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Items by Joshua Bronfman

Results: 78
Title Author Date
ChoralBlog: How to Win a Nobel Prize
Cal Newport, who writes one of my favorite blogs, posted this summary of a talk given in 1986 by Nobel Prize winner Richard Hamming. The talk he gave, and Cal's post, speak to the value of hard work, time use, and creating conditions to foster creativity. I found it a fascinating read, and super va...
ChoralBlog: The Best Overtone Singing I've Ever Heard
ChoralBlog: Practice, Learning, and the 10,000 Hour Rule
The Your Are Not So Smart website and podcast are really interesting. This episdoe of the podcast, consists of a discussion of a number of issues surrounding learning, memory, and motor skills (all important issues for musicians). The intervewee is David Epstein, the author of the book The Sports G...
ChoralBlog: Retreat: Why Do We Do it?
I just got back from my fall retreat with my top choir, and again I am faced with this inconsistency: Why do choirs go on retreat? Bands don’t. Orchestras certainly don’t. I often receive a little grief from folks about the large expenditure of money. “Is this really necessary&r...
ChoralBlog: Leadership and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
This article talks about the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and their model of creating a sense of mission, vision, and purpose. It's an interesting read. I'm not sure it totally translates to the rest of the world...I wonder whether the model is repeatable outside of the community that it comes from (th...
ChoralBlog: Gorgeous
Take three minutes and thirteen seconds. Maybe grab a cup of coffee. Close the door, turn up the volume. Listen.  
ChoralBlog: A Couple of Great Videos
So this first one has been going around for awhile. David Belisle, the Rhode Island coach in the Little League World Series, pulls his team together after they were eliminated by Chicago in a close game. His speech is pretty damn good, and I find myself tearing up a bit there toward the en...
Comment: Re: Planning an International Tour? New Passport Guidelines!
Thanks for these clarifications. It's an issue I was not aware of, and I have taken a few international trips in the past few years. I hope this blog post will prevent more incidences like the one you described!
ChoralBlog: Planning an International Tour? New Passport Guidelines!
It looks like there's been a change recently to the travel and passport recommendation by the U.S. State Department. They are now recommending your passports be valid for at least six months prior to departing from the U.S. You might be denied entrance into the country y...
ChoralBlog: Welcome Back
The new year is fast approaching for many of us. Those of you at the collegiate level on trimester, who don't start until the end of September (SZ!), well I'm just not talking to you (besides, you didn't finish until like, two weeks before the Fourth of July). So for the rest of you, I hope you get ...
ChoralBlog: The Year Winds Down
The year is finally winding down. Haydn Creation last week. Opera Gala this week. Now it's just juries and tour (Cuba this year).   I really love this time. The pressure is finally starting to dissipate. It's not that I'm less busy; There are still plenty of juries, ...
ChoralBlog: Touching Performance
  via Neatorama  
ChoralBlog: The Surgical Solution was Surprisingly Unpopular
  via Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise
Comment: Re: Retirement
Impressive. I don't know if my post was clear, but I'm not so sure I'd even make the right decision when the time came. I also worry about retirement as a conductor. Will I know when it's time? Will my wife need to pull me aside and say "honey, it's time."    So kudos to you for doing the right...
ChoralBlog: Retirement
Awhile back I wrote a post about the dos and don’ts of leaving a conducting or music teaching job. Some interesting discussion was generated from that post, and I think some good things came out of it. The main conclusion I came to was that leaving a job is not a passive endeavor. One must tak...
ChoralBlog: The Joy of Sight Reading
One of my former students, a soprano, asked me if she could sing alto on Haydn Creation. I asked her why, and she said that she wanted a challenge because she loved sight reading! I've heard a few singers say this before (I am not one), and I thought it was a subject matter worth unpacking. How is...
ChoralBlog: Not Too Bad for a "Young Conductor"
  Amazing!
ChoralBlog: How Hard is This Piece?
Had a concert last night, so this post is going up late. (it went well, thanks for asking).   My semi-pro choir rehearses for two weeks prior to a concert and then takes a 3-5 week break before we come back together for the next cycle. As we went through this cycle of rehearsals and performance,...
