digital Natives, Love and Logic, Boy’s Town, Capturing Kid’s Hearts, Essential Elements, 4-MAT, National Standards, TEKS, CSCOPE. While working for the public school system in Texas, a person will come in contact with many different educational 14

Consider investing in a message or display board that can be hung in a high traffic area of your school. This will allow students, parents, and colleagues to view your program’s calendar. This is also a great way to promote your program and recruit new members. Display pictures and notices about upcoming events that make your organization unique. Updating the display case or message board is a project for your student officers, club historian, student aide, or college intern. You should also make use of your school’s web page or your teacher web page to post important, time-sensitive information. If you regularly incorporate several

methods of communication, you are likely to successfully contact more people. This practice will also limit students’ ability to use the “I didn’t know about it” line of argument following a missed event or deadline. Like the photographer in the opening story, we should all look for ways to improve our communication skills in order to prevent unnecessary misunderstandings with those we encounter through the work environment. Keeping written communication timely, clear, precise, and non-confrontational will enhance your professional reputation and the reputation of your music program. √

theories. A school district will decide on a direction and then focus on training the campus employees to adopt the idea for the whole district. Once you have learned these ideas, you cannot then unlearn them. It becomes part of your frame of reference and you will carry this knowledge with you as you continue to teach, reflecting on the correlations and applications of that particular educational theory to your subject matter. When we actually get right down to it, on a daily basis, no matter how many learning theories you have studied and applied, no matter how much you have planned ahead, the quality of the time that you spend in the classroom with the students is where the real learning takes place. As elementary music specialists, we often have such a short amount of direct contact class time that every minute counts. As a choir director, the weekly school or church choir rehearsal is our only opportunity. What does that contact time actually look like? Is there a confident well-prepared facilitator of learning leading the group? Or is the leader one who needs to find some music “mojo”? The Urban Dictionary describes Finding Your Mojo as follows: to be able to find something you like doing, and to do it with passion, zeal, energy, and enthusiasm. This certainly implies that your mojo is found from inside, from positive motivation within, no matter how many learning theories are influencing you.

To help provide a little new year mojo motivation, here is an abbreviated list of suggestions for maintaining your mojo with some interpretation liberties pertaining to music.* 1. Practice positive self-talk. Think about wonderful ways to say things to your students and about the music you are working on together. 2. Set yourself up to have frequent, small wins. Set a short-term goal with a class or choir. Recognize achievement, especially the small steps. 3. Take a moment to look back at your successes. This is particularly important when you or your group might be feeling low. Remember that goal setting is the first step to achieving any goal! 4. Use your walk. Stride purposefully; look and feel energized. Students will model your behavior. 5. Be curious. Learn something new — a new song, a new choral score, a new singing game. Ask students leading questions rather than just tell them all the right answers. 6. Be grateful for what you have instead of focusing on what you lack. Always demonstrate your musical best. Children know when you are trying to fake it. 7. Stay in your own life. Stop comparing yourself to others. Be true to yourself. You do not need to copy someone else to be successful. You can be you. Balance, in life and in class, being relaxed with staying on task. 8. Expect success. Plan well. Perse-


Winter 2011

Officer Comments vere. Practice. Re-evaluate. Then look forward with a positive attitude. Expect success. 9. Watch someone. Be willing to watch other teachers as they interact with students and colleagues. Model (not copy) their self-confident behavior. Be willing to reflect on how others work and think. 10. Help someone. When you have some music mojo to share, spread it around! Be willing to share ideas and music activities with colleagues. It builds the mojo of your musical community

Church Greg Shapley

Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning, Not Burned Out


s I write this article, my church has just completed final presentations of our annual Christmas celebration, Festival of Carols. All the months of planning, preparation, and rehearsals are complete, the music has been played and sung, the crowds have come and gone, and now we move on to what’s next. Of course, as you read this article, the calendar will be moving well into 2011 throwing us all headlong toward yet another Lenten and Easter season. I say it to myself every year, “How can time seem to be moving faster and faster?” I’m sure many of us feel the same way. In fact I will wager that Bach looked up frequently from his writing bench to say, “How can Sunday be coming again . . . so soon?” Time. We all feel its relentless march. We all have twenty-four hours of it each day, and yet its pressures can push and pull us to feel rushed, hurried, scattered, frazzled, and fried. And certainly, too much time spent working can lead us to career burnout . . . or does it? Winter 2011

together. In building teachers/leaders with self-confidence we will also be building the student self-esteem. Teacher mojo and student mojo . . . now that would be magic! Here in 2011, I wish you a Happy New Year of classroom and choir musical magic. Keep your mojo moving and I’ll see you soon at TMEA! √

when you collaborate. I firmly believe all of those educational gurus listed above are ones with a sense of their own personal mojo. Even though each of those educators has a vastly different personality, they all demonstrate a sense of comfortable confidence often mixed with open selfreflection. Having seen many of their presentations in person, I can say with confidence that each one has most certainly found his or her mojo. It may be a challenge to find that special mojo for ourselves, but I know we can do it,

*I found the basis of this list on the Internet from a blog by Marelissa called “24 Surefire Ways to Get Your Mojo Working.” You might want to Google for the complete article at a later time.

