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Whether it’s a student, a parent, or an administrator, we all have that individual in our sphere who acts as though the world revolves around them; they have probably been making you crazy all year.  As you head out the door for a well-deserved summer break, watch this.  You’ll feel really small, but it will also put your narcissistic tormentor into perspective.
 
 
FIVE FROM THE FOLDER: MS/JH TENOR-BASS CHOIRS by Nathan Dame
 
1.  “Courage Lives.”  Mark Patterson.  Heritage/Lorenz 15/2089H.
TTB, with piano.  One of my guys’ all-time favorites.  High tessitura and moderately difficult, but the singers “man up” for this one.
 
2.  “Come Travel with Me.”  Scott Farthing.  Walton/Hal Leonard  HL08501432.
TTB, with piano.  A staple for tenor-bass choirs with an animated accompaniment, accessible ranges, and great text.
 
3.  “Rest Not!”  Laura Farnell.  Hal Leonard  HL08552012
TB, with piano.  A well-written piece!  ABA form, easy harmonies, and guys ask when they can sing it again!
 
4.  “Shoshone Love Song (The Heart’s Friend).”  Roger Emerson.  Hal Leonard HL 08740097
TBB, with piano.  Beautifully crafted piece; easy TBB harmonies and several unison lines; accompaniment doubles vocal lines throughout.
 
5.  “Great Gettin’ Up Mornin’ (with Do Lord).”  Donald Moore.  Heritage/Lorenz 15/1716H.
TTB, a cappella.  Syncopated, high energy, and all three parts alternate having the melody.  Guys love the optional snaps!
 
(“Five from the Folder” provides brief, text-length reviews of vocal works currently in the folders of choral directors throughout the United States.  To share five from your folder, contact Scott Dorsey at dorsey@acda.org)
(An excerpt from the Choral Journal article, “Standards of Choral Music,” by Elwood Keister)
 
       Speaking from a singer's viewpoint, Lloyd F. Sunderman of the University of Toledo, Ohio, deplored the negative effects of popular singing whereby a personality and an assumed "style" creates false impressions of singing and negates a solid vocal foundation and artistic expression. Since the inception of MENC in 1907 to provide the burden of inspiration and leadership for choral directors, there are gradual signs of improvement: the excellent choirs throughout the country whose travels and interchange of concerts provide new avenues of exchange, the great advance of the publishing industry in the past 15 years, the use of TV and radio for such performances as the schola Cantorum’s presentation of the Bach "Magnificat" last Christmas, the growth of District, State and National choral festivals and the use of Hi-Fi and TV in both home and school.
       Despite some good vocal training and good choral conducting and singing, there still exists a great lack of basic knowledge of the voice and its treatment. The teacher shortage caused by the single salary schedule has brought in too many vocal "baby sitters", the' overcrowded schools, the pressure for college preparation and overemphasis of other "solid" subjects, the problem of education minus musicianship, the false conception that music education and music are one and the same, all of these have conspired to bring about much mediocre and poor quality work.
 
READ the entire article.
 
The academic year is – thankfully – drawing to a close; for some fortunate folks 2014-15 is already in the history books.  The next few weeks will provide a welcome change of pace and a respite from the daily grind.
 
Before you lose yourself to travel, summer employment, or a well-deserved collapse, may we suggest one more assignment?  Take a brief look backward to assess your rehearsal performance with this casual little quiz.
 
Be honest, kids (if you can’t be honest with and about yourself, well, we can’t help you).
 
 
                    ===================================
                              2014-15 REHEARSAL PERFORMANCE QUIZ
                    ===================================
 
[1] What year-long goals did you set for the choir at the beginning of the academic year?
 
[2] Based on item [1], give a grade reflecting the accomplishment of each those goals.
 
[3] In what ways did the choir exceed your expectations?
 
[4] In what ways did you let the choir down?
 
[5] How often did you BEGIN rehearsals on time?  (One second late is still late.)
 
     ___ 90%-100%     ___ 80%-89%     ___ 70%-79%     ___ Below 70%
 
[6] How often did you END rehearsals on time? (One second late is still late.)
 
     ___ 90%-100%     ___ 80%-89%     ___ 70%-79%     ___ Below 70%
 
[7] How frequently did you write a bona fide rehearsal plan?
 
