Just a random rant in my car. As performance opportunities dwindled over the last year, we have been quick to rationalize this as a good thing. Maybe because we needed to in order to cope with the loss? Either way, maybe it’s not that simple. Maybe the performances are critical.
In this conversation, Soprano Deborah Stephens and I engage in an open and raw conversation about many aspects of identity and how it effects our concepts of self as well as how this effects our view of the music world. We hit the hot button topics of our own identities and how we see ourselves, tokenism, stereotypes in musical tastes, blind auditions, appropriation, “who is this music for?” and much more. You won’t want to miss a minute of this one!
Deborah Stephens graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Georgia in December 2019 with a Bachelors of Music in Voice Performance. She is currently in a Master of Music in Early Music, Oratorio, & Chamber Ensemble at Yale University. In September 2017, Deborah founded and began to direct VERITAS Vocal Ensemble, a small group of 10 UGA students passionate about choral singing. VERITAS has performed on the UGA Student Spotlight Concert, many faculty and student recitals, and hosted a joint-ensemble benefit concert to support music education. Deborah currently enjoys speaking engagements at universities and on music podcasts, has been featured by Early Music America, and performs with professional choral ensembles such as Kinnara, Coro Vocati, and the Lake Junaluska Singers, and is a sought after freelance soloist.
Your TeacherGram can’t be your main focus. Make sure your kids remain at the center of everything you’re doing.
We are now in a time in which the line between our day to lives and our social media lives are becoming ever harder to keep separate. Almost like a living business card, we are curating public personas that for some people are the closest they will come to knowing the “real” person. As teachers, we are citizens of the world and are not immune to this rapidly changing landscape. The pandemic has only increased the amount of time we spend on social media. Katherine Rosenfeld has been winning this game as far as I can tell. She has managed to create a truly positive, professional and FUN web persona. As a new teacher, she is seeking ways to stay connected with her students whether in or out of the classroom.
Katherine Rosenfeld graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2019 with a degree in choral music education. Her time at NAU was marked by leadership roles including serving as the President for both the NAU chapter of the American Choral Directors Association and the Shrine of the Ages Choir. After finishing her student teaching in December of 2019, Katherine accepted a position teaching 7th and 8th grade choir at Arizona School for the Arts, a charter performing arts school in downtown Phoenix, where she currently teaches. Since the majority of Katherine’s teaching career has been online thus far, she seeks creative and innovative ways to connect with her students including her presence on social media. In addition to teaching, Katherine sings in church choirs and professional ensembles in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Sedona and runs a private voice studio.
I was recently introduced to the Enneagram, so I cannot claim any expertise on it, so I called in a knowledgable friend! I invited Kailin Kane to come explain the Enneagram in a way that can enhance the context for those that know about it already, or as an introduction to noobs like me. As a music educator, she also has some really interesting ideas for using Enneagram as lens through which a director could view our students, singers or players. If we have groups of any size in front of us, it is safe to say that we have each of the nine distinct points of view operating within our rehearsal. Understanding these human truths can help us create an environment of empathy and compassion in our rehearsal spaces.
Kailin Kane has taught oboe and faculty development courses at the U.S. Army and U.S. Naval Schools of Music as well as coaches student chamber groups. She enlisted in the Army in 2007 and has served with the U.S. Army Ground Forces Band, U.S. Army Europe Band & Chorus, and the 323d Army Band “Fort Sam’s Own,” and has been a guest musician with U.S. Military Academy Band. A native of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, she earned her Bachelor’s of Music in Oboe Performance from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. She is currently seeking certification and training to teach the Enneagram.
Discuss (let kids chime in as much as possible) the examples of simple musical instruments. Why does a piano sound like a piano, or guitar like a guitar etc. (I recommend having your computer ready with some simple instrument sounds mp3s that can be imported and shone in Voce Vista.)
How is the human voice different? It’s way more complicated than a piano. Why? The human voice is complicated because the air speed, vocal fold proximation, and almost infinite number of shapes created by the resonating cavity allows for infinite numbers of sounds and timbres. Show this video https://youtu.be/au92XTLm_SU You could also ask kids to make goofy noises into the meet one at a time to prove the point.
Define pitch vs. noise (Show live examples in Voce Vista)
Discuss spoken language. “Why can we understand each other? Our brains are able to detect the subtle changes of overtones that occur when a person is moving their mouth. Show in Voce Vista, and be sure to point out that we speak in pitch. Without pitch our brain would not be able to detect the overtone patterns.
Then move into singing sounds. Demonstrate some clearly sung, resonant examples of the 5 major vowels live into Voce Vista. Point out the singers formant up around 3500 hz, and point out the shifting overtone pattern as your mouth changed shape. Optional video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N5q85G3ydk
This is a good chance to explain the importance of blend in a choir.
Next, I “imitated” young singers in a loving way… “The breathy kid,” “Kid who’s too cool to open his mouth” and any other funny ones you come up with. Recorded these live in Voce Vista and showed the kids some of the lack in overtone clarity that happens with those types of singing errors in technique. Always good to put good examples up for comparison. A nice review of concepts here: https://youtu.be/PKengo7y28U
On the last day I gave the kids 3-4 minutes to record and send their own sound sample for analysis. I imported and shared them all and let the kids see the “pictures of their sound” which they got a kick out of. It also gave us a chance to address the issue of “I don’t like the sound of my voice. I sound weird on recordings.” Well, yes Sally, that’s because you hear your own voice before the RESONANCE is complete. Ties things together nicely.
visit vocevista.com/choralosophy to download the software for a free 30 day trial. If you chose to purchase it, you will get 10% off when you enter Choralosophy checkout!