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            I just returned home from Paris, where I had the incredible opportunity to study at La Schola Cantorum under the auspices of the European American Musical Alliance (EAMA). The month-long program is modeled on the pedagogy of Nadia Boulanger, the iconic teacher of Aaron Copland (and dozens of other influential 20th century musicians). While the program is predominantly geared toward composers, there were five of us who studied conducting.
            Of course, one of the benefits of hosting a program such as this in Paris is, well, Paris !  Some of the most famous churches in the world are there and we wasted no time exploring them. As it happens, while we were there, the Ensemble vocal de Notre-Dame de Paris performed a concert at Notre-Dame Cathedral. The repertoire consisted largely of music that was written and performed in and around Notre-Dame between 1518 and 1731, with a particular focus on Léonin and Pérotin and the Ars Nova period.
            The concert began with an Ave Maris Stella, a chant whose original manuscript currently resides in the Bibliothéque Nationale de France in Paris, to which the performing ensemble had access. As soon as they began singing, the audience of over 1,000 people was transported back 500 years. I got chills up my spine when I realized that I was hearing the same music in the same space as the very first performance of this piece. The effect of sitting in the middle of Notre-Dame Cathedral hearing music that was intentionally written for this space 500 years ago (yet I was hearing it LIVE) was absolutely astonishing.
            It was then that I remembered something that Rev. Louis Weil, professor emeritus of liturgics at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, once said, “Don’t argue with the building: the building always wins.” The reason why that music sounded so perfect was because it was being performed exactly where it was written to be performed, the very church in which we were sitting. The design of the church, the acoustics of the church, the materials with which the church is constructed, these were all taken into consideration before a single note was ever sung.       
            May we, as conductors, always remember this lesson when we are choosing pieces for our concerts and programs, and the buildings therein; the building always wins.
(Each week we look at one or two of the best choral works posted in the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet.  This is where we store a treasure trove of works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear.)
When the song of the angels is stilled by Paul Ayres for SATB a cappella (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: High School or Church Choir Advanced
Uses: Concert or Church
Program Themes: Christmas, Angels, Peace
This Piece Would Program Well With: Sweet Dreams From a Shade by Emma Lou Diemer available from Santa Barbara and Sheet Music Plus
Rich harmonies fill this unusual Christmas song with reflective light.  It is a bit complex, with frequently changing meter aimed at tantalizing the brains of your more musically learned audience.  In ABA form, the middle section speaks to what the work of Christmas truly is.  I would program this gem among other works with simpler harmony and more straight-forward melody. 
Here is a live performance:
When the song of the angels is stilled is available from the composer’s website:
The National Anthem of the United States, The Star-Spangled Banner, turns 200 this year, in fact the anniversary is just days away.  In commemoration of the auspicious national anniversary, the American Choral Directors Association, in partnership with the Star Spangled Music Foundation, is planning a nation-wide celebration of our national anthem on Friday, September 12, 2014.
On that day, singers throughout the U.S. will be asked to sing the National Anthem and discuss both its history and the work’s significance to our country.  A variety of commentaries and instructional materials are being prepared to elevate the discussion.  Numerous other special events are planned and ACDA is also planning to feature the Star Spangled Banner during the various divisional conferences scheduled for 2014.
(The accompanying photograph depicts the original Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song that would become our national anthem.  The flag is among the most treasured artifacts in the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.)
This one will be short (busy week!) and is not a book to read, but a great reference to have on your shelf: The A to Z of Foreign Musical Terms, by Christine Ammer. Scores often have terminology in foreign languages and since the composer put them there to give you information about performance (calando, marziale, etc.), it's imperative to know what they mean. I've almost never found a term that isn't included in this lovely, compact, inexpensive (currently $9.68 on Amazon) reference! Incredibly helpful. For "calando," for example, it tells you that it's Italian and that it means, "Becoming softer and slower." That's opposed to "calcando," which means: 1- "Forcefully, pressing on" or 2- "Imitating, copying."
Definitely worth having on your shelf!
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 end. This is how I feel about my choir at the end of every year, after every convention performance, and at the end of every tour. The video may be about baseball, but as we all know, it's really all about so much, much more. We've run into some problems embedding videos on choralnet lately, so you'll have to click through to view it:
