Episode 104: Don’t Abandon the Canon! With Dr. Anika Prather

Dr. Anika Prather

Like many topics in education, we have strains of the same philosophical divides in music education as we do in other areas of education. This week, my guest Dr. Anika Prather is the perfect person to address and offer a bridge to one of those divides. She has a background in both Music Education as well as Theater and Literature. In this episode we discuss educational philosophy related to the “Western Canon” in both literature and in music. Trying to make sense of the various approaches that range from “Classical Education” to the “Decolonize the Classroom” movement. The discussion centers around the idea that both extremes when taken as wholly sufficient philosophies miss some very important aspects of history. Maybe a hybrid approach is needed.

“If we are properly decolonizing education, it should change HOW we teach, not WHAT we teach.”

Dr. Anika Prather

No teacher can teach ALL of the repertoire from all of the cultures, and we shouldn’t lose sleep over it. What matters is that we instill curiosity in our students to go out beyond our classrooms and seek more.

Episode 104
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Dr. Anika T. Prather earned her B.A. from Howard University in elementary education.  She also has earned several graduate degrees in education from New York University and Howard University.  She has a Masters in liberal arts from St. John’s College (Annapolis) and a PhD in English, Theatre and Literacy Education from the University of Maryland (College Park).  Her research focus is on building literacy with African American students through engagement in the books of the Canon and self-published her book Living in the Constellation of the Canon: The Lived Experiences of African American Students Reading Great Books Literature recently.  She has served as a teacher, supervisor for student teachers, director of education and Head of School.  Currently she teaches in the Classics department at Howard University and is the founder of The Living Water School, located in Southern Maryland.  The Living Water School is a unique Christian school for independent learners, based on the educational philosophies of Classical Education and the Sudbury Model.  She is married to Damon M. Prather an engineer and has an MBA (Wisconsin-Madison). He also serves as the financial manager of the school.   She and her husband Damon, have three young children, and they reside in the DC metropolitan area.

Anika is also a performing artist and incorporates, music, drama and storytelling into most of her presentations. She has produced and written the songs for her 2 jazz albums and her music can be heard at https://soundcloud.com/anika_tene .

Visit Dr. Prather’s YouTube channel

Episode 103: Finding My Voice with Brittney E. Boykin

In Collaboration with Oxford University Press to Bring You Great Conversations

B.E. Boykin

In the next edition of the Oxford Series, I am excited to bring you a new voice in their catalog, Brittney E. Boykin. I had an open and refreshing conversation with her about her journey through the choral world as a conductor, teacher and then composer. Navigating life in the choral world as a Black Woman, cultural sharing vs. appropriation, the sea-change that was 2020, work-life balance and more. “When I think of diversity within the classical music world, there is diversity within sound, within ensembles, within colors.” – BE Boykin

Episode 103

Find Brittney on Graphite Publishing

When I think of diversity within the classical music world, there is diversity within sound, within ensembles, within colors.

B.E. Boykin

Find Brittney’s Publishing Company, Klavia Press

B.E. (Brittney Elizabeth) Boykin is a native of Alexandria, Virginia and comes from a musical family. At the age of 7, she began piano lessons and continued her studies through high school under the tutelage of Mrs. Alma Sanford. Mrs. Sanford guided her through various competitions, such as the NAACP’s ACT-SO competition where she garnered 1st place for 3 consecutive years in the local competition, as well as being awarded The Washington Post “Music and Dance Award” in the spring of 2007.”

Boykin then pursued her classical piano studies at Spelman College under the leadership of Dr. Rachel Chung. After graduating Spelman College in 2011 with a B.A. in Music, Boykin continued her studies at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey. During her time at Westminster, she was awarded the R and R Young Composition Prize just a few months shy of graduating with her M.M. in Sacred Music with a concentration in choral studies in May, 2013.

Enter Choralosophy at Checkout for a 5% discount when you shop for folders, robes and other gear for your choir program! www.mymusicfolders.com and www.mychoirrobes.com

Boykin’s choral piece, “We Sing as One,” was commissioned to celebrate Spelman College’s 133rd Anniversary of its founding at the 2014 Founders Day Convocation. She has also been featured as the conductor/composer-in-residence for the 2017 Harry T. Burleigh Commemorative Spiritual Festival at Tennessee State University. Boykin has been commissioned and collaborated with several organizations, including a number of ACDA divisions, the Minnesota Opera and the Kennedy Center. She obtained her PhD from Georgia State University with an emphasis in Music Education and is currently an Assistant Professor of Music at the Georgia Institute of Technology. 

