Episode 82: Are Merit-BasedStandards Racist? With Angel Eduardo

Author of the Newsweek article “Why Calling Merit Racist Erases People of Color.”

One of the raging debates today in education centers around the ways in which we can expand access to fruits of high quality education to more students. And that is a wonderful debate to have, and an important one. However, a troubling strain of that song is the tendency to take the easy path toward equality: Attempts to include by EXCLUDING things. Headlines abound about school districts removing or lowering testing standards, or gifted programs citing the lack of equitable outcomes. In the music world, we talk of eliminating blind auditions or auditions all together. There are TONS of fair criticisms of standardized tests, or audition and screening practices for example, but those are problems that could be addressed to simply make a better, fairer, but still rigorous test. Where is that conversation? What if our focus was “how do I raise more people to the bar?” rather than implying without actually saying “we need to lower the bar or remove it?”

I say this is “taking the easy way out” because it absolves the institutions, and even worse, the politicians that oversee the budgets, of doing the HARD work of finding and solving the true barriers of access allowing more students to benefit from these programs. Cancelling the program is simply easier, leading to an appearance of equality, and makes no one actually better off.

Angel Eduardo

“We need to devise and develop other paths to prosperity, more robust social safety nets, and better education systems. We need to talk about solutions that will truly uplift those being harmed by our meritocratic obsession. But calling merit racist is not the way to do it. Meritocracy is a kind of tyranny, but merit still matters.”

Angel Eduardo

In this episode, my guest, Angel Eduardo takes the argument a step further and says the easy way out also erases the talents and merits of students of color. Giving voice to the often unexpressed concern of how young people might interpret hearing the implication that “the standards might be too high for you. So we are lowering them.” What types of long term impact may that have on the psyche?

Episode 82

Episode 81: Can Auditions be Inclusive? With Kirsten Oberoi

One of the foundational principles of this show is that we, as humans AND as colleagues don’t have to agree about everything. In fact I will take it a step further: we NEED disagreement and dialogue in order to learn and grow. This episode is based on that principle. I recently came across Kirsten Oberoi during a Facebook disagreement and thought it would make a great podcast conversation. The disagreement centered around our philosophies related to choir auditions and what it means for a program to be “people centered.”

There is room in the choral community for all kinds of philosophies.

Chris Munce
Episode 81: Kirsten Oberoi

Kirsten made a splash recently with her new podcast Choral Connectivity and her blog called “No Auditions Ever!” She is making a valuable contribution to the conversation, but I only agreed with about 82.7% of it, so I thought we could chat to hash out some of the disagreements and also find where our common ground lies.

Episode 81
Episode 81 on YouTube!

View on YouTube!

Kirsten Oberoi is the Founding Artistic Director of the South Shore Children’s Chorus based out of Quincy, MA – her hometown. Kirsten taught public school for several years – high school in California for two years and middle school in Massachusetts for 5 years. She is now full-time in the non-profit music world at SSCC, as well as the General Manager for the Greater Boston Choral Consortium. Kirsten strongly believes in the mission of people-first music making, and shares this philosophy on her podcast Choral Connectivity.


Episode 80: Finding Connection Again with Nicola Dedmon

At some point, we have to come back to choir, (or quit) and the Covid risk will not be zero. So, it is now unavoidable that we will have to become comfortable engaging with humans in close proximity because they NEED us. Choir is essential. Nicola Dedmon recently wrote a great article in the ACDA Western Division’s Tactus magazine over the summer that I recently found, and found very moving. So, here she is to tell her Covid story as well as discuss with me the choir world’s Covid Conversation.

How can we come back from the polarization, the finger pointing, and the political myopia and become leaders of diverse groups again?

One side thinks the other is pro-death and the other thinks the opposing side are authoritarian hypochondriacs trying to take over the world.

Nicola Dedmon
Nicola Dedmon
Episode 80
Nicola’s Tactus Article

Professor Nicola Bertoni Dedmon is currently on faculty at Fullerton College as a Choral/Vocal Professor, where she coordinates the Choral Area and conducts the Concert Choir and Chamber Singers, in addition to teaching private voice. She currently serves on the board of ACDA Western Division as an R&R Coordinator. Professor Dedmon is a graduate of James Madison University (BM) and Westminster Choir College (MM).

How To Fix Our Broken Relationship with COVID Math co-authored by Dr. Höeg from Episode 49 and 75

Ask Me Literally ANYTHING! Vol. 1

Brought to you by members of my Patreon, who have collaborated with me to create this episode. This is the first time I have done a MULTI topic show. I think you will enjoy it!

Topics in this short episode include:

  • How are you navigating the return to “normal” activities?
  • Do you get flack for not following the zeitgeist in a very liberal profession like choral music? (Spoiler alert: yes! A lot, but only from people who don’t listen to the show.)
  • If someone gave you a lot of money, would you quit your school and turn your pro choir full-time?
  • During the years of building your program to be musically literate, how did you keep students motivated to work on sight-reading?
  • How do you teach rhythm, particularly syncopated rhythms?
  • Do you have any suggestions for recruiting male voices, specifically high school age, to the choir program? How do we change the attitude that singing is for girls or that it’s “not manly?”
Ask Me Literally ANYTHING