The second video I found is one of the the most unique and original things I've seen in the choral world in a long, long time. The group performing is the Harmonious Choral of Ghana.  In this clip they are performing the Call Him Louder portion of Mendelssohn's Elijah. Before you scoff at the singing, or the "instrumentation" or anything else, just look and listen with an open mind. What they are doing here is nothing short of amazing. First of all, they are making due with what they have, and they are in no way ashamed of it. Second of all, this performance has distinct cultural spin on it. We all filter our performances through our own cultural lens which informs how we direct the performance, but this cultural lens is HUGE. The result is, if you can get past the lack of authenticity and all that, one of the most original performances you'll see. I say we bring these folks to the next National ACDA convention!
       The central thesis of this brief discussion is: perform music of good quality. Music of distinction, performed well, is an experience of lasting value. In contrast, performing "trendy," easy-access, instantly effective music is, by nature, an ephemeral pleasure, a temporary titillation. The satisfaction of the experience is generally short lived. Each individual piece rarely has the capacity continuously to enrich, though the emotions it taps may be strong.
       Rock music, for example, appeals so greatly to so many because its principal means of communication-a pulsating, repeated beat projected at enormous volume-is primal. The sound-continuum, over time, is mesmerizing, provocative, and quasi-erotic. Appreciation of it requires little thought. “Pop" music holds an extraordinary attraction for much of our contemporary society. Some pop music may rise above stereotypical cliches, but most of it tends only to solidify the values, traditions, and mores of the current popular culture. Why would we need to hear it in church when we are surrounded (drowned) by it every day?
       Choral repertoire is the richest and most diverse in the field of music. Today, conductors have the great fortune of being able to select from an inexhaustible treasure-trove of music from the 15th through the 21st centuries. The major sacred genres of the Church -Mass, motet, cantata, oratorio, Passion, magnificat, Requiem, chorale, and anthem are contained in anthologies, collections, and collected works in music libraries in most colleges and universities. Publishers make available an enormous quantity of significant choral literature, and most offer a wide range of repertoire. Some cater to popular demand and are under financial pressure to publish music that is easily accessible, but probably will be of little enduring value.
       One of the profound rewards of performing the vast wealth of sacred choral music drawn from the heritage of seven centuries is that for the participants and listeners, the cumulative experience provides insight into the cultural and aesthetic values of past eras. Singers and listeners who are challenged and invigorated through the performance of the great choral works of the church acquire a broad perspective upon which to base their own values. By cultivating within us the capacity to experience the profound enrichment of "enlightened cherishing”, the choral conductor satisfies one of her/his primary responsibilities: to educate. In the process, choral singers and listeners may be inspired by the depth inherent in this music and how it enriches their lives.
       Great choral literature demands participation in the process of creating, recreating, and listening. The reward gained in performing and receiving a Bach cantata, a Brahms motet, concerted works of Schütz, Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb, a Josquin Sanctus, Britten’s War Requiem, a Schubert Lied, Monteverdi’s madrigals of Book V, Purcell anthems, a Palestrina motet Handel’s “other” oratorios, Poulenc’s chansons, new works by Argento or Harbison or O’Regan is directly proportional to the mental and emotional energy put into rehearsing it.  The greater the degree of intrinsic compositional integrity, the richer the rewards singers experience in meeting the challenge.
       Performing the great sacred choral literature of our western heritage will impact significantly on the quality of spiritual lives. Much of the rich choral repertoire of the Renaissance lies dusty on library shelves, and contemporary composers of significant talent and originality languish in obscurity. This is a great shame, because this music, Schiitz's motets from Geistliche Chornusik, Monteverdi's Vespers, Haydn's Masses, Bach's motets and Passions, Purcell's anthems, Brahms's Fest und Gedenksprüche, Mozart’s C Minor Mass, O’Regan’s motets, Stravinsky's Symphonie de Psaumes - can challenge, educate, invigorate, and impact significantly on the quality of spiritual life of students and conductors who perform them. To deny students the pleasure and life-enriching experience of rehearsing and performing the best choral literature of the master composers of western music, with its multi-leveled challenges, denigrates our principal purpose: educating and inspiring.
Taking Attendance on the iPad, by Stephen Rotz