     ___ 90%-100%     ___ 80%-89%     ___ 70%-79%     ___ Below 70%
 
[8] How many times did you lose your temper in rehearsal?
 
     ___ 0-2     ___ 3-5     ___ 6-8     ___ 9-10     ___ More than 10 times
 
[9] What do you know now about the choir that you didn’t know on September 1, 2014?
 
[10] Are you being completely honest with yourself in this quiz?
 
     ___ Yes     ___ No
 
[11] If your conducting mentor could watch unedited video of your entire year of rehearsals, what would she/he say about your work?
 
[12] How frequently did you do warm-ups before working on repertoire?
 
     ___ 90%-100%     ___ 80%-89%     ___ 70%-79%     ___ Below 70%
 
[13] Does the choir sound better than they did at the end of LAST season?  If so, how?
 
[14] How frequently did you incorporate sight-singing exercises in the rehearsal?
 
     ___ 90%-100%     ___ 80%-89%     ___ 70%-79%     ___ Below 70%
 
[15] Are members of the choir individually better musicians than they were at the end of LAST season?
There are those who despise our military, but the fact remains that the sacrifices of those who have fallen in service to our country provided the freedoms we enjoy.
 
 
Much to our delight, the Choral Music Baseball Card series has been – pun intended – a big hit!
 
As a result, we plan to spend some time during the summer developing a couple dozen more cards, and we’d like a little input from the stands.
 
If there is a significant composer that you would like to see highlighted in the Choral Music Baseball Card series, please let us know.  Contact Scott Dorsey directly at dorsey@acda.org.
 
PLAY BALL!
FIVE FROM THE FOLDER: HIGH SCHOOL WOMEN’S CHOIR by Joel Karn
 
1. “Sing Creations Music On,” Stephen Paulus, Paulus Publications SP385
Very challenging rhythmically.  Vocally demanding piece.
 
2. “Abschiedslied der Zugvogel,” Felix Mendelssohn, National/NMP288
Beautiful melodic lines that can be used for developing a desired tone throughout the women’s vocal range.
 
3. “Oh, Had I Jubal’s Lyre,” G.F. Handel/arr. Robert Gibb, Gentry JG-3001
Normally a solo, this SSA arrangement stays true to the style.  Great for developing skill in singing sixteenth note melismatic passages.
 
4. “Tota Pulchra Es” Maurice Durufle, Durand D&F13901
Lots of meter changes.  Beautiful setting of the text.  Challenging but accessible for advanced high school women’s choir.
 
5. “Music Down in My Soul,” Moses Hogan, Hal Leonard 08743329
Very fun spiritual, great accompaniment.
 
(“Five from the Folder” provides brief, text-length reviews of vocal works currently in the folders of choral directors throughout the United States.  To share five from your folder, contact Scott Dorsey at dorsey@acda.org)
(An excerpt from the Choral Journal article, “The Changing Concept of Desirable Tone Quality in Samoan Choral Singing,” by Robert Engle)
 
       Prominent among Pacific Island cultural groups is the traditional Samoan choir. Singing is a universal activity in Samoa. In addition to the functions which parallel the use of music in American life, singing is utilized during sa (evening family devotions), as a source of fundraising in the villages (in a manner similar to the English and American Christmas caroling tradition), in lieu of cheerleading at cricket and rugby games, as a focus of competition in inter-village festivals, as live or taped background music on the bus, and in informal concerts at the marketplace. At home, at a party, or in the park, vocal music is often spontaneous and meant for self-enjoyment.
       Singing in Samoan culture has enjoyed far more prominence than instrumental music throughout its history. Participation is universal, regardless of ability or inherited skill. Samoans believe the musical aptitude of all children is equal at birth and that superior ability can be linked to superior intelligence. Singing satisfies an important social objective for Samoans, and the group nature of this activity contributes to that end. A social commentator at the turn of the century observed:
“Solo singing does not attract (the Pacific islander) at all;
music is above all things a social function, in his opinion,
and if he can get a few others (or better still, a few score
others) to sit down with him on the ground and begin a
chorus, he is happy for hours and so are they.”
 
