Episode 128: The Strange Relationship between Choral Music Ed and Vocal Ped with Dr. Sharon Hansen

One of the oddest things about Vocal Music Education as a profession, is how little we are required to learn in our schooling about the voice. Vocal Pedagogy courses are often the purview of voice performance majors, which is very odd considering how many more students will be impacted with vocal instruction by a person with a Music Ed degree. It is also odd considering that in many schools, vocal instruction is a key component of our course descriptions. Despite this seemingly obvious academic connection, a startlingly low number of music educators have taken any Vocal Ped, very little Voice Science is presented at conventions, and myths and misinformation litter the landscape of discussions and instruction about how the voice works. Dr. Sharon Hansen joins me to discuss this issue candidly, as well as a recounting of her battle getting ACDA to include the “On the Voice” column in the Choral Journal. You will be amazed to hear some of the reasons she was given for NOT including Vocal information in a Choral journal. An important episode that no one should miss.


Dr. Sharon A. Hansen is Professor and Director of Choral Studies, Emerita, at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. Widely known as a conductor and master teacher throughout the United States and in Europe, Hansen has conducted the Romanian National Radio Choir (Bucharest), the Gächinger Kantorei and Bach Collegium-Stuttgart (Germany), the Stockholm (Sweden) Conservatory Chamber Choir, the Moldavian and Oltenian Philharmonic Choirs (Iasì and Craiova, Romania), and the University of Regensburg (Germany) Symphony Orchestra. Ensembles under Hansen’s direction have appeared at state, regional, and national ACDA and NAfME Conferences, and she has served as guest conductor and clinician with all-state, all-regional, and select honor choirs in more than forty states.

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Hansen is the Founder and Music Director Emerita of the Milwaukee Choral Artists, a professional women’s vocal ensemble that left a legacy of some fifty commissioned, premiered, and published new works for treble voices. Hansen authored Helmuth Rilling: Conductor – Teacher, the definitive book on renowned conductor Helmuth Rilling, when she spent sixteen months in Germany singing with Rilling and the Gächinger Chorale. As contributing author for the 2009 book Wisdom, Wit, and Will: Women Choral Conductors on their Art, Hansen’s detailed chapter on the status of collegiate women choral conductors, “Women, Conductors, and the Tenure Process: What’s Up in the Academy?”, was the first such in-depth examination since 1988. She served as a member of the Editorial Board of the American Choral Directors’ Association’s Choral Journal from 1993–2018, where she was Founder and Editor Emerita of the Choral Journal article series “On the Voice,” which she curated for eighteen years. Because of her long-time passion for voice and choral music, she examined the history of voice education in the choral classroom in ACDA’s first 50 years, which is Monograph #18 in ACDA’s monograph series.

Hansen received the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association’s Morris D. Hayes Award, the Milwaukee Civic Music Association’s Excellence in Choral Music Award, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s highest meritorious honors for outstanding contributions to the choral art. Prior to her twenty years in Wisconsin, Hansen was Professor of Choral Music at the University of Northern Iowa, and a vocal music teacher in the public schools near Omaha, Nebraska. Now calling Arizona her home, she recently served as lead writer on the Hal Leonard–McGraw-Hill choral textbook series Voices in Concert, and as full-time Interim Director of Music and Arts at Pinnacle Presbyterian Church in Scottsdale. Presently, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Chapter of the American Choral Directors’ Association, and is the Chorus Conductor for the Arizona Musicfest Symphony Orchestra.

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