If you have large ensembles, you know that taking attendance is not always simple.  Inspired by Barbara Retzko’s article in ChorTeach, I have begun taking attendance using the iPhone/iPad app ‘Attendance2’ by David Reed. It is a fantastic tool that is worth much more than the $4.99 price tag. I highly recommend that you explore the app by reading Ms. Retzko’s article, exploring Dr. Reed’s Attendance2 website, and downloading the app itself.  A few minutes on each of these sites will show you how you can take attendance using app-generated QR codes for each student.
Each year I print a folder cover for each of my students.  It slides in the clear plastic sleeve on the exterior of their 3-ring chorus folder.  It has their name, lists which choir they are in and shows their folder number. This year, it also includes their QR code that corresponds with Attendance2! This means no scissors—no cutting out QR codes! I simply scan their folder as they enter the room. (You could also use an iPad document camera stand to have an attendance station.) Having figured out how to use Microsoft Office’s mail merge capabilities to incorporate the QR code onto their chorus folder, I have made a tutorial video sharing the QR/mail merge process. The process is not always intuitive, but I walk you through each step very carefully.
Happy scanning! 
(Each week we look at one or two of the best choral works posted in the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet.  This is where we store a treasure trove of works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear.)
Fighting Over What We Believe by Elizabeth Alexander for SATB soloists and piano (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: High School Advanced
Uses: Concert or Church
Program Themes: Compassion, Differences, Opinions, Divided Beliefs, Peace
This Piece Would Program Well With: Day by Day by Schwartz/Poorman available from JWPepper and Sheet Music Plus
And now for something REALLY different.   On first listen I wasn’t sure what this piece was.  It sounds like an ensemble number from a Broadway musical sung at an ecumenical church service.   What you will find here is a wonderful work with a passionate text that sums up the biggest issue of American culture at this time.  
How many of you have friends of diverse political parties and religions on your Facebook Account?  How many of you regularly discuss politics with people of other beliefs without demanding you are right?  How do you feel about that?
If you want your audience to stop and think, this piece is for you!
With all due respect to Twitter, there's no tool that is more powerful to my professional development as a teacher and musician than blogs. While the reflective process of writing for my own blog is extremely meaningful, I gain endless knowledge and inspiration from subscribing to the work shared by many of our colleagues. Checking my blog subscriptions is an important part of my daily ritual, and I'm constantly surprised by the quality of thought and unique ideas that roll through my feed. Luckily, there were a couple of great compilations over the summer (Music Ed-centric) that helped me expand my list of sources. With the year ramping up, it's a perfect time to set up your blog subscriptions so that you're on tap to receive a year's worth of work around the choral world. If you have favorite conductor or choral blogs, add them in the comments below!
My "Intro to Blogs" Suggestions:
If you're just diving into the world of RSS and blog subscriptions, I present a few ideas to keep in mind.
  • Get a Reader. I recommend using Feedly, which allows to you subscribe to blog feeds and categorize them for your organization. It's free, and you can use it with a Google Account (or create a new one). It's web-based, and has apps for Android/iOS as well.
  • Categorize, and Set a Routine. I have categories which I know are work-related, and I often skim that during a time of the day when I need something a little "low energy" or passive to do. Other categories are for morning coffee rituals or evening.
  • Have a Place to Save. Just as with e-mail inboxes, Feedly is not meant to store things permanently. If you want to save a post to re-read later, or archive, use a service like Evernote, Pocket or Diigo.
  • Comment! If you are interested in a post, leave a comment or question. It's a great way to start conversation and networking.
2 Music Education Blog Roundups
What Else?
Recommendations? Add them below!
Thomas M. Sterner's The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life. Sterner is a musician, worked for years as a piano tuner/technician, as well as having an interest in Eastern philosophy. It's one of the best books I've read about developing better habits of discipline and focus. He has a wonderful little section that speaks to our habit of rushing through things and multi-tasking: with a day ahead that included getting two pianos ready (one for the piano soloist with the local symphony), then travel to do other tuning work, then back in the evening to check both pianos before the concert. He notes that he'd done this kind of thing many times and knew very well how much time it took, and that it was about two and a half times the amount considered a day's work in the trade. I'll let him speak from here:
When I started on the first piano, I put all of my effort into "being slow." I opened my tool box very slowly. Instead of grabbing a handful of tools and thinking I was saving time, I took each tool out one at a time. I placed each tool neatly in position. When I began setting up the piano, I performed each process individually, trying to deliberately work slowly.

