Episode 90: Sound Before Sight with Carol Krueger

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Teaching students to be literate requires teachers who are trained for it.

The episode you have been asking for for over a year is finally here! It is jam packed full of ideas and solutions. The music literacy guru herself, Carol Krueger and I discuss the crisis facing music education that few are talking about. We have a serious scaffolding problem regarding literacy in music education. Carol calls it a “spiral” of concepts that are not being layered on for students consistently. Students are arriving to study music at the collegiate level in startling numbers deficient in rudiments, like pitch matching, pitch memory, keeping a steady beat, a developed sense of audiation, or ability to write down what they hear. Carol even makes me improvise on solfege!

“Many of our students are arriving in college, illiterate in music. They may have sung a ton of songs, but they can’t hear a sound and tell you what they heard, because we didn’t label it for them.”

Carol Krueger
Episode 90

How do we solve this problem? There is not a quick fix. We must start students at the beginning of their music education, scaffolding sounds and LABELS for the sounds from the elementary level. There are many barriers making this difficult for us. But it is so critical. Neurologically, music literacy is the SAME as linguistic literacy, and developing advancing skills in all types of literacy carry lasting benefits that all of our students deserve.

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Carol Krueger

Dr. Krueger formerly served as the Director of Choral Activities at Valdosta State University, Emporia State University, and Florida Southern.  She also served as the Associate Director of Choral Activities at the University of South Carolina and the University of Montevallo.  A native of Wisconsin, Krueger received her bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and both an M.M. and D.M.A. in Choral Conducting from the University of Miami.

YouTube Channel

An active clinician, adjudicator and guest conductor, Krueger has most recently conducted festivals and honor choirs at the collegiate, high school and middle school levels in Maryland, Arkansas, South Dakota, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, Kansas, New York, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Washington, Georgia, South Carolina, North Dakota, Indiana [2021] and Kentucky [2021]. In addition, Dr. Krueger served as the guest conductor of the North-North Central ACDA Middle School Treble Choir (Milwaukee, 2020) of Vivaldi’s Gloria in Carnegie Hall (2010), the Adult Chancel Choir and Chamber Singers at Montreat Presbyterian Association of Musicians Conference (2010), and multiple performances of Epcot’s Candlelight Processional and Massed Choir Program (2005). 

Krueger has presented interest sessions at the American Choral Directors National Convention in New York, the OAKE (Kodaly) National Convention in Charlotte, the ACDA Southern Division Conventions in Mobile, Nashville and Louisville, the Southern Division MENC Convention in Charleston, the North Central Division ACDA in Madison, the Eastern Division ACDA in Providence, the Eastern Division NAfME in Hartford, as well as interest sessions or workshops in twenty-eight states (Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas,  Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota,  Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia), Australia and England. Krueger is also widely recognized for her work with music literacy. Oxford University Press publishes her book, Progressive Sight Singing.

More resources Carol has generously shared with the Choralosophy Audience

Episode 89: Writing Music People LIKE to Sing with Alan Bullard

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For this Oxford Press conversation, I was able to speak to composer Alan Bullard about his life, career and approach to choral music. We talked about what it was like to study with Herbert Howells, the need for music for flexible voicings, the contrasting economy of sheet music sales in the US and UK, as well as his approach to “compositional imposter syndrome.” I especially enjoyed his advice to younger composers. It’s ok to promote yourselves! It’s not bragging! It’s how the business works. So, sit back, relax and get to know Alan Bullard.

Alan Bullard
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Episode 89

Alan Bullard was born in 1947, grew up in London, and studied with Herbert Howells and Antony Hopkins at the Royal College of Music, and with Arnold Whittall at Nottingham University.He has been writing music all his life, and frequently undertakes commissions for choral societies, church choirs, orchestral societies and many other ensembles. His choral music, both sacred and secular, has been performed in a wide range of venues in the UK, the USA, and elsewhere.

Many of his choral works are published by Oxford University Press, and he is the editor of, and contributor to, The Oxford Book of Flexible Anthems, The Oxford Book of Flexible Carols, the Oxford Book of Easy Flexible Anthems, and the Oxford Book of Flexible Choral Songs. His works are recorded on CD by such ensembles as Selwyn College Choir, Kings College Choir, The Sixteen, and are regularly broadcast in the UK and the US.As well as music for a wide range of ensembles and soloists, he has also written much educational music, including the Joining the Dots sight-reading series, the Scale Explorer series (both ABRSM) and, jointly with his wife Janet, the Pianoworks series (OUP).He holds an ARCM from the Royal College of Music, a BMus from London University, an MA from Nottingham University and a DU (Honorary Doctorate) from Essex University, and he lives in East Anglia.

More Oxford Conversations

Episode 88: Music is Inherently Raceless with Theron Jenkins

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Episode 88: Theron Jenkins

When discussing how music and education intersects with race, gender and culture, I find that we are often pretty quick to apply reductionist labels to the idea or concept. For example, phrases I have come across too often include “That’s a boy’s song,” or “Choral Music is an inherently white art form,” or “sight reading is a European value in Music Education.”

If we label these things based on their past origins, are we sending unintentional signals to students about who is welcome NOW?

Now, it’s possible I spend too much time reading through comment threads in Facebook groups, but it raises the issue of the unintended consequences for students and educators when they see or hear such blatant essentialism, though often well intended. In the latest addition to my Choral Music: A Human Art Form thread, Theron Jenkins and I discuss this issue in hopes of bringing some alternative discourses to light for the purpose of making choral music more accessible and inviting to people from every background. After all, Choral Music does not inherently have a race, nor is group singing European. Music is INHERENTLY human. From all to all.

  • Literacy has value that transcends culture, and does not replace culture
  • Removing standards for honor choirs doesn’t help students
  • A well rounded music education can’t achieve all things for all people. Teachers must pick and choose with finite resources.
  • Representation matters!
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Episode 88 audio

Teacher Burnout Town Hall- Live Stream

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Teacher morale has reached a crisis point. If you’ve ever felt the crisis or seen the crisis, this episode is for you. In this Livestream episode I got input from some of my Patreon supporters, as well as people listening on Facebook which was fun, and kept the conversation spinning to topics of teacher pay, our attitudes toward our job, the role of having a “good boss” who treats the teacher as the expert and many other “usual suspects” that lead to burnout. In addition, I suggested that we look at two causes that almost no one mentions: Anxiety Contagion and Moral Injury.

Special thanks to Nathan Connell, Jeff Wall, John Sargent and Christopher Boemler for chiming in their ideas via Patreon.

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Live Stream!

Articles Referenced

Most recent post on burnout.

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