The Eye of the Tiger

How Narrow Focus and Tribalism Leads to Bad Decision Making

A special edition of the Choralosophy Podcast. It’s basically not about choir at all… But, it’s short and I hope it’s thought provoking, or even helpful!

We sure are living in a strange time. The mission of the Choralosophy Podcast is to encourage conversation to zoom OUT and see the big picture, whether it be in matters strictly musical, or on any other topic. Please join the conversation.

The Eye of the Tiger
Visit www.ryanmain.com for PDF site licenses of some GREAT arrangements and compositions. Enter Choralosophy at checkout to get 10% off!

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A Letter to the Executive Committee of the American Choral Directors Association

Please read the letter below and consider adding your name in the comments. Signers names will not be publicized.

To the Executive Committee of the American Choral Directors Association,

As members of the American Choral Directors Association, we would like to implore you to publicly address the unintentional damage done to the public perception of our profession.We believe, ACDA, in conjunction with other professional organizations acted in good faith by presenting a webinar on May 5th, “What do Science and Data Say About the Near Term Future of Singing?” The webinar presented a lot of solid and helpful information. We genuinely believe that these organizations were acting in our best interest. We do not believe the webinar intended to present official guidelines. Nevertheless, many have perceived the advice presented as medical consensus endorsed by ACDA.

However, there are some critical aspects of the webinar that we find very troubling and potentially damaging to our ability to advocate for choral music, and would like for ACDA to publicly address in the interest of its members:

  • Dr. Lucinda Halstead offered her opinion that no singing would be safe for 1-2 years or until there was an effective vaccine or treatment. This statement, besides being an obvious oversimplification, is currently being shared in memes and in media stories as a “guideline” presented by major organizations that singing is not safe.  
  • There were no experts on COVID-19 or SARS-Cov-2, or even respiratory viral pathology or physiology on the panel. Considering the prevalence of that topic on our current situation, we contend that this was a considerable oversight. 
  • Much of the research on this new virus is ongoing and still inconclusive. As a result, there is already information presented that is out of date. (For example, the mortality risk for people in their 60’s according to the CDC’s current best estimate is 1.3%, Dr. Halstead presented 15%. Or the use of temperature checks, now called into question by recent suggestions that people are most contagious right before symptom onset. None of which is conclusive, because this is a new virus and we are learning more all of the time.)
  • The webinar presented no discussion of adjusting our perception of the risk as new information came out about the virus. 
  • The webinar presented no discussion of the regionality of risk during an epidemic which is one of the most critical tools public health officials use to make policy. This should have been discussed. Dr. Amesh Adalja of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security advises that “decisions should be made locally. By county or groups of counties” which appears to be mainstream epidemiological opinion.
  • Due to the regionality of the risk it is likely that some of our choirs will resume before others, and before a vaccine is available. Without a statement of clarification from ACDA, information from the webinar may provide ammunition for institutions with strained budgets to remove choral programs. 
  • As we begin to plan our upcoming school years, concert seasons, and liturgical calendars , we are asking for ACDA’s support, rather than the added complication of negative news and headlines based on inconclusive data. 
  • More broadly, we feel that ACDA or any organization related to the teaching of singing should not be offering concrete medical advice related to a novel virus. 

The combination of these factors and oversights has created an overwhelming impression within the choral community that singing is dangerous in all contexts and to be avoided altogether until there is a vaccine. We are asking rather,  that ACDA steer the conversation toward how to reduce risk, adjust risk perception to new data, and protect the vulnerable. The ACDA mission statement says that our mission “is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition and advocacy.” We are not a public health organization. Whether intended or not, conjecture from that presentation has been spread widely as expert medical advice. 

Thank you for considering the value of making a public statement addressing this unintended public perception. We all value the contribution ACDA has made in our lives and careers. This is a time, where we see an opportunity to come together as lovers of choral music, like at no time in history to make a difference in the world. 

Signed, (signatures added will NOT be publicized. Only to be shared with ACDA leadership)

Episode 35: Equity Pitfalls of Online Music Instruction with Emmy Burch

This special episode is a Podcast exchange with the brand new “Music (ed) Matters” podcast hosted by Dr. Emmy Burch. I invite you to check out her show!

