Marty Lassman, Delaware ACDA treasurer and teacher at Cab Calloway School of the Arts, will be presenting our Jazz Reading Session at the Rehoboth Beach Choral Workshop this year.
"I'm excited to be one of the presenters at this year's Rehoboth Beach Choral Workshop. I was asked to do a session on Jazz, and I know the immediate concerns everyone will have. Everyone loves singing the pieces but many are worried about how to present an authentic performance. With that in mind, I chose four pieces that will:
by David Lockart, President-elect, DE ACDA
Of the many benefits ACDA membership provides, I would like to reflect on ACDA’s mission to “inspire choral excellence,” and my experience with the finest choral conference I have attended.
Having spent the past two Eastern Division Conferences (Rhode Island and Baltimore) as the Interest Session Chair, I was delighted when Dr. Robert Duff, Director of Choral Activities at Dartmouth College, called and asked if I would take on the role of Asst. Interest Session Chair for the National Conference. For approximately a year, Bob and I organized the General Interest Sessions and, with leadership from composer Steven Sametz, the Composers Track Interest Sessions. We organized and edited over 70 presenters’ session information, photos, biographies, and session handouts for publication in the Choral Journal and on the conference app. During the conference, we coordinated the presenters, the session rooms and AV set-ups, pianos, risers, Session volunteers, presiders, and conference center personnel.
One of the best aspects of attending any ACDA conference or event is strengthening the connections made with our friends and colleagues. The Salt Lake City conference was no exception, as I enjoyed connecting with the ACDA leadership, friends old and new, and meeting new friends. The organizational meeting in ACDA President-Elect’s suite included Mary Hopper, ACDA President Elect, Executive Director Tim Sharp, Program Chair Mike Huff, ACDA Associate Director Craig Gregory, performance site chairs, and the leaders of the Honor Choirs, Hospitality, Interest Sessions, Auditioned Choirs, and Foreign Choirs.
Being from NJ, I was delighted to enjoy a dinner at the famous Red Iguana restaurant with Jack Hill, Chris Thomas, Laurie Lausi, Lori Lynch and the rest of the NJ delegate. It was a delight visiting with Joseph Flummerfelt, one of my most influential mentors, and reconnecting with some graduate school buddies including Andre Thomas and Anton Armstrong. I enjoyed spending time with our Delaware contingent, including Duane Cottrell, Cera Babb, Joanne Ward, Arreon Harley, Paul Head, Alexis Ford, Peter Solecki, Ned Perwo and Sara Gaines. Tom Sabatino was also on hand manning the JW Pepper booth.
Salt Lake City provided an excellent conference site. Several major hotels were within walking distance to the massive Salt Palace Conference Center, which housed all of the Interest Sessions, Conference Registration, Honor Choir rehearsal space, and industry vendor booths. Over 5000 choral directors attended. An additional 5000 choristers from invited, auditioned and honor choirs were present to perform at the many concert venues, all within easy walking distance. The venues included the Abravanel Hall (home of the Utah Symphony Orchestra and Chorus), the Mormon Tabernacle, the LDS Conference Center (whose 21,000 seats were full for the closing conference concert), and a nearby cathedral.
One obvious benefit of attending an ACDA conference is listening to excellent choirs – how they shape phrases, balance, blend, unify vowels, infuse feeling in their performance, and manage a variety of literature. Notable performances were given by our friend Stephen Holmes and the Maryland State Boychoir, the USC Chamber Singers, the Iowa State Singers, as well as some fabulous foreign choirs, The Metropolitan Chorus of Tokyo, Sine Nomine from Cuba, and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. The big evening concerts were phenomenal. On the opening night, the King’s Singers and the Real Group performed to a packed audience in the Tabernacle. The next night featured the Utah Symphony with combined ensembles of the University of Utah, featuring the Verdi Four Sacred Pieces and other selections. On the third night, I attended a flawless concert in the Tabernacle by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The closing concert in the LDS Conference Center featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Sylvia McNair, Santino Fontana, the USAF Singing Sergeants, which were joined by all of the honor choir members for the final selection. After a poignant message from Sylvia McNair about how important we all are in the lives of our singers, there were few dry eyes.
