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Items by Richard Sparks

Results: 189
Title Author Date
ChoralBlog: Improving Skills 3
From Daniel Coyle’s The Little Book of Talent: Tip #5 - Be willing to be stupid.   The point, of course, isn’t to be stupid, but to be willing to fail, to take risks. Coyle uses the example of Wayne Gretzky falling in practice and says, “As skilled as he was, Gretzky was determined to impro...
ChoralBlog: Improving Skills 2
Daniel Coyle's The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills Tip #3 is, "Steal without apology." This is something I've long believed—it's one of the best ways to acquire new skills. When you see a fine conductor do something—gesture, rehearsal techni...
Comment: Re: How to Win a Nobel Prize
Great post, Josh. I love Cal Newport's blog--and his book, How to Become a Straight-A Student is one of the best guides I've seen. If anyone has a child in college/university, it'd be a great gift!
Comment: Re: Improving Skills I
Thanks, Edward. The "unity of opposites" is a nice concept! Do send instances!
ChoralBlog: Improving Skills I
This next blog series revolves around several books and their perspectives on increasing our skills. Those skills can range from conducting technique to rehearsal technique to score study, if we think of our own skills as conductors. It can also mean the skills we teach our singers, which are equall...
ChoralBlog: Books Worth Reading IX
One more book before I go in a new direction: Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life.   I'm fascinated by creative people in other arts than music. Since I'm married to a visual artist (who loves music, luckily), I often get cross-pollination of ideas from another viewpoin...
ChoralBlog: Books Worth the Time VIII
I think the best of the books about John Wooden's teaching (which really was the bulk of his approach to coaching) is You Haven't Taught Until They Have Learned, by Swen Nater (one of Wooden's players at UCLA) and Ronald Gallimore (a psychologist whose research was in teaching, and who w...
ChoralBlog: Books Worth Your Time VII
For this blog series I started out with the idea of alternating books on music with books on other subjects. But I've realized that most of the great music books are fairly well known or are are so specific that they might have limited interest (maybe I'll combine some in a post later). &...
ChoralBlog: Books Worth Your Time VI
How do we, given the enormous number of things we do in our jobs as conductors, keep sane and healthy? How can we deal better with stress?   Are there ways for us to do what we do with joy, full energy, and full engagement?   This week's title is The Power of Full Engagemen...
Comment: Re: Leadership and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Fantastic find, Josh! I put it on FB as well (giving you credit for finding it, of course!). It's great.
ChoralBlog: Books Worth Your Time V
Sorry for the late posting! Crazy day/week!   My next recommendation is a book by Doug Lemov, who you may know from the book Teach Like a Champion or its follow-up, Teach Like a Champion Field Guide. Both are terrific, all about better ways to teach. I recommend them, too!   Bu...
ChoralBlog: Interrupting our current program . . . (Eric Ericson)
I finally found my copy of Ron Jeffers' notes from attending a workshop with Eric Ericson. These are so good and illustrate many aspects of Eric's art, so I thought it worthwhile to interrupt my current blog series on worthwhile reading to give this. As the pdf states, it's from a worksh...
Comment: Re: Books Worth Your Time II
Thanks to both of you for the comment!    
ChoralBlog: Books Worth Your Time III
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 (cal...
ChoralBlog: Books Worth Your Time II
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 discipli...
ChoralBlog: Books worth your time I
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...
Comment: Re: Learning from Eric Ericson IX - Wrap-up
Thanks, Amanda. This one was a pleasure to do!
ChoralBlog: Learning from Eric Ericson IX - Wrap-up
Eric Ericson is one of the giants of our field and his work has been a model for many others: in his enthusiasm for performing and commissioning new music, in raising standards in a cappella singing, as a teacher, and as a conductor. His ensembles (Chamber Choir, Swedish Radio Choir, and Orphe...
ChoralBlog: Learning from Eric Ericson VIII - Stefan Parkman
Stefan Parkman has had a long association with Eric. Born in 1952, he first studied medicine, but began singing with Eric in Orphei Drängar in the early '70s. Just a few years later he began his studies in the Royal College of Music. Stefan's an exceptionally fine tenor (listen here or ...
ChoralBlog: Learning from Eric Ericson VII - Arne Lundmark
Arne Lundmark is the manager for the Swedish Radio Choir, a fine singer, and voice teacher. He's the baritone soloist on a recording of Sven-David Sandström's Etyd, som e-moll (if you get a chance, listen to it--gorgeous!). I was able to write Arne and ask about his experiences with Eri...