I am excited to welcome Emmy Burch to the Choral Podcast “scene” with this episode. She already has several excellent conversations available on her channel. In this conversation we discuss some mutual concerns about what we see as under-discussed issues in what could be the early stages of a new era of online delivery of large group music instruction.

Episode 35 with Emmy Burch
Emmy Burch
www.sightreadingfactory.com is the best literacy tool on the market today. Enter Choralosophy at checkout to get 10% off memberships for you AND your students!

Discussions:

Do virtual choirs create equity issues?

What are some necessary steps to close the opportunity gaps?

When we see our students again, how can we prepare them for future online learning?

Does grading online work help or hurt?

Dr. Emily Williams Burch is the founder and artistic director of RISE Chorales, a community choir organization in Savannah, GA with a mission of experiencing musical artistry, education, and personal growth through the choral arts and community experiences. Burch received her Doctorate in Conducting with doctoral minors in music history and music theory from the University of South Carolina, during which she taught introduction to music, designed and taught the history of rock, and directed the university women’s chorus. Dr. Burch earned her Masters of Music Education from Florida State University, where she assisted with the Capital Children’s Choir, and a Bachelor of Music Education from Louisiana State University, where she graduated magna cum laude. Prior to that, she served on the podium as Director of Education and Music for the Savannah Children’s Choir for nine years and worked as Department Chair/General Music/Piano Teacher at Garrison School of Visual and Performing Arts.

Visit www.ryanmain.com for PDF site licenses of some GREAT arrangements and compositions. Enter Choralosophy at checkout to get 10% off!

She continues to have the privilege of traveling the country as a Teacher Trainer and Choral Curriculum Developer for Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music, an interactive K-8 music curriculum. Additionally, she serves as an Artistic Adviser for Perform International, where she helps organizations create and realize their dreams on tours in the US and abroad. Choirs under her direction choirs have performed regionally, nationally, and internationally. Emmy has volunteered in various roles within the American Choral Directors Association, including Repertoire & Resources Chair for Children’s and Youth Community Choirs for the Southern Region. She and her husband live in Savannah, GA where they are members of the Metropolitan Savannah Rotary Club and marathoners who train with the Savannah Striders.

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Watch the conversation!
Now, Choralosophy listeners can use this tool in their classrooms and studios at a 10% discount by going to www.vocevista.com/choralosophy . Chose the version that is right for you enter “Choralosophy” at checkout!

Episode 34: Copyright Law Myths and the Future of Choral Publishing with Susan LaBarr

As we all look forward to an uncertain future in our choral rehearsals, we might also turn our attention to what was an already RAPIDLY changing market for choral sheet music. For a conversation on this topic I reached out to Susan LaBarr, composer and editor for Walton Music. Our conversation was wide ranging from the changes that have occurred over the last 10 years, to her prognostications of things to come. We also discussed common myths about copyright law and the pros and cons of traditional publishing and self publishing.

Discussions:

  • Rules related to performance and recording rights.
  • Changes in the industry pre-covid
  • What could the future look like due to increasing use of technology and increased online music learning.
  • What does “educational use” ACTUALLY mean…
Susan LaBarr
Episode 34
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Susan LaBarr (b. 1981) is a composer and choral editor living and working in Springfield, Missouri. Her compositions are published by Walton Music, Morningstar Music, and Santa Barbara Music Publishing. Susan has completed commissions for choirs worldwide, most notably Seraphic Fire, the National ACDA Women’s Choir Consortium, and the Texas Choral Director’s Association’s Director’s Chorus. She served as the Missouri Composer Laureate for 2012 and 2013. Her arrangement of Quem pastores laudavere appeared on New York Polyphony’s 2014 Grammy- nominated album, Sing Thee Nowell. Her work for mezzo soprano and piano, Little Black Book, was premiered at Carnegie Hall in October 2019.

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Subscribe to Choralosophy on Youtube for easy streaming from your desktop computer! Please Subscribe and RATE on the iTunes store!Android users can also find the show on the Google Play Store! You can also stream on Spotify

www.sightreadingfactory.com is the best literacy tool on the market today. Enter Choralosophy at checkout to get 10% off memberships for you AND your students!