It's a funny feeling when you try this. At first, your internal dialogue is howling at you to get going and pick up the pace. It is screaming at you, "We'll never get this done, you are wasting time." It is reminding you of the whole day's worth of work you have to get done to meet everyone's approval. You can feel the anxiety start to build and the emotions floating up to the surface. However, your ego quickly loses ground to the simplicity of doing one thing at a time and doing it slowly, on purpose. It has no place to build stress and work up internal chatter. That is because working slowly in today's world goes against every thought system. You can only work slowly if you do it deliberately. Being deliberate requires you to stay in the process, to work in the present moment.

After I finished the first instrument, I even went through the process of packing up my tools with meticulous care, just to walk ten feet away and unpack them slowly, one at a time, to start the second piano. Usually I would grab two handfuls of as much as I could carry and scurry through the orchestra chairs on stage trying to sve time. Not this day, however. I was determined to carry out my goal plan of just trying to work slowly. We spend so much time rushing everything we do. Rushing had become so much of a habit that I was amazed at the concentration it took to work slowly on purpose.

I took off my watch so I wouldn't be tempted to look at the time and let that influence my pace. I told myself, "I am dong this for me and for my health, both physical and mental. I have a cell phone and, if need be, I can call whomever and tell them I am running late, and that's the best I can do."

Into the second piano, I began to realize how wonderful I felt. No nervous stomach, no anticipation of getting through the day, and no tight muscles in my shoulders and neck, just this relaxed, peaceful, what-a-nice-day-it-is feeling. I would even go so far as to describe it as blissful. Anything you can do in a rushing state is surprisingly easy when you deliberately slow it down. The revelation for me came, however, when I finished the second piano. I very slowly put my tools away one by one with my attention to every detail. I continued my effort at slowing down as I walked to my truck in the parking garage a block away. I walked very slowly, paying attention to each step. This may sound nuts at first, but it was an experiment on my part. I was experiencing such an incredible feeling of peacefulness in a situation that usually had every muscle in my body tense that I wanted to see just how far I could intensify the situation with my effort.

When I got to the truck, the clock radio came on with the turn of the key and I was dumbfounded. So little time had passed compared to what I had usually experienced for the same job in the past that I was sure the clock was incorrect. Keep in mind that I was repeating a process that I had done for many years. I have set up these pianos together sometimes five and six times a week. I had a very real concept of the time involved in the project. I pulled my watch out of my pocket as a second check. It agreed with the clock-radio that I had cut over 40 percent off the time. I had tried to work as slowly as possible and I had been sure I was running an hour late. Yet I had either worked faster (which didn't seem possible, given my attention to slowness), or I had slowed time down (an interesting thought, but few would buy it). Either way, I was sufficiently motivated to press on with the experiment throughout the remainder of the day. I got so far ahead of schedule that I was afforded the luxury of a civilized meal in a nice restaurant, instead of the usual sandwich in the truck or no lunch at all.

I have repeated these results consistently every time I have worked at being slow and deliberate. I have used this technique with everything from cleaning up the dishes after dinner to monotonous areas of piano restoration work that I don't particularly enjoy. The only thing that foils the result is when I am particularly lacking in stamina and find myself drifting back and forth between working with slowness and succumbing to my feeling of, "I have to get this work done quickly."
The rest of the book is certainly as good and as interesting as this passage.

How often do we rush our own work? Whether in preparation (score study, prepping for a class), teaching or rehearsal, does rushing (because we know we have so much to cover!) help?

One of the notable things about the Swedish Radio Choir is their ability to work in a slow, concentrated way on different elements in the music, for example, intonation--it's quite extraordinary. And I had a rehearsal on Rachmaninoff's The Bells with them where I moved at too fast a pace, which resulted in frustration (and not faster results). We need to think of this in our rehearsals: rushing (and not really mastering a passage in the music) rarely accomplishes much and may in fact build in bad habits or mistakes. But it also means we have to build up the ability of our singers (at different levels, of course) to focus, concentrate, and do the patient work necessary to succeed in difficult music. This is perhaps even more true today with all the distractions (cell phones, instant messaging, Facebook, etc.) of the modern world.

Lots to think about, but this is certainly a book that's worthwhile!
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 you are traveling to, or be denied boarding in the U.S. even if your passport is valid. This particular rule primarily applies to the Schengen group of countries (26 Scandinavian and European Countries...basically all the European countries you were planning on going to this year). You might even be prevented from boarding a plane when traveling through one of these countries if you have to make a transfer and they have to recheck your passport.
So this totally changes how we account for the passports of those traveling with us. Before it was "do you have a valid passport that doesn't expire before we leave." Now we need to double check exaclty when the expiration date is, and we need be sure that everyone's passport is valid for a least six months prior to arrival in one of these countries. How awful would it be for one of your singers to be turned away at the gate, even though they had a passport that expired in two months.
Granted, the official rules for the Schengen Area is that you need three months left on your passport, but the U.S. State Department is taking a "better safe than sorry" approach. I think that is wise, and I will be adopting this rule for my choir. I think there is a chance that many of your tour companies are not aware of this change, so be sure to ask them about it.