I know many people who work seventy hours a week and never feel any symptoms of burnout, and I know people who work part-time say they’ve burned out, so is the amount of time spent working the culprit, or could it be something else altogether? Burnout is a major factor in our profession, whether serving in the local church or teaching in the classroom. Too many talented people have left the choral profession altogether because burnout has robbed them of their passion for making music, and they simply feel like they have nothing else to offer. Their tanks are empty, and their souls need refreshing. In speaking with colleagues around the state, there is a common thread I hear quite often. Times are difficult. Due to the state of our economy, many congregations face unprecedented shortfalls in giving and resources are stretched far too thin. Our volunteers have more and more involvements that take them away from our music programs, and congregations become divided over musical styles, with staff members caught on both sides of polarizing arguments. It is no wonder our leaders are experiencing burnout, and the factors point toward more than just too many hours spent in the office. Family Systems Theory is a theory of human behavior developed by Murray Bowen (1913-1990) that views the family as an emotional unit. Systems-thinking describes how the emotional unit of a nuclear family functions as an integrated system, and like a flock of birds moving together, all in the family begin, act, and react within the emotional field. The

family of origin is our original family where we learn our roles, but those roles carry into the church, the school, or anyplace where human beings interact. According to Bowen, we are always operating within a family systems model with other human beings in a complex emotional field. Self-differentiation protects the leader from the emotional roller coaster of the system. A poorly differentiated person cannot separate himself or herself from the emotional will of the system. The self-differentiated person recognizes a dependence on others, but remains calm and non-anxious in the face of emotional conflict. A self-differentiated person cares and remains connected, but knows how to operate in proportion to the pull of the emotional system and the need to remain independent. By nature, working with people requires tremendous amounts of emotional energy. We must give and give some more in order to get the desired results. Coaches, teachers, clergy, business leaders, and many others must draw upon their stores of emotional energy to motivate groups of people toward the desired results. We who are passionate about music have much to offer, so giving of ourselves to the music isn’t the problem. Sure, we may become tired and need to recharge, but rarely do we find ourselves burning out because we’ve had too many successful rehearsals with lots of willing musicians working on great music. Hard work doesn’t equate to burnout. Burnout begins when we seek to satisfy our personal emotional needs affirmation and worth within the context



Officer Comments of the job. As long as things are going well, we feel wonderful, but as soon as situations become challenging and difficult, our emotional needs begin to go unmet, and the signs of burnout begin to set in over a period of time. This is a dangerous situation, and we all need to take stock from time to time and ask the question, “Is what I’m feeling about the job and its demands, or is this about me and my needs?” Self-differentiation helps keep the balance. So what’s the antidote? Certainly time away and is an important consider-

ation, but other factors must also be considered: Healthy relationships beyond the job – seek out friendships away from the workplace that center around other shared interests. Never go it alone – have at least one colleague you can call anytime to share struggles and seek input and counsel. Develop activities and interests beyond the job – this sounds easy, but many of us find it all too easy to work all of the time since we are doing what we love. However, we risk the emotional

TCDA announces the inaugural Church Division Festival Chorus, Dr Donald Neuen, Director of Choral Activities at UCLA, conductor. The Festival Chorus will be comprised of adult church choir singers from all around the state. Church music directors are asked to invite singers from their choirs with advanced musical skills and vocal technique to participate in this historic event. Quartets or a balanced number of singers from each choir are preferred. Singers will receive music packets after June 1 along with a practice CD for their voice part. Cost per singer is $75. Singers will need to provide all transportation, meals, and hotel stay in San Antonio if planning to stay after the worship service. The service and Festival Chorus performance take place Thursday evening, July 28, in the Sanctuary at First Baptist Church at 7:00 pm. Family members may participate in the TCDA Convention activities by purchasing guest badges that allow access to the exhibits and workshops held at the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio. TCDA cannot provide child care for family members of participants.



danger of becoming the job rather than performing the job. Do something physical – find some time each day, even if it’s 10 or 15 minutes to engage in some physical activity that also allows the mind and body to take a break from the job. Refresh the spirit – take the necessary time for a spiritual retreat that involves becoming completely unplugged for at least two or three days, preferably a couple of times a year. Leave all electronics at home, read for pleasure, enjoy quiet, and most important, listen for that internal voice. No work allowed! First and foremost, we must remember that we are spiritual beings, created in God’s image to be creative. From our earliest days in childhood, we filled our days with endless creativity. Adulthood brings about responsibility and time pressures. Yet, we are still that same creative being, and we must continually nurture that part of our souls. There are times we feel very creative in our jobs, and other times that we feel we may be crossing through a wilderness. The wilderness times can still be productive if we have other areas of our lives that satisfy our emotional needs. It’s a matter of self-care, health, and learning to self-differentiate. We have little to offer if we feel empty and worn thin. Recently, I had lunch with a choir member who was talking about the demands of her job. She works in a hospital, and has a very high-pressure position working in patient advocacy. She said something that I will never forget: “Choir rehearsal is the only thing I get to do for myself during the week. It’s the thing I do where I get to create. The choir is my community, and I can be myself there. The music feeds my soul, and I feel challenged and continually want to grow. I love choir. Thank you for that.” We must continually remember how important all of this is for the people whom we serve. It is of eternal significance. Whether we find ourselves serving in a church of 40 or 4000, the people deserve leaders who are emotionally balanced and healthy, ready to inspire them to the heights of great music making. When caring for others, we must continually find ways to care for ourselves. √ Winter 2011

