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The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

Finding our way

 The ACDA leadership met this past weekend and had a tremendous time of discussion, brainstorming, envisioning, and planning.
Pictured here is our Executive Director Tim Sharp who is standing in front of a list of concerns the leadership had about our organization - identifying our problems was an important part of planning who we were going to be in the future.
We came out of the meeting with some clear ideas about going forward.  Hugh Ballou did a great job in helping us find a structured way to deal with the things that were important to us.
If you are a part of ACDA, I encourage you to get more involved.  There is much to be done to advance our art.  It is possible that there are some of you that aren't involved or that you enjoy the benefits of ChoralNet as a non-ACDA member.  Come on, gang!  Get more involved!
on June 11, 2012 6:15am
It's much easier to "get more involved" when folks are aware of exactly what the issues are and how they could offer some creative suggestions/solutions, or even provide boots-on-the-ground assistance.  There is a terrific amount of brain power out there in the membership, and also in those who are not yet members, that could be very helpful--if people know what is wanted/needed, and also know exactly how to provide it.
So, I suggest that if the leadership powers-that-be are truly serious about folks getting more involved (beyond the usual questionnaire-answering stuff), it would be helpful if:
1.  A list of all of the current unresolved problems/concerns/issues were provided, in order of priority.
2.  A clear, easy method of suggesting ideas and solutions were outlined, for ongoing use as ideas are generated.
3.  Some method of feedback were developed to thank folks who actually do get involved, so they will receive a bit of appreciation for time and mental energy spent.
4.  An acknowledgement of someone's idea that actually gets used is publicly announced somewhere--unless the person who offered the idea wishes to remain anonymous.  
Want folks to get more involved?  Tell us WHAT is needed, HOW we can provide it, and then THANK US for doing so.
Now, if this is NOT what you meant by "get more involved," please tell us what you did mean.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on June 11, 2012 7:46am
I'm not sure why I read a negative tone in your reply to my blog post.
Anyway, I'd say that getting involved means at least this:
1.  Make sure you are an official member of ACDA.  Are your dues paid?
2.  Attend the state, regional, and national events of ACDA.  
3.  Reach out to choral directors who are not currently involved in ACDA, invite them to be a member or maybe pay their membership fee.
4.  Become a volunteer in your state organization at the next conference.  There is much to do in organization and facilitation of each event.
There are several issues that came out of our meeting this past weekend.  One was "mentoring."  Another was representing the diversity of the USA in the membership of ACDA.  Can you work in those areas?
Julia, I volunteer a lot of time and energy to ChoralNet and ACDA.  I don't do it to get appreciation or acclamations from others (athough it is always nice to receive praise).  Whenever I give any time or effort, it is usually acknowledged.  
I would say that we must all give selflessly to advance our choral art and I bet you agree with me.  Maybe you or your efforts have not been appreciated in the past but I know for certain that the attitude of the executive director and national leadership is one of gratitude and appreciation towards the membership.
on June 11, 2012 8:25am
I did not mean to communicate a negative tone in my reply to your blog, merely an emphatic one.  I apologize if it came across as negative.  After so many years working in the nonprofit world in various capacities, one very important thing I learned was that when any organization asks people to "get more involved" the only time that people actually DO get more involved is if they know exactly what the needs and wants are, exactly how to go about trying to help meet those needs and wants, and also know that they will receive at least some small acknowledgment for those efforts.
Your reply helped clarify what you meant by "get more involved"; thank you.  And I would venture to say that you are a rare bird in that you can give selflessly of yourself and don't need much in the way of acknowledgment or praise for your efforts; unfortunately most mere mortals are not in your league, although I agree with you that they should be!   
Applauded by an audience of 2
on June 11, 2012 9:18am
All these suggestions are really ACDA-centric: join ACDA, come to ACDA events, volunteer as ACDA officials.
Surely there was something discussed about advancing the choral art. As we all know from our local organizations, it's easier to recruit volunteers if they feel they're part of a larger cause. People won't volunteer because they want ACDA to thrive; they'll volunteer because they want choral music to thrive.
on June 11, 2012 7:48am
I thought of something else:
The national leadership pays close attention to the workings of ChoralNet and responses to blogs/questions/initiatives.