Central to Susan’s musical vocabulary is the knowledge she gained from studying with Alice Parker at her home in Hawley, Massachusetts, where she attended the Composer’s Workshop and Melody Studies Workshop. Susan attended Missouri State University in Springfield, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in music and a Master of Music in music theory. Susan, her husband Cameron, and their son Elliott reside in Springfield, Missouri, where Cameron is the Director of Choral Studies at Missouri State University and Susan works as Editor of Walton Music.

Susan’s Notes from the episode

Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.
Visit www.ryanmain.com for PDF site licenses of some GREAT arrangements and compositions. Enter Choralosophy at checkout to get 10% off!

Episode 33: Risk Assessment for Group Activities with Dr. Amesh Adalja of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

Dr. Adalja is a Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. His work is focused on emerging infectious disease, pandemic preparedness, and biosecurity.

I am honored to be able to publish this in a time in which all of the education field is reeling with the possibility that school might be unrecognizable in the fall. From state educational organizations publishing recommendations that look very scary, to “The Webinar” that blew up facebook.

I publish this NOT because this episode provides a solution, (because there is no easy solution) but simply to begin a dialogue on how to assess our own risks. In our current world, this is a skill everyone will need in order to do their work. We cannot farm risk assessment out completely to politicians or to our bosses.

My goal is to help us be self and singer advocates. The parents of many of our student singers who own restaurants are doing this right now. We are next.

Episode 33
Episode 33

Many of these decisions will not be made by us, but we need our voices at the table armed with solid information. Follow Dr. Adalja on Twitter @AmeshAA

Now, Choralosophy listeners can use this tool in their classrooms and studios at a 10% discount by going to www.vocevista.com/choralosophy . Chose the version that is right for you enter “Choralosophy” at checkout!

Dr. Adalja has served on US government panels tasked with developing guidelines for the treatment of plague, botulism, and anthrax in mass casualty settings and the system of care for infectious disease emergencies, and as an external advisor to the New York City Health and Hospital Emergency Management Highly Infectious Disease training program, as well as on a FEMA working group on nuclear disaster recovery. He is currently a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s (IDSA) Precision Medicine working group and is one of their media spokespersons; he previously served on their public health and diagnostics committees. Dr. Adalja is a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians Pennsylvania Chapter’s EMS & Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness Committee as well as the Allegheny County Medical Reserve Corps. He was formerly a member of the National Quality Forum’s Infectious Disease Standing Committee and the US Department of Health and Human Services’ National Disaster Medical System, with which he was deployed to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake; he was also selected for their mobile acute care strike team. Dr. Adalja’s expertise is frequently sought by international and national media.

Visit www.ryanmain.com for PDF site licenses of some GREAT arrangements and compositions. Enter Choralosophy at checkout to get 10% off!

Dr. Adalja is an Associate Editor of the journal Health Security. He was a coeditor of the volume Global Catastrophic Biological Risks, a contributing author for the Handbook of Bioterrorism and Disaster Medicine, the Emergency Medicine CorePendiumClinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple, UpToDate’s section on biological terrorism, and a NATO volume on bioterrorism. He has also published in such journals as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Infectious DiseasesClinical Infectious DiseasesEmerging Infectious Diseases, and the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Subscribe to Choralosophy on Youtube for easy streaming from your desktop computer! Please Subscribe and RATE on the iTunes store!Android users can also find the show on the Google Play Store! You can also stream on Spotify

Dr. Adalja is a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American College of Physicians, and the American College of Emergency Physicians. He is a member of various medical societies, including the American Medical Association, the HIV Medicine Association, and the Society of Critical Care Medicine. He is a board-certified physician in internal medicine, emergency medicine, infectious diseases, and critical care medicine.

Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.

Dr. Adalja completed 2 fellowships at the University of Pittsburgh—one in infectious diseases, for which he served as chief fellow, and one in critical care medicine. He completed a combined residency in internal medicine and emergency medicine at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he served as chief resident and as a member of the infection control committee. He was a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine from 2010 through 2017 and is currently an adjunct assistant professor there.

www.sightreadingfactory.com is the best literacy tool on the market today. Enter Choralosophy at checkout to get 10% off memberships for you AND your students!

He is a graduate of the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, and he obtained a bachelor of science degree in industrial management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Dr. Adalja is a native of Butler, Pennsylvania, and actively practices infectious disease, critical care, and emergency medicine in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, where he also serves on the City of Pittsburgh’s HIV Commission and on the advisory group of AIDS Free Pittsburgh.

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