I am hopeful that this article will inspire you to set aside the time and expense necessary to attend ACDA events, including our DE ACDA Choral Workshop in June, Voices United in August, the Division Conference (February 2016 in Boston), and the 2017 National Conference in Minneapolis. You will be inspired, and the singers in your choirs will benefit from what you have experienced. Mark your calendars and visit the DEACDA website frequently for new news and information.
Please visit http://www.deacda.org/resources.html to sign up for DE ACDA notices.
124 young men from 9 different schools participated in Men Only Aloud - a Choral Workshop for the Middle School Boy this year!
by Kelly Hudson, Fine Arts Department Chair, Caravel Academy, Bear, Delaware
The Men Only Aloud workshop is an awesome experience for middle school boys, and this year was no exception.
Not only does this event allow them to sing with lots of other boys (where they may be one of only a few in their school choir), but it also gives them one-on-one attention where the needs of a male singer can be addressed. As a female director that is often challenged by the changing male voice, this festival is a great learning experience for me to gain tips and techniques from the clinicians. My boys love it and look forward to it every year.
Here are a few things, Ms. Hudson's students had to say about the workshop this year:
“The director was very fun but also could get things done.”
“I liked how he had jokes during the festival.”
“I felt that the songs, the director, and the experience have taught me many things. They've taught me to sing at a higher pitch, the importance of having a smile on my face when singing, and to be more confident in my abilities. I felt lucky to have participated in such a wonderful and memorable event. The thing I enjoyed most was just the whole experience in general. This experience has helped me raise my self-esteem and the importance of this is that you sing better when you feel good about yourself. If you don't feel good about yourself and you try to fake a smile, the performance will always go horrible one way or another. In the end of it all, I feel like if I could go through it all over again, I would for the whole experience.”
“I liked how he taught us some songs with only words, no sheet music. It was a new experience that I thought was pretty cool.”
We are delighted to announce the 2015 Delaware ACDA Children’s Honor Choir Festival to be held on March 6-7, 2015 at Newark High School. Our guest conductor this year will be Anthony Trecek-King, Artistic Director of the Boston Children’s Chorus. Prior to joining BCC, Mr. Trecek-King earned international acclaim for his work as a choral director. At BCC, he has been integral to the development of a rigorous and highly advanced musical curriculum. In addition to learning musicianship skills, an interpersonal aspect is integrated into the experience for BCC singers, providing a nurturing environment that encourages them to become compassionate and engaged citizens.
You are invited to select singers in grades 4-6 to be a part of this festive weekend. We ask that—to the extent possible—you send an equal number of sopranos and altos. Please submit your materials as soon as possible, but no later than 1/18/2015 -- the maximum number of singers that can be accepted is 150 (if we reach 150 prior to this date, your registration check will be returned to you). Director must be a member of ACDA (applications can be found at www.acda.org). Please feel free to share this information with your colleagues.
We will work on Friday, March 6 from 5:45-8:30pm and on Saturday, March 7 from 9:15-4:30pm. The festival concert will take place at 4:00pm: there will be a $5 admission fee for age 6 and up. Included in the $45 registration fee for each singer will be lunch, snacks and drinks for singers on Saturday, an Honor Choir t-shirt to be worn for the concert, octavos and a practice recording (music/recordings will be sent to the director for distribution). Directors are encouraged to participate in the weekend’s activities to the fullest extent possible. If you would like to volunteer for any of the tasks required to make this weekend a success, please let us know!
We look forward to another successful year—please join us in providing a special choral experience for our young singers. For more information (like registration forms), please contact either, Lys Murray or Kelly Hudson.
By Margaret Anne Butterfield, Upper School Choir Director & IB Music Instructor, Wilmington Friends School
I am privileged to teach at a school where learning about various countries and cultures is highly valued. Of course, we learn about different cultures with choral music all the time! Because music is a universal language and a gateway to experiencing different points of view, I wanted to share 5 tips on including multicultural music in choral programming.
1. Singing in unfamiliar languages is easier with IPA. (Wouldn't it be lovely if all publishers used the same system?!?) If IPA isn't included, seek out a native speaker when possible. When my choir was learning Érik a Som*, I sought assistance from a colleague from Hungary and transcribed her pronunciation into IPA to share with my students. Once we mastered the pronunciation, we gave an impromptu performance for her math class. She loved it and praised the students for their diction!
