GUEST BLOG: "Life-Long Singing: An ACDA Priority" by Tim Sharp
Date: June 27, 2013
LIFE-LONG SINGING: AN ACDA PRIORITY by Tim Sharp
Of the many areas of interest that overlap the attention of choral directors, lifelong singing opportunities is a topic that unites and captures all of us. Knowing that singing can be enjoyed at many levels, throughout all stages of life, motivates our profession, and keeps us searching and learning. This is true of our membership, and is absolutely reflected in the visioning, planning, and working of ACDA.
Lifelong singing experiences and opportunities emerged as a major theme in the work that resulted from our strategic planning over the last two years. While much of our choral energy throughout the years has been focused on choral music making in and through traditional institutions, as we think about singing throughout life, there are new frontiers for us to engage that will require new approaches.
One of my ongoing initiatives has been to assist our membership in creating opportunities that would make the choral experience available to all children. Two important steps toward this early singing experience initiative have begun. The first is thinking and planning currently underway by two of our Repertoire and Standards Committee children’s and youth areas toward criteria to help seed and support new and existing children’s choir efforts. The simultaneous second step is the effort toward the creation of ongoing, sustainable funding sources to support new and existing children’s choir efforts. As these tools and resources solidify in the coming year, we will move closer to helping the front end of the lifelong singing journey, and one that is not necessarily fulfilled through traditional institutions.
Thanks to the thinking and work of our children and youth Repertoire and Standards leadership, I now have language for a Project: Youth Ascend initiative that will move us closer to seeding projects for new children’s choral work. More work will be done on this initiative toward the development of criteria for funding, but for now, here is the language that has been created for this future effort:
Working toward the mission of the American Choral Directors Association, which includes inspiring excellence in choral music through education, an initiative Project: Youth Ascend, will fund programs that empower more children and youth to sing. Funded projects will identify new ways to attract singers and serve new populations. Programs must be new projects, not existing ones, reaching children who may not experience choral music otherwise. Programs may reach underserved populations or may find new ways to attract and engage young people to experience choral artistry and community.
At the other end of the continuum lies a new lifelong singing challenge for our work. This is the creation and expansion of singing opportunities for senior adults. We are very aware of the great numbers of individuals moving into their mature and senior adult years, and there is strong evidence to support the idea that new choral experiences and opportunities are needed for older singers. The needs on this other end of the lifelong singing continuum are unique to older singers, and will present new challenges to our approaches and processes. Once again, traditional methods and traditional institutions may not be the natural point of departure for this rapidly growing choral area.
Our work with older singers is beginning to take shape as we think through pedagogical issues, literature, and other unique methods and approaches that are tailored for older and aging singers. I am encouraged that the conversation is taking place throughout our association, and articles, workshops and interest sessions are emerging to address this choral singing opportunity and challenge.
Together we will approach engagement in choral singing, and new opportunities for choral singing, through our current tools and through new tools still under development. In the meantime, it is important for all of us to know we have called lifelong singing a priority and worthy of our collective time and resources. ~Tim Sharp