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

How I (Will Spend) My Summer Vacation

The academic and performing calendars are winding down, and jealous friends and family may be starting in with the inevitable "So what will you do this summer?" As a colleague phrased it last week, those of us following the academic calendar tend to fall into two types: "put the work away, give it time and distance, and return in the fall refreshed," or "zoom out and spend the summer doing the big-picture things that you don't have the time to do during the year." I'm squarely in the latter, and (as many of you do) I look forward to the summer as the more unstructured time when I can dedicate large chunks of time to tinkering or experimenting with new ideas or materials, exploring new literature, learning new tools that have come out in the last few months, or making large changes to my practice that are harder to execute "in the moment." With that in mind, I thought I'd share my summer to-do list: the big ideas, tools, and projects that I'll be looking at over the 6 weeks (where do people get this three-month garbage from?) that I'm out of the school. No fear-- most of these can be done in the coffee shop or sweatpants of your choice!
  • Take a Class. This will be the summer that I finally complete a MOOC-- a free, online course. Even if I don't fully complete a course such as Gary Burton's Jazz Improvisation or Introduction to Acoustics, just having access to high-quality lectures and discussions in courses that I either want to explore or that I am interested in a different take or teaching style seems like a good way to sit down for that morning cup of coffee. Take a look at: Coursera, EdX, iTunes U.
  • Read an (e)Book. I'm finally going to get comfortable with my Kindle. As with most technology tools, moving from "substitution" (doing the same thing as before with a different /new tool) to "transformation" (doing something that I couldn't do before) takes a little bit of exploration time, and a commitment to getting over the comfort hump with some new habits. The advantage that I'm interested in over a physical book is the sharing and note taking capacities of the Kindle (and Kindle app). Have you ever been reading something and thought, "I would love for xyz to read that"? It could be your musicians, your colleagues, or just friends or family, but the ability to quickly and easily send ideas, excerpts and quotes from the book itself seems like a great capacity that I'm not yet taking advantage of. Again, it will just take a little practice over the summer, when I can afford to stumble a bit, to get fluent by the fall. I'll also be tinkering with: Building a virtual scale demonstration in Scratch, Rethinking how I teach Audacity.
  • Network. All those great reading sessions and conferences are wonderful opportunities to meet our colleagues and share resources. But they can also be very overwhelming, and many of the great resources and connections that we meet might need to be saved and organized for a later time. Summer's when I can get on top of some new organization systems so that I can find and share things easily in the fall. I'll be cleaning up: Scanning and tagging my new incoming sheet music (using Mac OS or Evernote), Finishing my contact page to make it easier to share all my contact info, Redesigning and cleaning up some blog posts, and Saving useful articles and resources in an online social bookmarking site such as Diigo to share with my students and colleagues. 
  • Take Time. One of the great gifts of summer is the ability to work on the things with a little more autonomy-- with that comes the time to work a bit slower and try new things. Listen to great new music (and tweet about it to share your discoveries). Revisit your favorite or most inspirational recordings (and build a playlist in Spotify to share with your ensembles in the fall). Take a deep dive into blogs of your favorite conductors, composers or thinkers (and consider sharing your thoughts on your own). However you spend it, may it treat you well and may you rejoin us in the fall primed for another great year of music making.
Thanks to all who have contributed articles, ideas, questions or comments during the year. If "writing an article for ChoralTech" seems like a good summer goal for you, we're always looking for submissions on any level from beginner to advanced. Click my name up top to message me your ideas!