In this fourth and final installment of the first Choralosophy Miniseries, Dr. Christopher Harris and I discuss the potential influence of representation on the choral profession and the next generation of students. However, the conversations was quite wide ranging allow us to touch on other topics like cultural influences on music, the universality of music and even rehearsal strategies, including the strategies involving music literacy as well as rote learning. I found Dr. Harris’ take on all of these topics to be uniquely explained and articulated in a way that helped me grow during our conversation. Tune in and I think it will help you too!
Dr. Christopher H. Harris, native of Fort Worth, Texas, is a music educator, conductor, performer, and choral composer. In August 2017 he joined the faculty at Arkansas Tech University as Director of Choral Studies and Assistant Professor of Music. He received his PhD in Choral Music Education from Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL, his Master’s in Choral Conducting from Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY, and his Bachelor’s in Music Education from Texas Southern University in Houston, TX. Prior to entering graduate school, Harris enjoyed several years of successful public school teaching in Houston, Texas. His choirs received numerous sweepstakes awards at state UIL competition as well as honors to perform with the Bay Area Chorus and an invitation to perform as a demonstration group at the Texas Choral Directors Association Convention.
Harris is the founder of the Houston Master Singers and has served as the Assistant Director for the Houston Ebony Opera Guild. He is active as an adjudicator and has presented numerous sessions on choral rehearsal techniques at state and regional conventions. He is a published composer with several accolades including winner of both the Eastern and National Divisions of the 2013 National Association for Music Education Composition Competition, and the Grand Prize Winner of the 2016 Ithaca College Choral Composition Competition. His music has been performed internationally by mixed, men’s, and treble choirs of varied ages and abilities. Most recently Harris was honored through the selection of his music for performance by the 2018 Texas All-State Mixed Choir, the 2018 Southwest American Choral Directors Association Men’s Honor Choir, the 2018 Arkansas Intercollegiate Choir, and the 2019 Arkansas All-State Mixed Choir and New York All-State Mixed Choir.
As a performer Christopher has performed as guest baritone soloist for concerts with the Texas Southern University Choir, the Houston Ebony Opera Guild, the Houston Symphony Chorus, the 2013 Owego School District’s Production of Faure’s Requiem, with choirs from Florida State University, and the Tallahassee Community Chorus. Harris was guest soloist with the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble for their performance at the Southwestern Division of the College Band Directors National Association Convention in Houston, Texas in March 2018.
In this part of the February series, I invited my friend Jazz Rucker into the studio to discuss a term that has rocketed to the top of education vernacular in recent years. “Equity” is frequently confused with “equality,” but has some very important qualitative differences. Jazz is currently serving as the Equity Chair for the Missouri Music Educators Association, which is a new position in the organization. As a result, Jazz has found himself in a position of inquiry and forging a new path toward an ideal of equity and justice in music education. In this conversation we take a birds eye view of the topic and discuss in depth our thoughts on good ways to get everyone to buy in to this journey.
There is so much great space for this discussion. We have to get out of “this way or that way” mentality. I just want people to agree to go on the journey. Whatever that means for you.
Jazz Rucker He recently joined the faculty at Lee’s Summit North High School. He came to LSN from Columbia Public Schools. He began his career as a middle school vocal specialist. He then opened Muriel Williams Battle High School as the Director of the Vocal Arts program which included the launch of the school’s first competitive show choir. Jazz earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Missouri and is pursuing a Masters of Music Education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. Jazz is grateful for the support of his wife Tara and their two daughters Brynlynn and Berkley.
Jazz would like to recommend the following books on the topics discussed today:
In this episode Maria Ellis and I discuss the practical aspects of recruiting across cultural lines for our choirs through the telling of her own story. Maria grew up not knowing that a career as a conductor was possible for her, but through a big dream and a big change of life direction, she began her music degree after 12 years in the business world. Now doing what she loves, she reflects back on the journey and offers us great advice in helping to make sure our students never grow up seeing themselves as limited.
Maria in her own words, “
Music Educator, Choral Conductor, with over 20 years of choral music experience. I have been called a Master Educator and a Force of Nature by Dr. Jim Henry, University of Missouri- St. Louis. I hold a B.M. in Music Education emphasis on Voice (K-12 Certified) Degree from the University of Missouri- St. Louis.
I have served as the Arts and Administrative Fellow for The St. Louis Symphony and I currently serve as the Community Engagement Manager for The St. Louis Children’s Choirs. I am the Founding Conductor of The Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries’ newly formed City of Music All-Star Chorus.