Comment: Re: Learning from Eric Ericson VI - watch!
Thanks, Stanley. Yes, it's a lovely video. I'm hoping at some point I can find and make available more video of Eric conducting and rehearsing. We'll see!
ChoralBlog: Learning from Eric Ericson VI - watch!
There aren't many examples of Eric conducting on the net, but here's one with him recording with the Real Group (all the original singers sang as students with him--when he came to Pacific Lutheran University in the mid-80s with his Conservatory Chamber Choir they'd been working together for a while...
ChoralBlog: Learning from Eric Ericson V - Conducting Technique II
This continues my notes from several sessions on conducting by Eric Ericson done for the Haystack Workshop in Oregon.   Ericson - Day 2 1) “caress” the air as if through water, then make attacks (not in a pattern) gradually more marked , then back to caressing motion - ch...
ChoralBlog: Learning from Eric Ericson IV - Conducting Technique I
NOTES FROM ERIC ERICSON'S CONDUCTING SESSIONS AT HAYSTACK , 1986   These notes are from several sessions (hence I've abbreviated in some places) that Eric Ericson did on basic conducting technique. This took place at the Haystack Workshop in Astoria, Oregon. I was singing in t...
ChoralBlog: Learning from Eric Ericson III - Robert Sund
As you read the thoughts of various musicians who worked with Eric, you’ll discover commonalities—which is only natural—but each from a slightly different perspective.   For me, one of the best things about doing this series is giving me the excuse to get in touch with...
Comment: Re: Retirement
This is always a difficult decision (for the person in question) and also tough to handle as a conductor. I haven't had to deal with it often, but it's a challenge. David Willcocks said in one of his books that when he took over the Bach Choir in London it was full of people whose skills had eroded ...
Concert: UNT Collegium Singers, Richard Sparks, cond.
Join the University of North Texas Collegium Singers and Baroque Orchestra Wednesday, April 9 at 8 PM for their final concert of the year.   The Collegium Singers will sing Kuhnau's 'Tristis est anima mea' (conducted by Kerry Glann, with choir, organ, and 3 sackbuts), Schelle's absolutely beautif...
ChoralBlog: Learning from Eric Ericson - II - Eva Wedin
Eva Wedin is our guest-blogger this week. Eva began singing with Eric as a student at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm (1973-78). She sang as an alto in the Radio Choir from 1979-2012, when she "retired" . . . and still occasionally subs with the choir (imagine all the music she'...
ChoralBlog: Learning from Eric Ericson - I
Eric Ericson (1918-2013) was one of the major choral conductors of the last century. His work was influential for many of us and the standards he set with his own Chamber Choir, with the Swedish Radio Choir, along with the men's chorus Orphei Drängar, raised standards around the world. The ...
Announcement: Allan Bevan - Nou goth sonne under wode - Sparks, UNT
The UNT University Singrers and Concert Orchestra performance of Allan Bevan's Nou goth sonne under wode from a recent concert is now on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoCT-ES_t2o&feature=share   This is a terrific piece, premiered by Richard Sparks (who conducts this performance)...
ChoralBlog: The Young Conductor X - leadership 2
My last post introduced the importance of leadership (or the ability to lead) to be a successful conductor. Most of us learn much of what we know about leadership from our own conductors/mentors/models. This is one of the most important ways we learn.   But one can be more systematic and explore ...
ChoralBlog: The Young Conductor IX - leadership 1
As I mentioned earlier in this series, it's rare that there's a place in any undergraduate music education curriculum, or even MM or DMA curricula in choral conducting on the topic of leadership. This is one of those things that's incredibly important, but rarely taught directly. It may ...
ChoralBlog: The Young Conductor VIII - gaining experience 3
More about starting your own group to gain experience (since we learn by doing!):   First, I would check out Chorus America. It's an organization dedicated to the independent chorus--one that has its own board, leadership, etc., rather than being attached to an institution (church, sc...
Comment: Re: Favorite extended choral work?
Allan Bevan's Nou goth sonne under wode is a wonderful Good Friday/crucifixion meditation, very expressive. http://www.allanbevan.ca/   I just performed it at UNT (literally tonight!), where I teach. If all goes well, we may be able to put it on YouTube -- it's a wonderful piece for narrator, sop...
Concert: UNT U Singers, Richard Sparks, cond.
