Episode 120: Jake Runestad Live in My Classroom!

In this episode, filmed in front of a “live studio audience” in the form of my students, I have the opportunity to sit down with one of our generations finest compositional voices, Jake Runestad. With the help of my students, we have a spirited conversation about the value and genesis of creativity, the special nature of the human voice as an instrument, the central importance of text in choral music as well as Jake’s advice for the next generations of composers and performers. The kids even through some surprise questions in there! I have enjoyed getting to know Jake over the last few years, and I know you will be just as impressed with the PERSON behind the music as I am.

Jake Runestad
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Episode 120
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Jake Runestad is an award-winning and frequently-performed composer of “highly imaginative” (Baltimore Sun) and “stirring and uplifting” (Miami Herald) musical works. He has received commissions and performances from leading ensembles and organizations such as Washington National Opera, VOCES8, the Swedish Radio Symphony, the Netherlands Radio Choir, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Seraphic Fire, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, and more. “The Hope of Loving,” the first album of Jake’s music, recorded by Craig Hella Johnson and Conspirare, received a 2020 GRAMMY® award nomination, and Jake’s ground-breaking choral symphony “Earth Symphony” garnered a 2022 EMMY® award nomination. Jake’s visceral music and charismatic personality have fostered a busy schedule of commissions, residencies, workshops, and speaking engagements, enabling him to be one of the youngest full-time composers in the world. Considered “one of the best of the younger American composers” (Chicago Tribune), Jake Runestad holds a Master’s degree in composition from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University where he studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts, in addition to formative mentoring from acclaimed composer Libby Larsen. A native of Rockford, IL, Mr. Runestad is currently based in Minneapolis, MN. Find out more at: JakeRunestad.com

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

Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.
Visit stageright.com for top of the line, affordable staging options like risers, acoustical shells and more!

Episode 119: Yes Middle Schoolers CAN! with Dale Duncan

In this episode I sit down with THE Middle School choir guru, Dale Duncan to talk about sweet spot for success in Middle School vocal music. Middle School Singers are often overlooked and underestimated. What they need is an educator that believes in them, and provides high quality instruction in a school that supports them. We talk about the balance between high expectations, trust building, pitch matching in puberty, motivation of middle schoolers, connection and belonging and how they all serve each other. Dale also shares a bit about what it is like to be retired, his favorite things about teaching Middle School as well as talks through some of its greatest challenges. We ranged a bit into other areas too like pre and post pandemic choral music, and education and some of the changes we have seen, as well as why years 20-30 can be the “prime years” for teachers.

Dale Duncan
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Episode 119
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com
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

Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

From Dale’s Website

I have taught middle school students for well over 20 years.  I currently teach over 340 un-auditioned choral students.  I have up to 84 students in one class by myself.  I could never have managed that as a young teacher, but along the way, I have learned several tips and tricks to help me successfully manage this age group of students in a positive learning environment.

Visit stageright.com for top of the line, affordable staging options like risers, acoustical shells and more!

I started my career in North Carolina where I taught for 5 years. In the beginning, I struggled enormously with classroom management.  My middle school students totally “ran over me”.  I was unstructured, inconsistent and ineffective.  I was discouraged and felt like a total failure.  I felt alone.  I thought often about quitting teaching and doing something else.  I was armed with a masters degree and absolutely no idea how to teach this age group.

I am not a quitter, so I kept going.  I observed other teachers, and slowly began to figure a couple of things out that helped me hang in there.

I continued my career in New Jersey for the next 6 years.  It was there that I saw an amazingly gifted choral educator who had created the most magnificent middle school choral program I had ever seen.  She graciously allowed me to observe her teaching a few times, and that was when things began to click for me.  I began to realize how to relate to and successfully teach this age group.  That is when my programs began to grow exponentially.

Episode 118: Leveling the Playing Field with Dr. Chantae Pittman

On this episode Dr. Chantae Pittman joins me in the ongoing conversation surrounding the philosophy of choral music education. Why are we there? What is our function? Just how critical is it that students who complete a term or more in vocal music in school are able to reach some level of music reading proficiency. Dr. Pittman outlines her daily routine in the classroom and describes how literacy fits in for her in the classroom. I have a wonderful opportunity here to bounce my ideas off of an accomplished colleague. Tune in and hear how Chantae’s band background informs her current vocal education background, and more. This episode was fun for me because I learn a lot from speaking with colleagues each week. Tune in and share that benefit!

