The September issue of Choral Journal is online and features an article titled “Michael Praetorius’ Nigra sum à 6: A Pedagogical Experiment” by Kristina Boerger. You can read it in its entirety at acda.org/choraljournal. Following is a portion from the introduction.
When the Augsburg Choir at Augsburg University in Minneapolis was first shut down in spring 2020, I began to explore the powers of the iDevice application called Acapella (sic) to keep students in touch with one another—vocally and otherwise—and with their own musical creativity. A newcomer to the technology (and, in fact, an inveterate Luddite), I had limited imagination for its pedagogical potential.
I designed a series of thirty-second duetting assignments in which students—working in pairs I reshuffled weekly—alternated between recording original melodies into the app and recording original countermelodies in video synchrony with their partners’ starter tracks. I began to consider the extent to which the app could support development of all the skills involved in excellent ensemble singing.
I offer here an account of the experiment I designed for our fall 2020 semester and the lessons I learned once we had wrapped the project. I have concluded that even when we can rehearse in person, I will continue to use Acapella as a practice and collaboration tool for students and an evaluation tool for myself. The silver lining of our shutdown has been the necessity of discovering new pedagogical methods and the unanticipated benefits they alone may bring under any conditions.
Kristina Boerger is the John N. Schwartz Professor of Choral Leadership at Augsburg University, Minneapolis, Minnesota.