The University of North Texas University Singers and Concert Orchestra, under the direction of Richard Sparks, perform Canadian composer Allan Bevan's Nou goth sonne under wode, a 30 minute Good Friday meditation in four movements, Monday, March 3 at 8 PM in the MPAC, UNT. Oneyda Padierna is soprano...
Comment: Re: Richard Sparks Intonation Series
Thanks for putting this together, Jed! I did something like this for the Wooden series, but not for the intonation one.   Yes, I think ChoralBlog needs a good search function that makes it easy to search for a particular blogger's posts or to better search by topic (which would mean we'd have to ...
ChoralBlog: The Young Conductor VII - gaining experience 2
Last time I recommended that the young conductor (even while still an undergraduate) gain experience through conducting a church choir. For the conductor who is a bit more advanced (already teaching, for example, or working in a major church position), working with a community choir or similar ...
Comment: Re: Lars Edlund (1922-2013)
Josh, I also love the music of Lars Edlund (as well as his Modus Novus -- well, perhaps I don't LOVE it, but it's incredibly useful!).   The folksongs (if you're thinking of the set with Femton Finner) are on Naxos on a recording by the Uppsala University Chamber Choir. They're fun!   They're ...
Concert: UNT Collegium Singers - CPE Bach Magnificat
Celebrating the 300th Anniversary of C.P.E. Bach's birth, the University of North Texas Collegium Singers (Richard Sparks, conductor) and Baroque Orchestra (Paul Leenhouts, conductor) do a program of music by CPE and other composers from that era.   Under the direction of Richard Sparks, both gro...
ChoralBlog: The Young Conductor VI - gaining experience
In an earlier post I mentioned getting experience as a conductor. This is one of the big challenges for a young conductor and I’m a believer in making your own opportunities.   The first and best option for most young conductors (even undergraduates) is to find a position as churc...
Comment: Re: The Young Conductor V - rehearsing and the piano
Thanks for your post! I've done rehearsals with and without accompanists. If you've got a good one (and I've been blessed to work with several really wonderful ones) s/he can help and expand what you can do. A less than good one and s/he will slow down your rehearsal.   I think choirs need to ...
ChoralBlog: The Young Conductor V - rehearsing and the piano
One of the critical areas for a young conductor--and this applies to both the undergraduate planning for a career in music education and the graduate conducting  student with a fair amount of experience already—is to develop and then improve rehearsal skills.   I’ve wri...
Comment: Re: The Young Conductor III - learning repertoire
Thanks, Jerome! I absolutely agree and speak to this in the next blog post, coming out Thursday.
ChoralBlog: The Young Conductor IV - becoming a better musician
If you remember my 2nd post in this series, I listed all sorts of things that a conductor must gain in terms of skills and knowledge. For the young conductor (or the experienced one, for that matter), many of the limits to your achievements as a conductor will be your own personal limitations as a m...
Comment: Re: The Young Conductor III - learning repertoire
Len and Stanley, thanks to you both for your contribution! The stories of kindnesses from fellow colleagues are amazing. And thanks for the resource, Stan.
Comment: Re: reference for Handel's Dixit Dominus
Can you say what you mean by that? Do you mean references to the work's history? Recordings? Different editions? I've conducted it several times, most recently in a performance which is on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jz4ZVusFsTo
ChoralBlog: The Young Conductor III - learning repertoire
Learning repertoire is another life-long (and fascinating) part of being a conductor.   For the beginning conductor it seems a daunting task, so first know that it's never-ending. Don't worry that you don't yet know enough, just get started.   First, of course, you&...
Comment: Re: The Young Conductor II - what does a conductor need to know?
Kenneth,   Thanks for the link! You have excellent things to add. I always have loved Brock McElheran's statement in his book about conducting (I'm paraphrasing here, don't have the book in front of me): "It does no good to memorize long lists of baroque ornaments if no one wants to play or sing ...
ChoralBlog: The Young Conductor II - what does a conductor need to know?
When I taught beginning conducting (which I did for 18 years at Pacific Lutheran University), I'd begin by asking the class to tell me what the conductor did. What did she need to know? What skills are necessary? What roles does the conductor play? What's important to become a very good cond...
ChoralBlog: The Young Conductor I - Introduction
Welcome back! I hope you all had a good break. It's time for a new series, this time thoughts on the preparation for the young conductor. This could mean an undergraduate planning on a career in music education, or it could mean a young conductor, teacher, or graduate student who's started h...