Dr. Chantae Pittman
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Episode 118
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Dr. Chantae D. Pittman is the Director of Choral Activities at Campbell High School in Smyrna, GA in the Cobb County School District, and adjunct professor at Georgia College and State University. Dr. Pittman is passionate about all forms of music. She is a proud graduate of Tennessee State University having received her Bachelor of Science in Music Education in 2010. She has since earned a Master’s Degree in Music Education at VanderCook College University (Chicago, IL, 2013). In May 2021 Dr. Pittman graduated from The University of Georgia where she completed her Doctorate in Education with an emphasis in Choral Music Education. During her 13-year career in choral music education she has taught students from elementary through high school.

Due to that experience, and her demonstrated commitment to excellence in performance, she is highly respected as a choral clinician, music education consultant, instructor, grant writer, and adjudicator. She is very active as a soprano soloist and choral musician as a member of the Grammy award winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus since 2011, and the Atlanta Women’s Chorus since 2020. Having performed with orchestras, choirs, and small vocal ensembles throughout her career as a musician, Dr. Pittman proudly continues to learn, grow, and develop as a musician and pedagogue. She is a proud and active member of the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), National Educators Association (NEA), Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), Sigma Alpha Iota, Professional Music Fraternity, Inc., and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.
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

Visit stageright.com for top of the line, affordable staging options like risers, acoustical shells and more!

Find Dr. Pittman on Instagram

Episode 117: Finding My Voice with Benedict Sheehan

In this episode I have a chat with GRAMMY nominated conductor and composer, Benedict Sheehan of the St. Tikhon Monastery Choir. This passionate conversation begins with Benedict’s advocacy for people, like himself, who stutter. As you will hear, it is important that we remember that EVERYONE has something to say. We need only listen. We then discuss the ways the GRAMMY nominations changed his routine, his love of the Orthodox Church music tradition and how it has shaped his sound aesthetic. Finally, we approach the concept of the “composer’s voice,” and the importance of a frame of reference from which to approach the music. Tune in to hear these items and more discussed on the Choralosophy Oxford series!

Benedict Sheehan
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Episode 117

Composers Recommended by Benedict

  • Kurt Sander
  • Tikey Zes
  • Michael Adamis
  • Stefan Mokranjac

Two-time GRAMMY® nominee and American Prize-winner Benedict Sheehan has been called “a choral conductor and composer to watch in the 21st century” (ConcertoNet) and “a remarkable musician” (Choral Journal). He is Artistic Director and Founder of the Saint Tikhon Choir and Artefact Ensemble, and Director of Music at St. Tikhon’s Monastery and Seminary in Pennsylvania. His works are published by Oxford University Press and others, and his award-winning choral recordings and performances have received widespread critical acclaim.

Described as “an up-and-coming conductor” (The Oregonian), “a rising star in the choral world” (Catholic Sentinel), and as having “set the bar for Orthodox liturgical music in the English-speaking world” (Orthodox Arts Journal), composer and conductor Benedict Sheehan is Director of Music at St. Tikhon’s Seminary and Monastery in Pennsylvania, Artistic Director of professional vocal ensemble The Saint Tikhon Choir, and CEO and co-founder of the Artefact Institute, a collective of “culture creators.” Working closely with his wife Talia Maria Sheehan, a professional vocalist and visionary music educator, the Sheehans have become two of the most sought-after clinicians in Orthodox sacred music in America. Benedict has appeared frequently as a guest conductor with the professional vocal ensemble Cappella Romana, where his performances of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil had one reviewer so “emotionally overwhelmed” that she was “attempting to hold back tears” (Oregon ArtsWatch). In 2018 he was instrumental in producing the monumental world premiere of Alexander Kastalsky’s Requiem for Fallen Brothers (1917) at the Washington National Cathedral. The project culminated in a 2020 Naxos recording on which Sheehan served as a Chorus Master and an Executive Producer. Benedict is in high demand as a composer. His works have been performed by the Grammy-nominated Skylark Vocal Ensemble, the Grammy-nominated PaTRAM Institute Singers, Cappella Romana, the William Jewell Choral Scholars, Te Deum, the Pacific Youth Choir, and many others. His new work Gabriel’s Message was recorded and released in 2020 by John Rutter, Bob Chilcott, and The Oxford Choir. Skylark’s recent recording Once Upon A Time (2020) features a “story score” by Benedict which has been called “evocative” (Gramophone), “quite extraordinary” (Limelight), “brilliant” (MetroWest Daily News), and “otherworldly” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). His music is published by Oxford University Press, Artefact Publications, Musica Russica, MusicSpoke, and St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press. Benedict lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and seven daughters.

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com
Visit stageright.com for top of the line, affordable staging options like risers, acoustical shells and more!
Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.
YouTube Version
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

Episode 116: What is Our MAIN Job?

Is creating a welcoming, inclusive, fun, engaging and safe learning environment enough to be an excellent choir teacher? I say no. Is choir an activity or an academic course of study? You can get a PhD in it. It is an academic subject. In this episode, I “dialogue” with many of you who joined a fantastic collegial discussion about the soul and the future of our profession.

