ChorTeach is ACDA’s quarterly online publication, designed for those who work with singers of all levels. A full annotated ChorTeach index is available online at acda.org/chorteach. Over 160 articles are organized into seventeen categories. For submission information, to view the index, or to read the latest issue, visit acda.org/chorteach.
Volume 11, issue 3 contains the following five articles:
• Stronger When We Work Together
Michael Jeffrey, Pine Island Schools, Pine Island, Minnesota
“‘Today we’re going to start a group project…’ Those are words that are dreaded by every type-A student. As a high school and college student, there were few words that I hated more when they came out of teachers’ and professors’ mouths. Now, as an adult, my experience with collaboration is very different. It has led to some of my favorite musical performances in the last several years. I have been consistently surprised at how much collaboration I have found in southeast Minnesota. Youth choirs, including Bella Voce, the Honors Choirs of SEMN, and Northfield Youth Choirs, are working creatively with other ensembles and musicians for their concerts.
“Choral Arts Ensemble, an adult, auditioned choir in Rochester, is hosting its third annual Singing For Life High School Festival for which three regional high school choirs attend and perform with the Choral Arts Society in a side-by-side concert. Events like these abound, and they result in performances that are creative, engaging, and memorable for audiences and students alike.”
• I Heart (Love) Sight Singing!
Jane Vanderhoff , Garden City High School (retired), Garden City, Kansas
“Sight singing is the unbreakable principle, the sacred cow, the ‘must do,’ most days, anyway! It is the key to a singer’s progression/growth; it breaks the artificial ceiling of rote singing; it gives students independence and musicianship to get started. It is the key to their success! In my classroom it takes many forms. I use different books from year to year or throughout the year, write exercises on the board, use portions of songs, have students sing in groups or alone, sing the exercise backwards, switch from line to line, sing portions of a song, have one group clap the beat while another counts/claps the rhythm, anything to keep the brain moving in a musical direction.
“For beginning sight readers, I have assigned a pitch to a section (SSA or TTB usually), and they must sing their pitch as it occurs in the exercise, in rhythm. If there are more notes than sections, I sing the leftovers. If they sing on their own, they can choose any exercise in the book for me to sing on the spot. All of these ideas have been stolen from someone else!”
• Ten Commandments for the Children’s Choir Director
Henry Leck, Indianapolis Children’s Choir, Indianapolis, Indiana
“The following material was developed to convey, in a condensed form, some of the important elements of being a children’s choir director. By seeing these ideas as ‘ten commandments,’ one should not construe that this writer has seen the burning bush. As we all know, teaching and conducting are a continuous process of learning and growth. Children make that process an exceptionally joyful one, for they have a tremendous intelligence and artistry within them waiting to be nurtured.
“If a choral director takes the time to understand the child’s voice, its subtleties and capabilities, the results can be completely rewarding artistically and personally.
“1. Create good mental focus. Rapid learning only occurs when the mind is focused. Excellent musicianship becomes apparent only when the mind is acutely sensitive to its physical and aural environment. With this level of mental intensity, the text can take on life and begin to link the singer aesthetically with the audience.”
• Catching Up with VOCES8
Patrick F. Casey, Newberry College, Newberry, South Carolina
“As a lifelong instrumentalist heralding the virtues of chamber playing, I am increasingly drawn to the amazing world of vocal/choral creations. Since first hearing VOCES8 perform in the winter of 2014, I have found this ensemble’s impeccable sensitivity and synchronicity to be completely engaging. I managed to visit with co-founder Barnaby Smith in Greenville, South Carolina, on November 13, 2018, after VOCES8 worked with area choirs in a ninety-minute master class.
“Barnaby, as the ensemble’s co-founder and artistic director, will you briefly share the early history of VOCES8? The group was actually founded out of a group of friends. We met when we were singing together in the Royal School of Church Music’s Millennium Youth Choir. When we were about college age, we got a little bit too old for that choir, so my brother, Paul, and I started to arrange sleepovers for our friends at our parents’ house, which was an excuse to socialize and have a bit of a party, and then, of course, do a lot of singing together.”
• The Care and Preservation of the Voice
Tony Thornton, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts
“As conductors and singers, we work very hard over a period of weeks to prepare for performance. Concert week may include additional rehearsals and certainly a dress rehearsal. This added stress can cause the immune system to weaken, making the body susceptible to illness. It would be a pity to become ill right before the concert. Below are twenty tips to help conductors and singers maintain excellent vocal health throughout the year.
• Strive for good general physical and mental health at all times through exercise, meditation, and proper diet.
• Get plenty of rest. If the body is tired, the voice is tired.
• Along with proper diet, a daily multivitamin, extra Vitamin C, or zinc may help you stay healthy. However, always consult with a physician before adding new supplements.
• Always warm up the voice before teaching or singing.
• Speak, conduct, and sing with proper alignment, which will allow breath to move more efficiently in and out of the body.”