READ the entire article.
(An excerpt from the interest session “Brain-Friendly Strategies for Singer-Friendly Rehearsals,” presented by Charlene Archibeque & Debbie Glaze during the 2015 ACDA National Conference.)
 
       The Brain loves and makes connections through variety and novelty.  Synapses fire and connections are made through new experiences and focused awareness.  The creative choral director must do everything in his/her power to constantly involve the singers in ever-new experiences within the choral rehearsal.  Same old—same old doesn’t cut it.  Use different warm-ups and create new physical movements to go with them.  Movement internalizes deeper learning and involves more areas of the brain. When the choir needs to change a vowel, a tone color, a dynamic, an accent, instead of telling them, use a gesture that heightens the change and will provide a cue you can use in future rehearsals and in concert as a reminder.  Clever rehearsalists know to move the singers around often during a rehearsal.  Never let a choir sit or stand for long periods of time, but constantly alternate sitting and standing.  The brain works better in standing position and the body uses the pelvic tilt when standing so reserve sitting for instructions or silent work. The brain is strengthened by any kinesthetic connection. Have sections rehearse in circles, circles within circles;  walk in rhythm and sing, bend knees on accents, step forward and back, sway in rhythm, tap on thighs;  use hands and arms to shape phrases, raise pitch, spin tone, etc.
       Work in short time intervals:  change songs every seven to 10 minutes, work on short portions of a song, then return to difficult section later in rehearsal; work in musicianship training in small segments; give silent time to process learning, memorize, correct mistakes and audiate. Emotional hooks are essential for deeper learning.  Talk about beauty, textual meanings, life experiences, personal connections to each other and to the music.  Let them know the value of what they are doing!  Musical experiences increase the workings of the brain, especially the challenging ones.
       Above all, keep conductor’s comments short, make sure everyone is totally engaged throughout the rehearsal whether singing, humming, moving, marking.  Do not let one section sit doing nothing while working with another section.  Without MEMORY, THERE IS NO LEARNING:  design rehearsals to create deep procedural and long-term memories. 
 
(Make plans now to attend your 2016 ACDA Divisional Conference!)
(An excerpt from the poster session “Stylistic Development and Hybrid Genres in Chinese Choral Music,” presented by John Winzenburg, during the 2015 ACDA National Conference.)
 
       Chinese choral music is a meeting point of regional, national, and international forms interacting over the course of the twentieth century. The choral repertoire has developed along three main styles: 1) Chinese folk tunes set to Western Classical-Romantic musical language; 2) works with heightened emphasis on Chinese folk styles and Western/Soviet Romantic influences; and 3) expanded regional, vocal and musical styles. These styles generally correspond to major points in modern Chinese history.
       Before 1949, composers typically set Chinese folk or composed tunes as accompanied works with Chinese texts to Western tonal harmony with moderate chromaticism in the manner of Classical-Romantic music.  From the late 1940s, folk materials became central: triads were built of melodic pitches from the pentatonic scale, but they did not as strictly adhere to functional patterns.  Folksongs remained a major foundation, but vocal lines were more reflective of regional traditions, and more unaccompanied works appeared. Still, many compositions tended toward later Romantic harmonies and employed texts with strengthened nationalistic elements capturing an imaginary Chinese ‘essence’ from the countryside or history. From the late 1970s, works have been more frequently performed in regional dialects or minority styles, employ greater varieties of Chinese-Western, folk-classical-popular and traditional-experimental languages.
       The recent, rapid growth of Chinese choral activity is marked by hybridized Chinese-Western vocal delivery. Many Mainland Chinese choirs perform folk arrangements with a heavily ‘nasalized’ tone or local timbre, using scores with numbered notation instead of Western staff notation. But Chinese choirs everywhere increasingly embrace the bel canto aesthetic, with only an imaginary sense of older Chinese folk or regional timbres.
 
(Make plans now to attend your 2016 ACDA Divisional Conference!)
Impersonations are just plain fun.  Kevin Specey and Jimmy Fallon are particularly adept at this form of comedy; with Mr. Spacey’s Johnny Carson being spot-on. (Given that the 2016 political season is upon us - gag! - we’ll probably be hearing a lot of impersonations of those in or seeking office.)