If, like me, you have experienced the benefits of including contemporary a cappella in your choral program, I invite you to attend a new, transformative event—the first annual National A Cappella Convention April 24-25 in Memphis, TN.  Featuring the godfather of a cappella himself, Deke Sharon, as head clinician and master of ceremonies, NACC features professional concerts, showcase performances, group masterclasses, reading sessions, director roundtable discussions, industry exhibitions, and a unique, educationally focused high school competition.   


So what could NACC do for you as a director?

  1. Individualized director-specific learning track with focused classes.

  2. Reading sessions featuring new and exciting arrangements from the best in the business.

  3. Roundtable discussions wherein you can interact with and learn from the most experienced and successful a cappella educators in the country.

  4. Industry exhibits providing a way for you to interface with a cappella arrangers, producers, live sound engineers, and more.

  5. Over 10 concert performances from the finest high school, collegiate, CAL, and professional ensembles around (maybe including your own!).


Why should you also bring your group with you?

  1. Every group that attends will receive a free, 50-minute masterclass with one of the top a cappella clinicians in the country.   A few lucky groups will get Deke Sharon himself!

  2. While you are in classes, so are your students, in their own performer-focused individual learning track.

  3. Apply to perform, and you could have the chance to present a 25-mintue concert set in a brand new, state-of-the-art performing arts center.

  4. Apply to compete in the high school competition, and you could win a fully produced album from The Vocal Company, our presenting sponsor (a $10,000 value).

  5. Experience the mind-blowing musicality of Musae, our professional showcase performers.


NACC is being presented in cooperation with The American Choral Directors Association