Have a problem or a great idea?  Talk about it here - people listen.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on June 11, 2012 8:11am
Hi Philip,
Thank you for your post, and you are exactly right...involvement was the message, and involvement in Dallas was in great evidence by our membership. Our state, region, and national officers and treasurers are dedicated to going back to their home areas and engaging with the ideas and the desires of our members. I encourage everyone to look at the state and division websites for the ACDA chapters, and to find these leaders for engagement. There couldn't be a better time to do so across all of ACDA.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 11, 2012 9:05am
Julia (and everyone) -
Here's a facebook post from yesterday (mine)
"Back from Dallas and 3 days with the National Board and various state pres's, treasurers, and pres-elects. Those of you who are "just" members of ACDA (thanks for being a member btw), know that although serving takes time, and energy, sometimes feeling a bit thankless - you will get back as much or more than you give if you do serve on a state, divisional or the national board.  Thanks for a meeting of re-invigoration, fellow ACDA board members!"
I see from your profile that you're from Washington, which I assume is the state of . . .
If you are ok with it, I will pass your comments on to Lori Wiest and Tim Fitzpatrick, who are Pres and Pres elect of WA.  Let me know with a response
Will you be attending the WA summer institute?  If so, let me know that also . . .
Pres. elect NW ACDA
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 11, 2012 10:03am
Here are some of our notes from the goals that came from the two days of leadership discussion. You will observe that these are purposefully stated in the present tense, meaning, we ARE going to do this:
ACDA Leadership Planning Session
June 7. 8, 2012
Short-Term Goals
Editorial Advisory Board
The Choral Journal reflects and amplifies a passion for the choral art. Where’s your passion? Finding common ground. What got you here’ What keeps you here? (Multiple respondents)
Central Division
ACDA Central Region’s Pilot Mentors are trained and engaged in the program.
North Central Division
We actively engage with choral musicians of under-served populations in our region, through retreats at state & regional levels. We have conversations with these choral musicians. At these retreats, we learn from then, listen to them, and build ensemble WITH them as choral artists!
SWACDA engenders oneness in artistic music-making through education and mentorship.
Eastern Division
ACDA provides opportunities to engage in music-making, teaching, and conducting that inspires genuine artistry from page to stage.
ACDA Eastern Region equips the emerging conductor/teacher w/the tools necessary to profoundly impact the choral profession.

Research & Publications
ACDA furthers the process of MENTORSHIP though INDENIFYING, EVALUATING, and IMPLEMENTING effective models. ACDA embraces MENTORSHIP as the cornerstone to the future success of choral music.
We have a CLEAR pathway to SUCCESS
Southern Division
Impassioned teaching -> artistry – A CONTINUOUS CIRCLE
Building the mindset of mentorship
Technology Committee
ACDA Tech Comm. Provides digital support for an analog art
ACDA has well-defined channels for official and unofficial 1-to-1 and 1-to-many communications
ACDA Tech Committee actively collects ideas & needs from members and provides guidance & solutions
Choral Blog features “Ask_____” weekly
Northwestern Division
Mentors Motivate Membership

Specific Messages
To all here and not here: You are welcome to the table.
We engaged in an existential exercise to confirm our passion to promote common ground in the choral art, and to feel occasional guilt over what we are not. CJ Board
Create Your Painting…Paint Your Dream – Van Gogh (btw...he wasn't there, just quoted...)
Let others know the wonderful things we do in ACDA.
Provide digital support for an analog art.
Emphasize the importance of student members.
Brought up diversity * acknowledge the need for ACDA to address this complex issues
ACDA’s culture has grown into one of the openness & trust where all voices are heard and respected.
ACDA wants to:
  • Know you
  • Learn from you, &
  • Serve you
Support the membership in sharing goals, processes, and results through technology.
The future of ACDA is built on the shoulders of Giants. We have a history and we have done some things very well.
The mentorship program is one exciting initiative that moves the organization forward with dynamic momentum.
  • Strive to be more inclusive
  • Artistry central theme to ACDA
  • Impassioned teaching
  • Mentorship
ACDA is strengthened through diverse collaboration engaged artistry, and active communications. BE A PART OF THE PROCESS.