Episode 166: A Day in the Life of a Choralosopher’s Rehearsal

Easily the most frequent request I get from the audience is for more teaching examples, rehearsal videos, samples, demonstrations etc. I have decided to stop dragging my feet about this and start creating more of this type of content. Due to the type of media it requires, I will be posting most of this on…

Episode 165: What IS Choral Music?

In this episode I draw on a few sources, including audience comments to present an advocacy conversation. To make the case for Choral Music classrooms, infrastructure support, and educational priorities. You will see or hear a video I made all the way back in 2012 in response to the popular TV show “Glee,” as well…

Episode 102: Belonging Isn’t Top-Down

A hybrid episode! We run the risk of oversimplifying educational concepts, packaging them in seminars and professional development sessions for sale, and actually HARMING students. Or at least not helping them. Educational theories often carry precious little evidence, but we as educators frequently feel ill equipped to question them. Often times these oversimplifications are simply Utopian visions of education. One of the buzzwords that gets this treatment in my view is “Belonging.” I have been reading a book called “Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity” by Cobb and Krownapple. In that journey, as well as in my conversations on the show, in real life, and online it has become clear to me that there are many questions still to be ASKED about this topic before we can even begin to have enough hubris to think we can answer it.

Chris Munce
Episode 102

This episode started out as a car thoughts episode, which I extended with a walkthrough of two graphics that I see as questionable from the book.

Enter Choralosophy at Checkout for a 5% discount when you shop for folders, robes and other gear for your choir program! www.mymusicfolders.com and www.mychoirrobes.com

Episode 162: The Problem with “Talent” with Joshua Mazur

This episode was a product of a submission on the main page here at Choralosophy.com. The prompt really grabbed me. Guest Joshua Mazur suggested that we need to have a grown up discussion about the way we in Music Education think about and use the word “talent.” I agree. From Joshua: “Our society approaches talent…

Episode 101: The Science of Program Building with Dr. Seth Pendergast

Dr. Seth Pendergast of Colorado State University joins me to dig through the critical aspects of recruiting and retention. As we are (hopefully) coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, my sense is that many K-12 choral music educators are looking to grow or rebuild their choral programs. The pandemic often limited singing and many choral music educators may have lost students over the past two years as they were limited in their vocal activities. We now enter a time where we have the opportunity to rethink our programs and their priorities. This also means that we have a high stakes need to get it RIGHT. The reasons that students engage in school music programs, or don’t is very complicated and nuanced. It’s more than having a donut party, and letting them sing their favorite music. We also need to explore and be creative with what music programs can look like in different TYPES of school environments. What does one research based approach say about this topic?

Dr. Seth Pendergast

Read Dr. Pendergast’s NAFME Article

Seth Pendergast is an Assistant Professor of Music Education at Colorado State University where he teaches courses in vocal music education, creativity and technology, graduate music education courses, and choral ensembles. He studies motivation and participation in the music classroom and his most recent scholarship includes publications in the Journal of Research in Music Education, Music Educators Journal, Choral Journal, and Update: Applications of Research in Music Education. In addition to his work as a teacher/scholar, Seth is an active clinician, conductor, and adjudicator. He completed his Ph.D. in Music Education at the University of Utah in 2018.

“The person doing the thinking is the person doing the learning.”

Alice Keeler
Episode 101

Find Seth on Twitter

Enter Choralosophy at Checkout for a 5% discount when you shop for folders, robes and other gear for your choir program! www.mymusicfolders.com and www.mychoirrobes.com

Episode 161: Where Has All the Polyphony Gone? with David Simmons Wood

Recently, David Simmons Wood made a splash by writing an article for Early Music America called “Toward a Rebirth of Renaissance Choral Repertoire.” In the article, David drew attention to what I see as a troubling gap in our collective repertoire and programming trends. Namely, the near disappearance of Polyphony from our performances, classrooms and…

Episode 160: Practical Vocal Acoustics with Kenneth Bozeman

I am excited to welcome Kenneth Bozeman to the podcast this week to blow your minds! Ken is a voice teacher, author and prominent lecturer presenting all over the world to help teachers of singing understand the importance of the marriage between voice science and the emotive capabilities of the human voice. I have frequently…

Episode 159: The Entrepreneurial Future of Choral Music with Ryan Main

Could it be that the new era of “the choral entrepreneur” is what we need to save Choral Music? After the pandemic, we have seen a resurgence of enthusiasm for Choral Music amongst the already initiated. But, program enrollments are down, concert attendance is down, positions have been cut, and conference attendance has not recovered.…