The February 2024 issue of Choral Journal is online and features an article titled “A Skills-First Approach to the All-State Choir Selection Process” by Marshaun R. Hymon. Following is a portion from the article.
Is music literacy the ability to read pitches and rhythms on five lines and four spaces? I think it’s much more broad than that. Music literacy is, yes, reading music. It is also expressive singing, understanding and articulating the history and context of a piece, and displaying that in performance. It is feeling the rhythm and beat, producing quality vocal tone in a variety of genres, etc. With this definition, we decenter the academic and Eurocentric notions of literacy and make room for various cultures; and from an accessibility perspective, this definition also respects various learning styles that might be present in our choir spaces.
I believe choir is the great equalizer. Anyone, at any age, can walk into a choir room and contribute to the ensemble in some way. Should students with a natural, beautiful vocal tone be penalized for their lack of opportunity? I think not. So, how do we mitigate the potential exclusion of students who can be successful in an all-state choir experience, but do not yet have the music reading skills to pass a sight-reading exam? The answer is a skills-first approach to selection.
Read the full article in the February 2024 issue of Choral Journal. acda.org/choraljournal