Here is the third part of my vision for impacting our world for choral music.
There are two previous entries:
In Tony Wagner’s The Global Achievement Gap, the author outlines seven survival skills for the 21st century. For each of these areas, we must individually, in our own sphere of work and influence, connect the dots for all those that we depend upon—parents, principals, supervisors, superintendants, board members, agency managers, religious leaders—that singing is relevant to life as outlined above, and to these seven survival skills. With all that we do going forward, we must be able to answer the following questions, and connect the dots for those that influence the lives of our potential young singers. Ask yourself, with research to support your answer coupled with passion, “What does singing contribute to…
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving?
- Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence?
- Agility and Adaptability?
- Initiative and Entrepreneurialism?
- Effective Oral and Written Communication?
- Accessing and Analyzing Information?
- Curiosity and Imagination?
And if you find yourself needing some help, or a story, to go along with your research and reason, I promise that the child’s vitality, passion and creative determination to make music, with or without the support of the education system, should be the clear signal to its value to children, and its potential for the education system. Start there for any needed anecdotes.
How Can the American Choral Directors Association and other choral constituencies support your effort?
- Through the development of collaborative choir hubs. These hubs must be regional, and must deal with the context of the region and local realities and local culture; ACDA must assist with these regional hubs by working with and through other musical organizations. These hubs must develop on a region-by-region basis. For ACDA, this could be good news, if our own volunteer leadership system can evolve to thinking in terms of interconnectedness, and in terms of mentoring.
- These choir hubs must attempt to bring everyone involved in music education together at the local level-education, faith, community, industry; this is not a desire, it is a strategic imperative for us to actively pursue our interconnectedness—we simply have to work together. We have music education specialists, vocal music specialists, industry specialists, administrative specialists, and even children pedagogy specialists, but what is missing? I believe the missing element is an attempt to connect. ACDA is working hard at trying to make us connect.
- As choir hubs are established, local needs and priorities will be accessed, and resources will be identified and coordinated; one area may be better financed than another—one region may be better resourced than another—we simply have to face that fact and get over it. While I would like to see a scalable program, I believe we have to work locally, regionally, or using ACDA and MENC’s structure, by state or division.
- This assessment will lead to a more effective delivery of music in and out of school and community; we will have to create ways to mentor and teach, and multiply. We will have to take the emphasis away from the “tuxedoed conductor”, and place it on mentoring others and nurturing the system;
- These hubs will be non-bureaucratic, light-touch, and flexible, focused on a broader, richer music offering for all children and young people in the local community; sustainability will be achieved by generativity and not by bureaucracy.
- We will create a common canon of choral music that is acceptable without having to have statements of acceptability; we will identify the texts, region by region, and we will eliminate the intellectual property barrier in cases where it is indeed an economic barrier; we will create an open-source delivery system which will also assist in eliminating certain economic barriers.
- We will make resources available, free, and online, for mentors as well as protégés; we will create guides, director’s helpers, and help lines. ACDA is already doing this digitally through its website, and this will continue to grow as more and more regions share their success through an online mentoring process.
What has to happen?
- Schools must help;
- Community choirs must help;
- Faith-based institutions must help;
- They must work together to offer the “neutral” space and the resources and leadership;
- This effort must continue to support school music teachers;
- We must create a common cannon of choral song;
- We must identify and anticipate laws and regulations;
- We must create awareness through welcoming “Come and Sing” opportunities and new awareness options such as a community or city-wide “Day of Singing”;
- We will continue to support our traditional long forms of rehearsal and commitment, but we must create new “short forms” of choral experience;
- We must document the activity, the child’s participation, the lessons-learned, and document the child’s participation for credentialing/documentation purposes;
- We must develop the mentoring system and provide learning and development resources and workshops for ongoing generativity and sustainability;
- If we are successful, we can then take the program national.
And, because I am a realist, let me point out the potential problems that I have heard and witnessed as we continue our efforts:
- In both urban and non-urban areas, transportation of children is a challenge;
- Each region will have its unique barriers, which are rarely something universal such as “financial”, or “expertise”, or “sports”;
- Everywhere-Time of day and 21st century family schedule and priorities;
- Neutrality of place for gathering and rehearsal;
- Cultural priorities from region to region;
- Regulations and laws as interpreted and enforced from region to region;
- Common cannon of song and material from region to region.