Developed a plan to foster artistic excellence, excellence in literature, and greater inclusivity in all conductors through the Central Region pilot mentor program.
We envision a new ACDA as a fluid organization responsive to the needs of all members – current & potential.
External message – Together, across boundaries geographic & otherwise, we collaboratively reevaluated our core goals in order to move forward to be more inclusive and accessible, and to reaffirm our commitment to our membership.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on June 11, 2012 4:03pm
Were there any comments or discussions about how living composers (who are not also choir directors) "fit" into the overall ACDA picture?  Does this fall within the "be more inclusive" and "foster...excellence in literature" goals?  I feel there is much room for improvement in the basic communications and relationships between choir directors and living composers, and also room for much discussion about the potential role(s) the ACDA may choose to play in the quickly-changing music publishing/distribution world where more and more composers are rejecting the traditional model and are choosing the self-publishing route with its attendant issues regarding how to effectively market and distribute one's works, over and above simply trying very hard to compose new choral music that is both appealing and affordable.
Composers and choir directors have a great deal to learn from each other.  How could the ACDA help facilitate the dialogue in perhaps a more structured, ongoing way that is better than the current back-and-forth, hit-or-miss posts in various forums about various issues?
on June 12, 2012 10:42am
I would say that we deal head-on with the composer issue on a daily basis here at ACDA's ChoralNet.  Perhaps there is a more formalized way of doing it in the Choral Journal or at a conference . . . what do you have in mind?
on June 12, 2012 12:25pm
One initial idea for ChoralNet:
Offer (and announce) a new ChoralNet Forum called something like "Director/Composer Conversations" -- where we could ask questions of each other and provide helpful information and opportunities.  For example, I would like to be able to access such a Forum where I could ask, for example, if directors (at least in the U.S.) might prefer "plain English" terms in scores rather than Italian/German/other terms, such as "very lively" rather than "vivace," or "sweetly" rather than "dolce."  Other composers have asked questions (in various Forums) about the usefulness of YouTube videos of their music when directors are searching for new works, what specific kinds of new music directors are looking for, how to develop a working relationship with a choir in one's own locale, how to best price a piece of music if it is self-published, and so on.  An experienced ASCAP composer could explain how ASCAP works, and why it is so important for composers to simply be informed when one of their pieces is performed. 
Directors may wish to send out a broad appeal to composers to create music that would better fit their needs, such as more SAB pieces (the need for more SAB literature was mentioned in a forum some time ago).  Some directors might like to design a kind of e-composer-in-residence program, where a general call could go out to composers, offering the chance to compose something special for a choir in return not for money, but for a guaranteed recorded performance--with the recording provided to the composer for marketing purposes--if the final product meets the director's standards.  Interested composers could respond, and one or more could be chosen to participate--no matter where they live.  Why should composers (especially new ones) only be able to try to work closely with local choirs, and why should choirs only be able to try to work closely with local composers?  In addition, directors may wish to provide information to composers on issues such as things to avoid or focus on when composing for "changing" voices or "older" voices, what kind of budgets they have for new music, ways in which they prefer self-published composers inform them of new music availability, etc.    
All of these issues and many more would be much better placed (and much more widely accessed, I think) in a Forum developed specifically for such back-and-forth communications between choir directors and composers; the current way of trying to converse with each other, by attempting to find a "good-fit" Forum for one's posts, is awkward and scattered, as well as hit-or-miss in terms of user awareness of such posts, although the existing Forums work just fine for other needs.  A specific Forum for this specific purpose, to encourage choir directors and composers to talk with each other, would be very valuable, I think.  It would, however, be important to communicate that this would NOT be a place for self-promotion, and all such posts would be disallowed. 
- - - - - - - - - -
Perhaps you (or someone else) could write a blog sending out a general appeal for ideas from others about how better communications and interactions between choir directors and composers could be facilitated via the Choral Journal or conferences, as well as via ChoralNet.  I'm only a newbie composer and new to the ACDA with little experience of the Choral Journal and no experience of conferences, and I'm sure that much more experienced folks than I would have some good ideas.  Thanks for asking and listening!