The Top Choralosophy Topics of 2019

The Choralosophy Podcast is almost one year old as 2019 comes to a close. I launched the website in mid January of 2019, began production and released 4 episodes in mid February. So, I think now is as good a time as any to look back on the top episodes of 2019, or YEAR ONE of what I hope is many for the Choralosophy podcast. As you look back at the most downloaded, streamed, shared and discussed episodes of 2019, be thinking about guests and topics you would like to see me hit in 2020! I am making more plans for choral director mental health, literacy and voice science episodes now, but I would love to hear your ideas too! Special thanks to all of the show guests who make each episode special!

Most Downloaded Episodes of 2019

# 5 Episode 1: Health, Happiness and Balance for the Choral Director

I am actually really happy this episode, the very FIRST thing I recorded is still getting streamed as new folks come to the show. It has a lot of helpful things in it in terms of building a healthy framework for approaching our job. But more than that, I think it helps listeners to the show get to know the host and where I am coming from. Maybe my motivations behind making this podcast. Highlights include my personal philosophy on setting and maintaining my values hierarchy as well as a segment with my better half, Beth where she keeps me honest. 🙂

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Beth and Chris Munce

#4 Episode 17: Beyond Elijah Rock with Dr. Marques Garrett

In this episode, Dr. Garrett and I discuss the importance of the music of black composers that do NOT fit into categories of idiomatically black music like Gospel, Jazz and Spirituals. And, as many of episodes on this show tend to do, the conversation drifts into the personal and social ways that race affects the interactions of humans and choral directors specifically. I had a lot of fun recording this show and I learned a lot. Conversations like this one can really help us frame the way we learn about and discuss important topics like this.

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Dr. Marquess Garrett

#3 Episode 19: Seeking Anti-Fragility in the Choral Rehearsal with Eric Barnum

I mentioned when I published this one that it might be the most PHILOSOPHICALLY important episode on the show so far. And four month later, I still think that is true. This topic is a passion of mine for a couple of reasons. First, I think the concept outlined in the episode known as “Anti-Fragility” WORKS when used as a guiding principle in the classroom. (It is not the same as “grit” or “resilience” which are fine concepts or buzzwords, but paint an incomplete picture of the psychology at play.) If you have not listened to this episode yet, be sure to do so before your choirs come back from break! is the best literacy tool on the market today. Enter Choralosophy at checkout to get 10% off memberships for you AND your students!
Eric William Barnum

#2 Episode 18: Ripping Off the Bandaid

Why you CAN and SHOULD stop playing notes and making rehearsal tracks for student singers.

Got a lot of blow back from this one… lol. The vast majority was positive. Teachers from everywhere reached out with messages of appreciation for the content and processes outlined in this episode. But, there were a decent number who may have felt, let’s say, challenged by the claims. Looking back now, I still feel good about saying that in ALMOST every case, teaching our singers to be literate, independent and self sufficient musicians is the greatest gift we can give them as teachers. Are there certain choral situations where this won’t work? Like honor choirs, some community choirs or church choirs? Sure. I get that there are exceptions. I do believe that young singers can have the band-aid ripped off on day one and never need the keyboard.

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#1 Episode 26: The Art (or Science?) of Teaching the Vowel with Amanda Quist

Shared over 60 times on Facebook, downloaded or streamed over 3000 times. Each new show launch needs one “choiral” post in its first year, and I think this was it. I think the topic is really important as we move the academic content of choral music fully into the 21st Century. We will need to be literate in the science of what we teach. It is my opinion that being “only” an artist will not qualify us to stay relevant in the education community in the next 100 years. (hmmm, maybe that’s an episode…) Discussions like this are a great start! More to come!

