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/publications/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. Following is an excerpt from an article in the Fall 2019 issue titled “Incorporating Mindfulness into the Choral Rehearsal” by Lawrence E. Fisher
As music teachers, we often have the advantage of being able to build relationships over several years with our students. We often see warning signs before others. We teachers are the individuals a student may confide in when he or she is struggling with anxiety or depression. We foster a sense of community and family in our ensembles that perhaps offers a safe space or a support network that our students might not have in other places in their lives.
Based on the programming I am seeing at other directors’ concerts, as a choral community we are doing our best to show our students that there is hope. We choose themes for our concerts such as light, dreams, social justice, and equality. The frequency with which we program works such as Andrea Ramsey’s A Letter from a Girl to the World or Jake Runestad’s Please Stay says to me that we are addressing some important issues head on in our rehearsals.1 This led me to wonder whether I could do more to explicitly give my students tools to help with challenging situations or feelings. Studies show that meditation can be just as effective at relieving anxiety in teenagers as antidepressants.2 I decided that I wanted to try to incorporate mindfulness into my rehearsals.
Of course, I was faced with many questions: How do I implement this? Would my students hate it? Am I taking too much time out of each rehearsal when that next performance is around the corner? I decided the best way was to start exploring. What better way than to use what I know. As a high school student, I participated in workshops on Creative Motion. A Dalcroze-related school of thought, it explores getting in tune with your body and deep breathing.
After week-long camps in these activities, I always felt at peace. Only recently did I make the connection that much of what I had learned there were mindfulness practices. I decided to start with some of the tools I had learned as a high school student. I decided to begin incorporating mindfulness into my rehearsals using a centering exercise that has students focus on the breath and deep breathing.
Read more in the Fall 2019 issue at acda.org/chorteach.
1Major Depression: The Impact of Overall Health. (2018, May 10). Retrieved from http://www.bcbs.com/the-health-ofamerica
2 Jamison Monroe (2015, August 18). The Adolescent Brain on
Meditation. Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com