Officer Comments Secretary/ Treasurer Kay Owens


onnection is the Key to Success. Let me list a few connection ideas for you. Connection with the student. As choral directors we should connect to our students first, and then expect them to be musicians. Connection can happen in several different ways. Connect with your students’ interests other than music. I hand out an information sheet at the beginning of each school year for students to complete and return to me. Included is space for the student to list his/her goals and interests. I know that it is difficult to attend every event your students may be in involved in during the school year. However, if you just choose one and let them know that you were there to support them, that speaks volumes. In case you cannot attend the event, ask the student about it the next time they are in choir. Also allow students to know that they can come to your office and talk with you about anything involving their life. You are not only a choir director, but also a sounding board for these students. In fact, you may be the only sounding board in their lives. Once you connect to a student, that student will do more for you in terms of involvement in choir, leadership in choir, and in helping with any discipline issues that may arise, because they become the model. Connection in the music. A director should choose music that fits the choir. All too often we as choral directors choose the music we want to perform, not necessarily the music that fits our choir. For example, when choosing UIL music, look through the range, the text, the meaning of the text, and the character of the piece and ask yourself whether or not it fits your choir. After all of these points have been determined, then ask yourself, “Do I like this piece of music?” If you don’t like the music, you will not teach it well. In the case of UIL, I think directors too often have already made a

Winter 2011

second or third division rating even before teaching a note because the music is not accessible to the choir. So merge the two connections — you must choose music that is accessible to your choir; you must choose music that you connect with so you will be an effective teacher. Connection is a process of balance. The connection with students and the connection with the music need to merge for the success of a choral program. This connection is a process that takes time to accomplish within the school year. As choral directors we often focus on one of the two areas. For example we spend endless hours choosing the best literature for our choir but we have not taken the time to invest in the students. Simply put, you must have students in the program to perform music. On the other hand, we may have connected with our students


but we do not choose the appropriate music for the choir. It has taken me years to figure out the balance between the two areas of connection with students and connection with the music. Once the process of balancing these two areas clicks, you have success in your program! I hope in some way I have stirred your thoughts about connection. In the instant communication times in which we live, the connection being a text or a post on Facebook, it is more important than ever that we connect on a one-toone basis with our students. I highly encourage you to connect! Even if you have a system in place, think out of the box to create new ways of connecting with students. The process may seem slow now but the connection will last a lifetime for you and the student. Happy Connecting! √




Winter 2011


Texas Choral Directors Association

56th Annual Convention and New Music Reading Clinic July 27-30, 2011 – San Antonio Convention Center he 2011 Convention will feature headliners Donald Neuen, Jonathan Reed and Lynne Gackle, plus 13 New Music Reading Sessions and more than 250 titles. Choose from 35-plus workshops at all levels, including workshops specifically for Student Members. High school students preparing for careers in music will benefit from High School Student Day, a full-day conference


designed specifically for them. Enjoy performances of TDCA Commissioned Works by Craig Hella Johnson and Dan Davidson, the MS/JH Honor Choir directed by Lynne Gackle, and the inaugural Church Division Festival Chorus, directed by Donald Neuen. Explore the Trade Show featuring more than 300 exhibit booths, and don’t miss the BBQ, with entertainment by the House Jacks!

For registration information: TCDA


7900 Centre Park Drive, Suite A


Austin, TX 78754






Winter 2011


Texas Choral Directors Association

56th Annual Convention and New Music Reading Clinic July 27-30, 2011 – San Antonio Convention Center he 2011 Convention will feature headliners Donald Neuen, Jonathan Reed and Lynne Gackle, plus 13 New Music Reading Sessions and more than 250 titles. Choose from 35-plus workshops at all levels, including workshops specifically for Student Members. High school students preparing for careers in music will benefit from High School Student Day, a full-day conference


designed specifically for them. Enjoy performances of TDCA Commissioned Works by Craig Hella Johnson and Dan Davidson, the MS/JH Honor Choir directed by Lynne Gackle, and the inaugural Church Division Festival Chorus, directed by Donald Neuen. Explore the Trade Show featuring more than 300 exhibit booths, and don’t miss the BBQ, with entertainment by the House Jacks!

For registration information: Winter 2011TCDA


7900 Centre Park Drive, Suite A


Austin, TX 78754 TEXAS√SINGS!





Texas Sings! Winter 2011 Issue