#71: Wednesday, June 23, 2021
So…You Want To Write A ChoralNet Blog?
Do you have a choral-related topic that you are passionate about? Is there something in your rehearsal or classroom process that you are really really good at, that you want to share with other choral colleagues? Is there some part of the choral world that really speaks to you – and you want to share that excitement with others? Then perhaps consider writing a blog for ChoralNet!
I started writing blog entries for ChoralNet in 2018. At present, its been 3 years, 70 entries, and counting! Initially, Sundra Flansburg, Director of Membership & Communications at national ACDA, approached me in early 2018 about sharing my expertise on women’s/treble rep. I thought – this is great! Awesome! Yes! I wanted to be more visible outside my state/region, so I jumped in feet first. I was thrilled to share my excitement about repertoire with the ChoralNet audience.
Initially, I wrote weekly. Then I realized that was too frequent a schedule to keep up indefinitely, especially as I was in my third trimester of a pregnancy, about to have a newborn on my hands. So, after a bit, I transitioned to bi-weekly, and then monthly. Monthly has worked out very well. Frequent enough that I feel like my offerings are regular, expected, on a schedule. But not so frequent that I’m scrambling to get enough content.
I like to talk about repertoire. To present about repertoire at conferences. To write about repertoire. Repertoire is my “jam.” So, doing a repertoire blog for ChoralNet seemed an excellent avenue.
In my entries, I usually choose one piece at a time – and then dissect the piece for the ChoralNet readers. Sometimes the repertoire is by a living composer – and I can reach out to that composer for a quote, or to chat with them. Sometimes the repertoire is a commissioned piece – and I can reach out to the conductor/ensemble who commissioned the piece, for insight on the initial creation process.
Often, the piece is one I’ve done with my ensembles at Hollins University, and/or a festival choir I’ve conducted. Then, I pepper in my own experiences – why did I pick it, how did I teach it, what pedagogy strategies or resources did I use, what did my singers think of it, what might I do differently next time, how did I program it along with other items on the same concert, and more. These are the ones that are easiest for me to write – stream of consciousness and such – and end up being the most helpful to other conductors, based on responses I’ve received.
Sometimes, it isn’t a piece I’ve done, but a piece in my “to program” pile. (We all have one [or more] of those piles, yes?!) Thinking through a piece for a blog helps me work through any questions I may have about the piece, and work out where best to use it in a future semester or year. And hopefully it helps other conductors do the same.
Overall, my blog is almost entirely practical. I try to focus on information that fellow conductors could use in the trenches. Real-life, active, day-to-day strategies about repertoire and programming.
I love that ChoralNet is an official venue, since it’s hosted by ACDA, but doesn’t necessarily require formal cited writing like a scholarly journal article. Scholarly articles are wonderful (always read your Choral Journal!) – but they aren’t something I would be able to put out weekly or bi-weekly or monthly. For these blog entries, I can use my own experiences, and write in a comfortable dialogue, while still maintaining quality information. It can be informative, yet conversational – like excitedly sharing a piece with a colleague over coffee, or presenting an interest session at a conference.
At present, all the “regular” blog slots are set for the summer (weekly/monthly rotations, etc), but Sundra is looking for new one-off blogs, for when a regular writer has to take a week off, or there’s a 5th Thursday in a month instead of only 4, etc. That’s a perfect way to get started! Write one, no long-term commitment. See if it suits you, see what kind of response you get, and if you enjoy it. Then, if you’re interested in a bigger opportunity, rotations and cycles will change, and there will certainly be opportunity for a larger commitment later on.
Through my blogs, I’ve interacted with composers, conductors, singers, authors, and publishers. My blog affords me a national avenue to reach colleagues, teachers, and conductors in all settings, and to share my excitement and expertise with them. I love the networking, and the connectivity. I love being a viable, visible resource in the choral community. If you feel like you have a voice you want to share, please consider writing a blog! I’d be happy to answer additional questions you might have – just comment below and I’ll respond. If you know you’re interested, contact Sundra Flansburg . She’d love to hear from you!
Until next month!
Dr. Shelbie Wahl-Fouts is Director of Choral Activities and associate professor of music at Hollins University, a women’s college in Roanoke, Virginia.