ChoralBlog: Lars Edlund (1922-2013)
We lost another of influential member of the Swedish Choral Miracle at the end of last year. Lars Edlund, who wrote some phenominal choral music, including his Gloria, one of my all time favorites, passed away in December. I can't find a recording of the Gloria online to share, but it was recorde...
ChoralBlog: I'm Not Sure What to Make of This
Russian Police Choir Performs "Get Lucky" at Opening Ceremony.   Click on the link at your own risk.
ChoralBlog: Perfect Pitch? Take a Pill!
This story is fascinating. Harvard Professor Takao Hensch gave a pill to some adults and was able to teach them to have perfect pitch.   So how many of you would take a pill in order to have perfect pitch? An entire choir full of singers with perfect pitch? I see some problems, as well a lot of...
Comment: Re: Deep Creative Work
I really like how he quantifies his "fixed" time expenditures, particularly classes, and to a certain extent meetings and emails and the like. Then through the chart he clearly shows that when you do "other" stuff, the time comes specifically at the expense of deep, creative time. I've always intell...
ChoralBlog: Deep Creative Work
I read the blog Study Hacks regularly. It's a great resources examining the use of time, particularly at the college level, but it applies elsewhere. In this post he examines his work load, common things that he works on, and the disparity between a "good week" in which he gets to do a lot of singl...
ChoralBlog: Cool Product
Hearing loss is one of my greatest fears. My oldest daughter failed the hearing test they give newborns, and I almost had a heart attack (the test is notoriously inaccurate, apparently, which my response then is "so why give it!? Her hearing is fine, btw). I am seriously considering a pair of t...
ChoralBlog: National Collegiate Chorus Organization
I wrote this sitting in the airport in Charleston, SC, waiting for the first flight on my longish trip home. I was coming home from the National Collegiate Chorus Organization's biennial conference (NCCO, not to be confused with the NCCCO - National Commission for the Certification of Crane Oper...
ChoralBlog: Audition Tour
I've been doing Honor Choir auditions for the past week. I've seen over 400 kids from around the state. 2.5 minutes of solo, 2.5 minutes of sight reading. I've heard Sento nel Core more times than I care to remember. On Thursday alone, I sat through 10 hours of auditions, 120 kids, with ...
Comment: Re: How to Leave a Job
My pleasure. I seen it done wrong so many times, and I think it's really a very hard thing to do in a way that is best for the people and the program you are leaving. Which is the whole point, really. I've seen decent, good-hearted people stick around a bit too long, for whatever reason, and become...
Comment: Re: How to Leave a Job
I never thought of clergy. Is the three-year rule explicit or implicit? and this:  retired director moving into the community, joining another director’s choir, and conducting the choir verbally from within the section. Then to make matters worse, following the rehearsal, they have the need to...
Comment: Re: How to Leave a Job
Sure. Sometimes it is unavoidable. For me the biggest piece is the aggressive, proactive approach, combined with the "stay away" as long as you can thing. I didn't discuss church choirs, as I have less experience, but it seems to me would be another level of unavoidable contact, but basically simila...
ChoralBlog: How to Leave a Job
I've been thinking a lot about the unwritten rules of leaving a job (not because I am leaving, but because I know a number of colleagues and former students who are leaving or have left good programs in the last couple of years). I think a lot of us aren't really great at leaving, especi...
Comment: Re: Choir Around the Internet
Here is the link to the octavo. There are two different editions, I think.
ChoralBlog: Choir Around the Internet
Here are a collection of things from around the internet that are interesting, beautiful, silly, and sometimes barely related to the choral art, but nonetheless worth a look:   1) Living Piano Link, via The Awesomer   2) Live at a Train Station (anyone know thie piec...
ChoralBlog: Chasing Your Tail
This semester I have spent an inordinate amount of time "chasing my tail," as a fellow director put it. With my community group, we found out that our venue for our concert next week is having a dance next door to the sanctuary we'd be performing in (it's a church with a private school attached). W...
ChoralBlog: Do Numbers Tell the Whole Story
Awhile back I was having a friendly argument with a colleague about the difference between teaching academic music classes and performing classes to non-music majors. This colleague (and good friend) lamented having to teach a non-performance based music class that was required for non-music maj...