In a school setting, I actually think it is immoral to deprive students of a rich music literacy (reading) education, taught to proficiency.

Chris Munce

Me, “We need to teach literacy and vocal pedagogy as our core academic content. When kids feel confident in their abilities in these areas, they are more likely to enjoy choir long term and stick around. They are also more likely to feel like they belong because they know they can contribute.”

The claim

Straw man #1: “We need to obsess about sight reading, train little unfeeling machines who can read anything and have flawless techniques and sing like robots. It also does not matter if kids feel happy or like they belong in the class. If they aren’t good enough, we can just kick them out.” Y’all…Rigor and accessibility are NOT opposite sides of a coin.

Straw Man #2: “Those aren’t the only things that matter.” I didn’t say they were.

Straw Man #3: “But modern music notation is not used in all cultures, so by centering it in your curriculum, you are sending the signal that those cultures are inferior.” Well, you would have to be in my classroom to know that. And you aren’t. It is possible to make literacy a focal point, and have students still understand that it is one tool of many that are used to learn music.

And I haven’t even started talking about the neurological benefits yet… that’s where we get into moral imperative territory. In a school setting I think it’s actually immoral to deprive kids of this. I know…strong words…

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

It’s like youth sports. We could acknowledge that winning is more fun than losing. So it is important to teach kids to play the sport well so that they win more than they lose. It can be simultaneously true, that it’s not “all about winning“. There are other lessons to be learned by playing on a team. However, as the coach it would be ridiculous for me to say that the core part of my job is not teaching the fundamental skills of the game to beginning players. they learn the lessons of teamwork, and community etc. through learning the game, not separately.

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Ep 116
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

Visit stageright.com for top of the line, affordable staging options like risers, acoustical shells and more!
Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.

Episode 115: The A Cappella Revolution with Rob Dietz

A Cappella guru Rob Dietz joins me this week to tell his story of passion for the “Pop A Cappella” genre of ensemble vocal music. Rob is well known in this sub-genre of choral music for his work on “The Sing Off” and collaborations with groups as wide ranging as Pentatonix, to Flo Rida and Incubus. In this conversation, we explore the common threads of “A Cappella” and “Traditional” choral ensembles as well as what makes the small pop vocal groups special to Rob and the genre’s growing number of practitioners. We also discuss how choral directors, like me and many others who are NOT well versed in this style can effectively begin to expose our students to this outlet. Tune in and stay at least for the beatboxing demo! 😉

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Episode 115
Visit stageright.com for top of the line, affordable staging options like risers, acoustical shells and more!

Rob Dietz is a multiple CARA winning singer and vocal percussionist who has been arranging, composing, teaching, and performing contemporary a cappella music for over twenty years. Based in Los Angeles, Rob is best known for his work as an arranger and group coach for NBC’s The Sing-Off. Through his work on the show, Rob has had the pleasure of collaborating with some of the top talent in the vocal music world, including Pentatonix, Peter Hollens, The Filharmonic, Voiceplay, and many more. He has been a contributing arranger for performances by world renowned artists including Smokey Robinson, Flo Rida, Sara Bareilles, Incubus, and Pat Benatar. His arrangements have been featured on several TV shows, including America’s Got Talent (NBC), To All The Boys: P.S I Still Love You (Netflix), and Pitch Slapped (Lifetime).

Find Rob on Twitter or Insta at @rdietz55
www.sightreadingfactory.com is the best literacy tool on the market today. Enter Choralosophy at checkout to get 10% off memberships for you AND your students!

A native of Ithaca, NY, Rob got his start singing in high school as a member of the a cappella quintet, Ascending Height, with whom he wrote and produced the first ever album of all original music at the high school level. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in music and an outside field in business. While at Ithaca, Rob had the honor of directing the all male-identified group, Ithacappella, with whom he twice advanced to the finals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. He was also a member of both the Ithaca College Chorus and the Ithaca College Choir -the college’s select, touring vocal ensemble.

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

As a performer, Rob is an award-winning vocal percussionist, and his distinctive sound has been featured on several TV shows, including FOX’s Glee and The Late Late Show with James Corden. Rob was the founding vocal percussionist for both The Funx and Level, groups that gave him the opportunity to work with legendary performers including Jay Leno and Demi Lovato.

Rob has a deep passion for a cappella education, and is a founding co-director (along with Ben Bram and Avi Kaplan) of A Cappella Academy. In addition to his work with Academy, Rob is also the director of Legacy: an auditioned, community youth a cappella group based in Los Angeles. Since the group’s inception, Legacy has performed twice at Carnegie Hall, and has won the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival’s Scholastic Competition, the Southwest semifinal round of the Varsity Vocals A Cappella Open, and the Finals of the International Championship of High School A Cappella at Lincoln Center. Rob is a sought after presenter and clinician who has led vocal music workshops at events such as the National A Cappella Convention and the ACDA National convention. He is the author of “A Cappella 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Contemporary A Cappella Singing” available from Hal Leonard.