Dr. Amanda Quist

Honorable mention episodes that also cracked into the 2k download club in the first year: Episode 21: Anyone Can Get an A in Choir and Episode 20: Choral Appropriation? or Cultural Sharing with Brandon Boyd

Episode 26: The Art (or Science?) of Teaching the Vowel with Amanda Quist

In this episode I asked the expert, Dr. Amanda Quist to chat with me about teaching the concept of vowels, resonance and intonation. Is it possible to measure a vowel scientifically? Or is the purity of a vowel subject to the opinion of the conductor? We discuss what I believe to be a new frontier in choral classrooms by using technology to teach students how visualize and then hear their own resonant singing. One important topic we discuss is the unfortunate practice of “Choral Band-Aid” vowels. I define this as avoiding the teaching of proper anatomy of vowel structures in order to get to a blended sound more quickly.

Dr. Amanda Quist
Episode 26

Dr. Amanda Quist is the Director of Choral Activities for the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Dr. Quist was previously Chair of the Conducting, Organ, and Sacred Music Department, and Associate Professor of Conducting at Westminster Choir College. Dr. Quist is the recipient of Westminster Choir College of Rider University’s 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award, the 2018 Mazzotti Award for Women’s Leadership, and she is the Carol F. Spinelli Conducting Fellow. Dr. Quist was recently invited to be a conductor for the ACDA International Exchange Program, clinician for the 2019 ASPIRE International Youth Music Festival in Australia, juror for the Penabur International Choir Festival in Indonesia, and clinician for the Interkultur International Choral Festival. Westminster Kantorei, winner of the 2018 American Prize in College & University Choral Performance, has performed at the American Choral Directors Association’s (ACDA) Eastern Division Conference, Boston Early Music Festival, American Handel Festival, and Interkultur.

The choir recently released its first commercial recording, Lumina, distributed by Naxos, which was hailed by as a recording “sung with great beauty of sound and excellent articulation … a CD to cherish” and by National Medal of Arts recipient Morten Lauridsen as “superb, a splendid recording, highly recommended.” During her work with the Westminster Symphonic Choir, Dr. Quist collaborated with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Dresden Staatskapelle. She also serves as Chorus Master for the Philadelphia Orchestra Chorus. Dr. Quist’s role as Chorus Master for the premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s opera Matsukaze at the Spoleto Festival USA and the Lincoln Center Festival garnered praise from The New York Times and Charleston City Paper, who described the chorus’ performance as “beautifully prepared, gripping,” a “gossamer web of voices” and “bridging the vocal and instrumental textures with perfect intonation.”

Dr. Quist was Director of the Westminster Vocal Institute, a highly regarded summer program for talented high school students, and Director of Choral Activities at San José State University. Her other honors include the James Mulholland National Choral Award and the Audrey Davidson Early Music Award. An active guest conductor and clinician, her recent and upcoming appearances include the NAfME All National Honor Choir, All State High School & Collegiate Honor Choirs throughout the country, and serving as a headliner for music conferences in the US and abroad. Dr. Quist is the National ACDA Repertoire & Resources Coordinator for Collegiate Activities, and her choral series is published through Walton Music.

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Frost School Choral Studies on Facebook

The pink trombone. Try it!

The Choralosophy Vocal Ped Suite

Episode 25: Loving by Letting Go with Jaclyn Johnson

In this episode, Beth and I chat with our mutual friend, Dr. Jaclyn Johnson about her choice to step away from the choral classroom and her University teaching post to go to Brazil to teach Yoga. We discuss her goals in embarking on this adventure, and how she is using this time away to reboot her focus as an educator and conductor. I think you will enjoy this chat and the fascinating story behind it! Other topics include mindfulness, and cultural norms dealing with physical touch and materialism.

Described as an energetic firecracker, Dr. Jaclyn Normandie-Johnson’s goal is to share her passion for life and music around the world. Her current areas of research include Latin American music, vocal pedagogy, and music-incorporated yogic philosophy. Johnson is a prolific lecturer, honor choir conductor, and clinician around the country. An avid Wellness Life Coach, she spent the last 6 months living in India and Brazil practicing and teaching yoga. 

Johnson earned her doctoral degree from the University of Michigan, and has had a thriving career as a high school, university, and church choral educator. Ensembles under her direction received numerous honors, including performances at the American Choral Directors Association National Conference, Western Division Conference, and Central Division Conference. 

Receive 10% Discount on your orders at where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
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