Episode 31: Stuck at Home? Try Composing! With Ryan Main

Have you been looking for an excuse to try your hand at composing or creating custom classroom materials for your students? Ryan Main made the switch from teaching to composing full time years ago and has some advice.

Ryan and I had this conversation about a month ago when we were still allowed to have people in our houses… 🙂 It turns out the conversation was very timely, as many of us now have some time on our hands to spend on being creative. In fact, many of us have been forced to create custom materials for our class. Ryan’s story of transitioning from classroom teacher who began to write for his OWN students, to full time composer contains a lot of helpful ideas for those of us having to reinvent the teaching of choral music.

Episode 31

Of course, we all want to go back to normal, but is it possible that we will discover some NEW best practices in the next month that we can carry forward in to the future? I think so!

Composer, director and clinician, Ryan Main writes music for choirs and bands at all levels.  An award winning composer, his music has been published and performed internationally. His titles have earned multiple Editor’s Choice distinctions from JW Pepper, and have been performed at honor choir events, honor band events, and conferences around the nation, including the Midwest Band Clinic and the American Choral Director’s Association national conference.

Ryan holds a Master of Music in Music Composition and a Master of Music in Music Education from the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Composition from the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Ryan is passionate about quality music education for all. He founded and serves as artistic director of the Youth Chorus of Kansas City, a non-profit organization serving youth of all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds throughout the Kansas City metro area. He is also the Director of Music at Village Presbyterian Church on Antioch.

Ryan is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the Missouri Choral Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

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Choir Director Probs: It’s Ok to Suck at Being an Online Choir Teacher

Just a short note of encouragement to those of you colleagues putting a lot of pressure on yourself right now. Stop it! Do your best, but stop it. 🙂


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Episode 30. How to lead the perfect FINAL rehearsal before festival. If COVID 19 lets us have the festival…

And other musings about my plans to take choir online.

This is a strange time to be posting about choir in a Podcast right now. Considering that choirs are being sidelined all around the world. Of course, we might be the worst kind of activity right now. Sitting in crowded rooms deep breathing… But sadly, we might be one of the most NEEDED activities right now. So how do we keep the social interaction of a choral rehearsal alive and well during this public health crisis?


I will also share my thoughts about how I like to run a “final” rehearsal before a big performance.

Are your final rehearsals before big events frantic and stressful? Does it affect your singers negatively?

How do we spend our final hour with a group before an important performance where the details really matter? I present this to you, not as the CORRECT approach, but as MY approach philosophically. I truly hope it helps.

1. It won’t be perfect. So chill. Instill chill.
2. Your stress will be magnified in your singers.
3. The final rehearsal should be focused on SINGER directed final detail fixes as much as possible. Your ideas are present too, but each singer, if invested has a bunch of things they want to fix. Provide a way for them to voice it.
4. If your demeanor is calm, the singers will bring less nerves into the performance. You can show intensity of purpose while also showing a relaxed sense of calm.
5. Don’t overwhelm them with LONG list of things to fix. If it’s the day before, it’s too late… big picture, big issues only.

If you would like to see the WHOLE one hour rehearsal, I will be posting video and discussion in March on Patreon as the next patron only episode. www.patreon.com/choralosophy