Learn more at

This is truly a unique and transformative weekend that will take you and your students to the next level of aca-awesome.  Join us in Memphis, April 24-25.
(Each week we look at one or two of the best choral works posted in the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet.  This is where we store a treasure trove of works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear.)
They that sow in tears by M. Susan Brown for SATB divisi a cappella (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: High School Advanced
Uses: Concert or Funeral
Program Themes: Consolation, Joy, Grief
This Piece Would Program Well With: Precious Lord, Take My Hand arr. Ringwald available from JWPepper and Sheet Music Plus
In just two verses of Psalm 126 M. Susan Brown invokes strong emotions in this powerful work.  They that sow in tears would comfort those in grief or delight a concert audience.  There is a lot of repetition which adds to its usefulness as a meditation.  A returning rhythmic motif alternating eighth note triplets and quarter note triplets ties the work together.  I give this piece my highest recommendation. 
They that sow in tears is available from the composer’s website:
Welcome back, everyone! The new year is beginning for most of us, whether school, church, community, or professional choir, and it's time for auditions  (for some!) and getting ready for first rehearsals. It's an exciting time!
I'll begin the year with a series on books I think are worthwhile. Not all will be for everyone (that's impossible), but I hope you'll find some worth exploring. Posts will alternate between books written for musicians/conductors/about choral topics and those written for a non-musical audience, but offering something to us as conductors and teachers.
I'm going to begin with a book that deals with an important topic--that of classroom management: Classroom Management in the Music Room -- "Pin-Drop Quiet" Classes and Rehearsals, by David Newell.
We all know that no matter how good a musician we are, no matter how well we know our scores, if we can't teach our choirs how to rehearse well, how to focus, how to make the rehearsal room a productive place--we won't accomplish as much as we could.
David Newell's book has a well-thought-out and disciplined approach (requiring discipline from you as well as your students), stressing a minimum of rules or expectations with only two options: the singer is either in the "rules" box or the "consequences" box. Newell is a band director, but all of his ideas can be adapted for choirs. He's writing for the secondary level, but these are universal approaches which can be adapted to children's choirs, adult choirs, non-auditioned choirs or high-level choirs.
He stresses quiet, calm, unemotional discipline techniques and consistency--and that gradually classroom management techniques have to move towards musical skills and rehearsals that will minimize management problems. In other words, the kind of rehearsals we'd all like to have!
Here's an outline from a clinic he gave which will give you a better idea--but believe me, the book is much, much better! If your choirs don't yet have the rehearsal discipline you'd like them to have or if you teach future teachers/conductors . . . it's well worth the investment!
Have a great year!
P.S. By the way, if you missed it, my last series of the year was about learning from the great Swedish conductor, Eric Ericson. You can find the summary and links to the various posts here.
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 a few nice easy weekends from here on out, and that you are super excited about your repertoire, and that you have enough T1s, B2s, and A2s to make that divisi happen, and that some random rock star who nails the sight reading walks into auditions and blows you away...
I'm excited about this year's blogging. I have some longer form ideas I'm kicking around, and a big project that I think will interest a lot of directors out there. I'm really excitied about this new project, and I think it will have some relevance for the entire choral community, and I hope it will be interesting to a lot of you. I'm not going to say much more about it now, because I am still in the planning stages, but be looking for some posts coming in the near future about it.
I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes about the nature of persistence and hard work. Time to buckle down and start making things happen!
"When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before." - Jacob August Riis
THE NOVELTY CONCERT by Dianna Campbell
I often refer to myself as a classicist… I love classical music and classic rock.  At my wedding twenty-five years ago I played Bach and Led Zeppelin (Thank you). Each year at the college, I end our season with a “novelty’ concert. I have programmed an all-Beatles concert,”Night at the Movies” (complete with popcorn and soda), “TV Tunes” (with commercials and game shows), “Fun in the Sun” (all audience members received a lei at the door) to name a few. But I avoided classic rock because I didn’t think it could be done authentically on a choral stage. Well this spring, with the help of some really good arrangements, we did “Rock the Night Away”(and gave glow sticks in place of the old lighters). The audience, performers, my administration and I absolutely loved it! Here are a few things I’ve learned about presenting a successful  ‘novelty’ concert:
  • Keep musical standards (dynamics, phrasing, diction, etc…)
  • Pick music YOU love
  • Change ‘tutti’ to ‘solo’ to get a quick fix to a problem or spotlight a great singer
  • Add visual effects – multi-media approach
  • Have fun!
  • Perform with only piano. ( For “Rock” use bass, drums, guitar, keyboard and steel drum for “Fun in the Sun”)
  • Perform on standard choral risers. Use platforms and create visual interest
  • Perform in choral uniforms. (Wear black-on-black for “Rock”, Hawaiian shirts for “Fun in the Sun”)
  • Stand still. You gotta’ move and groove to the beat!
  • Start the year with this type of show. Treat it like the dessert at the end of the mealJ
  • Apologize for doing it! *These same students performed Haydn’s The Creation in the fall.*
I received a wonderful "tweet" from Homar Sánchez Díaz, who was bragging on the Virtual Choir video that he and his students created. I thought it was very impressive - see what you think:
This project was made by students, age 13-15.
A few Facts & Numbers:
-30 artists -200 film takes
-12 video hours recorded -900 minutes of audio recorded
200 sound takes 
150Gb of files and data
-12000 views in the first month 
Look here for a lot more information.
(Each week we look at one or two of the best choral works posted in the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet.  This is where we store a treasure trove of works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear.)
You Stand Above Time by Julie Myers and Charles McCartha for SATB and piano (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: High School Intermediate
Uses: Fall, Harvest
Program Themes: Harvest, Wheat, Water, Baptism
This Piece Would Program Well With: Gift of Finest Wheat by Dan Schutte available from OCP
Is your church choir starting and you don’t know what to do first?  You Stand Above Time is an excellent welcome back for your choir.  They will love the catchy refrain and enjoy the harvest theme.   This is a great piece to have in the general performance arsenal with a text particularly suited to the second Sunday of Advent. 
Julie Myers is a regular contributor to the Composers of Choral Music community.  Did you know lyricists could be members? Join us here:
Whether you work with elementary singers or graduate students, conduct community voices or professional, ChorTeach has something of value for YOU.  
The latest issue of ACDA's on-line magazine, ChorTeach, is now available.  The Summer 2014 issue of ChorTeach includes:
Except for a very few holdouts, the academic year is over.  Time for a little rest and rejuvenation.  A change of scenery is in order, as is some time for reflection.  Here, then, is a little something to ponder from your hammock.  The following is by Kevin Peter Hand, a planetary scientist/astrobiologist in Pasadena, California and a 2011 National Geographic Emerging Explorer:
The drumbeat of human civilization is the pursuit of new knowledge. We explore, we discover, and we advance. From fundamental research on cancer to revolutionizing our understanding of the universe, it is not an either/or: we must do it all. Anything less is a sign that our priorities as a race have been hijacked by agendas beneath our potential. As has become a refrain in my community, the drumbeat continues and we echo the wise words of Teddy Roosevelt: Dare mighty things.
What will YOU dare to advance the choral art next season?