2. Drums always add a "cool" factor. So does choreography, when appropriate. Mohland Ke Ktoglelang Hae was a huge hit with my choir and made other kids want to join!
3. Don't be afraid to teach something by rote. Doing so makes pieces from oral/aural traditions more authentic. And this isn't limited to pieces from other countries - the same practice works for our own folk songs. Those who attended Voices United in 2013 heard the Festival Choir with Jeff Johnson sing Down in the River to Pray using this very approach. If you are looking for a good source for African songs, Vela Vela is an excellent resource by Mollie Stone, drawn from her experiences with the Chicago Children's Choir and University of Cape Town in South Africa. The book comes with a DVD that includes individual part instruction as well as full performances. It also includes interviews with South African singers.
4. Get your audience involved by teaching them a song during your concert. A good resource is Nick Page's Sing With Us collection. We often do this as a "seventh inning stretch" during longer programs without an intermission - it's a win-win for the choirs and the audience.
5. Look for musical elements/gestures that are similar to something your kids know. It helps them make connections to other cultures and provides a great opportunity to explore how many people in a different part of the world experience the same musical phenomena. Learning traditional songs opens the door to investigation of ideas and elements that are significant in other cultures.
While I may be stating the obvious here, studying music of other cultures allows students to make other valuable sociological observations. When we did Sten Kallman's arrangement of the Haitian folksong Peze Kafé last year, in addition to mastering the various rhythmic and melodic patterns, it was fascinating to learn about the important of coffee in Haitian culture. And really, who doesn't love a good cup o' joe!
*Find more information about the repertoire mentioned above, here:
Mohlang Ke Ktoglelang Hae - Sesotho Folksong, arr. Rudolph deBeer; SATB - Hal Leonard Music
Peze Kafé - Haitian Folksong, arr. Sten Kallman; SATB - Walton Music
Érik a Som - Hungarian Folksong, arr. Lajos Bardos; SAB - Santa Barbara Music
Vela Vela - striving for authentic performance in black South African choral music, Mollie Spector Stone (self-published booklet with DVD)
Sing With Us Songbook - Nick Page; Hal Leonard
To purchase these titles (or for more information), please contact our friends at The Musical Source. For questions or comments about how multicultural music in the classroom, feel free to contact Margaret Anne Butterfield.
In the fall issue of ChorTeach (the choral director's online magazine of ACDA), you can find 119 different articles on many different topics (children's and church choirs to high school, middle school and professional ensembles). Check it out during your "lunch break" sometime.
One article in particular caught our attention, Sabbath Rest for Choral Directors by Jeffrey Benson. As Benson says in the article, "Most of us work long hours and dedicate our lives to this profession without stopping long enough to recharge our batteries." In the article, Benson gives 7 different ideas of ways to recharge your batteries, leading to a more inspired, renewed and rejuvenated person and choral director.
By Marty Lassman, Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington
Block scheduling turned out to be a surprisingly positive change when I grouped my choirs by gender.
Last year, because all Red Clay secondary schools went to block scheduling, I was (for the first time) able to schedule choirs across the grade levels. I had heard that segregating the genders was an advantage so I tried it, and it is one of the reasons I love block scheduling!
Here are 3 reasons why I've loved having my choirs grouped by gender:
1. Combining the girls across grade levels allows me to perform much more difficult music than is available for middle school mixed choirs. In addition, behavior problems really decrease. For some reason, the girls are much more rule driven so discipline problems are negligible. But, back to the music -- much more difficult and satisfying literature is available in Unison as well as SA, SSA and sometimes SSAA formats. Singing in foreign languages with better vowels is far easier as well.
2. Having a choir of just guys is a disciplinary struggle BUT the singing is remarkable. The guys get a chance to see how older boys have gotten through the voice change and how "cool" it is to sing. The literature can be challenging because the boy who was a soprano in September could be a tenor in January, but singing pop songs (in addition to classical literature) and adding "boy band" choreography is just awesome for them.
3. Word spreads and the choirs grow. Last year, I had 55 girls in an SSA choir. This year I have two choirs with a combined 130 girls! Last year, I had 20 boys in the Men's Choir. This year I have 41 and the counselor told me that more boys wanted to be in choir, but could not work out the scheduling. The guys love being in choir!