ChoralBlog: The Lowest C
I'm not really sure what to make of this. The E is true. It rings. I would take it. The C...not so much. And it's clearly a lipsynched performance, so how repeatable is it...But really, who cares, right? It's freaking low. Anybody out there come across a singer like this before? Or are you this sing...
Comment: Re: Auditions V - What do you prioritize?
For my top college choir, my rules for reauditions are that incoming second year students must do a full reaudition. Anyone who has completed two years of choir with good grades is automatically back in, but I want to hear them again at audition time, and I will ask them to do the sight reading and...
Comment: Re: German Motets
Yes, I can, but I think you will get the most from digging around and finding out for yourself. Most of the scores are on cpdl or imslp, and you can usually find great recordings on Spotify. I recommend Stephen Layton's interpretation of the Bruckner.   This year my choir is doing Bruckner Ave M...
ChoralBlog: Gettin' Paid (Money, Strikes, Unions and Money and Money)
As most of you are aware, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra are in the middle of a protracted lockout, which threatens to undermine one of the great orchestras in the US. Regardless of the side you might take in the debate, we all know it is a shame to see such a great musical institutio...
ChoralBlog: German Motets
A colleague of mine recently said: "I make it a point to do a German motet every year." That statement sort of blew me away, and changed the way I program for my top college choir. I thought, “Well, of course,” but it wasn’t a thing I actually did. Since then I’ve c...
ChoralBlog: Auditions (Sidebar)
The journal Nature published this interesting study that calls into question how our visual perceptions might unintentionally influence auditions: The participants were presented with recordings of the three finalists in each of ten prestigious international competitions, and were asked to guess t...
ChoralBlog: Choir is Good for You (Duh!)
Welcome back.    I found these two articles online over the summer. It's nothing revelatory to a choir director, but having science support us by showing the effects of singing in choir always helps. The first article is the most interesting to me: Researchers in Sweden...
ChoralBlog: A Great Article
This is a fabulous article written by an amateur singing in his church choir for the first time. As choir directors, we are all familiar with the tropes he puts forward, but he does so in such an original and provacative way that I found it enthralling. I hope you enjoy it.   GQ.com - The Vul...
ChoralBlog: Live From The Conference: Saturday, March 16th
I'm lying in my hotel with the AC blasting. It has been quite a whirlwind past few days. I have seen and heard a lot. Too much to cover in one short blog post. For now, I think I will just give you some of my basic impressions, in no particular order. I love seeing old friends and meeting new one...
ChoralBlog: Grammys To Honor Music Teachers
From the New York Times: The Grammy Awards are adding a new honor for music teachers. Neil Portnow, the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, announced the new award for music educators, which will be presented for the first time next year. He made the announcement...
ChoralBlog: Handling Questions During Rehearsal
I love this flow chart for taking questions in rehearsal...some real issues, some more tongue-in-cheek, but a fun poster for your rehearsal room wall.                                                          ...
ChoralBlog: Accountability: Check Days
So I posted last week about my perspective on the use (or disuse) of sectionals in my auditioned ensembles. The next level of accountability for me is check days, also known as quartet (or octet) testing, where singers get up in class and have to sing the selected piece, one on a part. I...
Comment: Re: Sectionals
Well, you hit the two nails on the head, really.   1) Check days. For undergards, it really makes a difference. The way they are graded is important, too. I have a few different methods...hmmm, I feel a new post coming on... 2) Culture. My senior members expect the younger singer...
ChoralBlog: Sectionals
I don't care much for sectionals. I do them, but in limited circumstances. My issue with sectionals is primarily that they breed dependence, rather than independence (see Richard Sparks' posts here and here). For a lot of choirs (non-auditioned, school age choirs, etc.), they make a l...
ChoralBlog: How Old Were You?
When was the first time you conducted a real ensemble? I bet for a lot of us, it wasn't until college. Well, this kid is here to make us all feel bad about ourselves...     via Slipped Disk    
ChoralBlog: Help Me Find Conducting Videos
This is an appeal to the robust choral community out there. I am looking for old video of historically important choral conductors conducting, preferrably in rehearsal, but also in performance. The older the better. I think the pool of video out there on youtube just isn't deep enough, and we...