Panel discussion featuring three insightful Professors
In this week’s special panel conversation, I am finally responding to what has been a frequent listener suggestion for a podcast topic. A “no BS” discussion on the Choral Grad School decision that weighs so heavily on many of us, sometimes more than once in our careers. So, I invited a group of experts on the topic. Each with experience working with graduate programs as both a student, and as a professor. Doctors André Thomas, Jennaya Robison and Giselle Wyers each gave graciously of their time to this important discussion.
“Why graduate school?”
“Is it right for me?”
“Is it worth the money”
“What do I look for in a grad school, and what will they be looking for in me?”
“What kind of musical chops do I need to have?”
We don’t always give enough credit to people who teach for 30 years in Middle School. So, is there a way to prop those people up where they are, rather than entice them into leaving their job to go get another degree? Listen to the end to hear Dr. Thomas’s thoughts on this. Dr. Wyers and Dr. Robison also give insightful pieces of advice about balancing motherhood and graduate school.
This special episode is something a bit different, in that it is a recap of a shared experience. All the way back on Episode 17, Marques Garrett challenged me to intentionally find an opportunity to be an “only” in the room. I had reflected in that conversation that, as a white guy, I don’t think I’ve ever been the “only one” in a room. “I don’t know what that feels like.” Marques suggested that he thought that might be good for me to experience. I agreed. Then Covid happened and the “live on air” challenge had to be tabled for a bit.
Enter my friend Maria Ellis to the rescue. (Find Maria’s past episode 29 pt. 2) I had seen Maria’s great videos about her church, and thought that as a musician, there was no better way to experience a cultural growth moment than in Maria’s music rich church in St. Louis. So, we set it up! Off to St. Louis I went, and wow did I have a great time. I learned so much! While I can’t know everything there is to know about Maria’s cultural experience in one day, I now have a frame of reference. I real life, shared experience that can put future interactions in a perspective that I did not have before.
J.D. Frizzell is a standout educator and clinician. In this episode, we discuss Dr. Frizzell’s successful approach to getting his singers to come out of their shells! We all want our ensembles to sing with passion, honesty, and expression, but how do we achieve this in an objective, measurable way? While group discussions of poetic meaning can be helpful, they will not create the kind of transformative performance that will change lives. We must dive deeper into ways we can empower our singers with the skills and preparation to approach the literature without fear—fear of tessitura, vocal faults, note and rhythm accuracy, and more. This will be a helpful, practical discussion in which we identify and rectify common issues that prevent emotional singing.
J.D. Frizzell is the Director of Fine Arts and Director of Vocal Music at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, TN. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Choral Conducting from The University of Kentucky. Dr. Frizzell earned the double Master’s in Music Theory/Composition and Conducting from The University of Southern Mississippi, where he also earned the bachelor’s degree in Music History and Literature.Dr. Frizzell, winner of the 2007 Intégrales Composition Contest, writes music for choir, orchestra, symphonic band, voice, handbells, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments. With music published by many major publishing houses, he has had best sellers throughout the world. Frizzell was chosen by the board of the Tennessee Music Educators Association as the 2011 Outstanding Young Music Educator. Additionally, he was awarded the Dr. Clair E. Cox Award for Teaching Excellence.As the Director of Fine Arts at Briarcrest, Dr. Frizzell leads a faculty of twelve full time faculty-artists and is responsible for coordinating curriculum, instruction, and budgets for all of the fine arts programs (K2-12th grade). He also serves as an advocate and school liaison for all of the visual art, instrumental music, vocal music, dance, theatre, and technical production programs. As the Director of Vocal Music, he teaches the Concert Choir, Advanced Women’s Choir, and OneVoice. Additionally, Dr. Frizzell works with the middle and elementary school choirs when needed.
A leader in the contemporary a cappella movement, he is the co-founder and President of The A Cappella Education Association, a nonprofit dedicated to helping groups around the world. He also serves on the board of the nonprofit June Vocal Music, which is dedicated to the creation of new professional a cappella groups and development of opportunities for diverse and otherwise underrepresented student populations. His high school a cappella group, OneVoice, is a SONY Recording Artist. They were the winners of the Macy’s A Cappella Challenge judged by Pentatonix, contestants on America’s Got Talent, performers at The Emmys, and collaborators with The Swingles. Dr. Frizzell co-authored the books “A Cappella Warm Ups for Pop and Jazz Choirs” and Teaching Music Through Performance in Contemporary A Cappella.Dr. Frizzell is active as a presenter, adjudicator, clinician, and guest conductor. As an active member of TNMEA, NATS, ACDA, and WTVMEA, he has served in multiple volunteer capacities, including two-time Chairperson of All-West Honor Choir Auditions and Performances and Choral Festival.
He has served as the Southern Division ACDA R & S Chair for Men’s Choirs. The board of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation named him one of “Memphis’ Finest” for his philanthropic efforts. He lives in Memphis, TN with his wife, Emily, son, Henry, and dogs, Sally and Ari.For commission, conducting, workshop, or other booking information, please visit http://www.jdfrizzell.com.Dr. JD Frizzell is the Director of Fine Arts and Director of Vocal Music at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, TN, where he is responsible for coordinating all Fine Arts programs (K2-12th grade). As the Director of Vocal Music, he teaches the Concert Choir, Advanced Women’s Choir, Mens Choir, and internationally-acclaimed a cappella group OneVoice. His ensembles have performed at regional, national, and international conventions. Winner of the Integrales Composition Contest, Dr. Frizzell has had many best-selling compositions and arrangements. He also co-authored “A Cappella Warm Ups” with Deke Sharon. Dr. Frizzell is the President of the A Cappella Education Association and the founder of the National A Cappella Convention.