Clearly, after my experience this year, I highly recommend that you consider making the switch as well. And one more thing -- teaching SAB or SATB literature int he separate choirs and then combining for a concert works really well, and the singers learn the music a lot faster!
By John Bell, PS duPont Middle School, Wilmington
I believe the keys to managing large middle school choral ensembles are consistency, flexibility, patience, self-reflection and high expectations.
I have spent the past 18 years trying to figure out better ways to manage my middle school choral classroom. I have 5 choir classes that meet daily with a mix of 6th, 7th and 8th graders, and an average of 50 students in each class. Acknowledging that my teaching will be a work in progress until the day I retire, I would like to share a few things that have worked well for me and my students.
1. The tone of the class is set before the bell rings. The most important part of the class period is the time before the bell rings when the students are entering the room. If the students enter the room and there is chaos, there will be little learning for the rest of the period.
When meeting new 6th graders at the start of the year, my priority is in establishing how they are to enter the room before class begins. My new students are expected to enter the room quietly, be seated, place their belongings under their seats and wait for class to begin without talking. We do have to practice this quite a bit, and I do send them back into the hallway to line up in the hall and try again until they get it right. However, I do not want the students to view this classroom expectation as punitive in nature, so I have found it best to remain as patient as possible during this process. My goal is that they understand if we start class in a calm manner we are going to have a great rehearsal. Otherwise, there will be a lot of time wasted.
I certainly do not expect them to continue this rigid routine for the entire three years they are in my program. The bigger goal is for students to learn to be responsible for their actions and be able to come into my room and begin class without the chaos most would expect from a class of 50 middle school students. When needed, I even run my eighth graders through the same routine as the sixth graders just as a "friendly reminder" when they seem to forget.
2. An organized folder management system. I have talked to many choir directors who find folders and folder cabinets hard to manage because the students are in such close quarters trying to retrieve and return their folders. Just this year I have found a solution that seems to be working. I have two typical Wenger folder cabinets with a total of two hundred slots. Rather than assigning folders 1-50 to the same class, folders 51-100 to the next class, etc. I took three classes and alternated the folder assignments. Folder 1 is for Chorale, Folder 2 for Seventh Grade Choir and Folder 3 for Men's Chorus, and so on.
This does two things: not only does this help relieve some of the congestion when students are getting their folders, it also helps them put the folders back into the correct slot, because the empty slots occur every third time, not in a large grouping next to each other. At the beginning of the year I take time to dismiss the students by row to get their folders and put them back, with the ultimate goal of them being able to get them as they enter the room and put them away before they leave. This is another routine that needs to be practiced.
3. Don't underestimate what middle schoolers can do. I hear time and time again at workshops, "...now you middle school teachers should not try this. Middle school kids aren't quite mature enough..." And I always resound, "Challenge accepted!" I was once told in a workshop that we shouldn't do lip trill warm-ups. We do them almost every day. When teaching parts, I have my class of 64 students arrange themselves in several circles so students can listen to others in their section better. I encourage all of my students to sing by themselves in front of the class and work hard to develop a safe environment where students support each other. I expect that my students will learn to rehearse so that my class doesn't always feel like a pot of water about to boil over.
We have to set high expectations because students will fall to low expectations just as fast as they will rise to high expectations. We have to be consistent and patient because middle school students are struggling to feel like young adults while still wanting to hold onto their childhood. Finally, we must self-reflect because no two students or groups of students are the same and what works for one group will not (and usually doesn't) work for all.
This year's DEACDA Rehoboth Beach Choral Workshop was a great success with more than 50 choral directors from the state and the region gathering at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Lewes.
With reading sessions for elementary, middle school, high school choirs and church musicians, the event strived to meet the diverse needs of choral musicians in Delaware. The headliner of the workshop, Stephen Holmes of the Maryland State Boychoir, focused on the developing mail voice, bringing six young male singers in various stages of vocal maturity to use as a demonstration ensemble. Even workshop attendees who don't work with singers of this age were able to learn methodologies to try with their choirs.
Next year's workshop dates with be June 11-12, 2015. Certificates for Clock Hours or PIP's are available upon request.