Receive 10% Discount on your orders at http://www.graphitepublishing.com where you will find the works of Jocelyn Hagen, Eric Barnum, Timothy C. Takach,
Paul Rudoi and MANY more.

Alongside his work in contemporary a cappella music, Rob is also an avid choral composer, with work published by Alfred Music Publishing and GIA Publications. In 2021 his piece “The Gift” received a jury commendation as part of the King’s Singers New Music Prize competition. His pieces continue to be performed by choirs from all over the world.

Mentioned in this episode

Car Thoughts: Thank you for your mistake

In this episode, I reflect on the psychology of gratitude, and on the importance of helping our students develop a healthy relationship with their own mistakes, and even flaws and weaknesses. Not because we don’t care about high achieving ensembles, but precisely for this reason.

Car Thoughts Episode
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Thank You for Your Mistake
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Episode 114: Boys Keep Singing! With Martin Ashley

A Choralosophy Oxford Series episode!

One of the most challenging aspects of being a teacher of singing is dealing with the male changing voice. Not only are we undereducated on the physiology of the issue, we are often inconsiderate of the psychology as well. In this conversation, I have called in a true expert to help us parse this out. Professor Martin Ashley is the editor-in-chief of the research journal of the Association of British Choral Directors, and has done EXTENSIVE peer reviewed work on not only the male changing voice during puberty and at all stages, but also the issue of the struggle to keep boys singing. Join us as we discuss an overview of the body and mind of the adolescent male singer, the issues that face choir directors in teaching during the change and much more.

Find Martin’s Series for Cambiata voices!

Martin Ashley
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Episode 114
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Martin Ashley is currently editor-in-chief of the research journal of the Association of British Choral Directors, having retired as Head of Education Research at Edge Hill University in 2013. Trained as a middle school music teacher, he worked in a variety of school settings before moving to the University of the West of England, gaining a post-doctoral fellowship for musical learning and boys’ understanding of voice. An AHRC funded collaboration with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and University of York resulted in significant outputs on “cambiata” and the adolescent male voice. He has published widely on singing during early adolescence, working with a paediatric specialist on the timing of puberty and voice change. He has published work on historical trends in puberty, Tudor pitch and the sixteenth century mean voice. His most recently published book was Singing in the Lower Secondary School for OUP and his forthcoming book is Dead Composers and Living Boys. In response to the covid pandemic, he assembled a small team of virologists and public health professionals to produce a rapid response review for ABCD and a smartphone app to monitor risk mitigation in choral singing, for which he received the Sir Charles Grove prize for outstanding contribution to the musical life of the country.

Mentioned in the episode

Car Thoughts: Back to School with No Masks and Normalizing Noise Making

Anxiety from within is normal. The belief that students can’t overcome the anxiety can often come from the teacher’s approach. It is critically important to normalize “singing without fear.”

In this car thoughts conversation, we reflect on starting the first “normal” school year in three years. This is a significant opportunity to return normalcy to our students of all levels. I also offer ideas for teachers to consider when thinking about the first days of school, as well ways to structure the first rehearsal’s priorities. How do we set up the expectations that lead to a successful school year?

Also included are ideas about back to school retreats, the CDC’s relaxation of Covid caution recommendations, and the importance of “normal.”

Make Singing Sounds with your Mouth Holes!
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Car Thoughts

It is important that your first day of school is dominated by singing.

Chris Munce
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com
JD Frizzell

Everyone CAN Get an A, But Not Everyone Will

A Summer Refresher on Grading and Assessment at Alabama ACDA

This episode is in many ways, the live presentation SEQUEL to Episode 21: Everyone Can Get an A.

In music Education, we frequently lament cultural attitudes about music not being a “real class.” If we present courses without rigor, academic standards or measurable achievements, we are walking right into that criticism. However, our jobs depend on enrollment numbers, and we feel pressure to give A’s. But, there is where we run into tension. If we make the grading more rigorous, many teachers fear, then kids will quit. In my experience, this is the opposite of what happens, provided that every student regardless of “talent” can see a realistic path toward getting an A. That does NOT mean they will all make the choice to rise to that occasion, however. You know what they say about leading horses to water… Join me as I outline my philosophy on program, culture and belonging building through increased standards and rigor. We have confused “rigor” with “talent” and “accessibility.”

Tune in for a presentation either audio or video complete with rubrics, grading practices, writing curriculum, grading on growth, setting individual goals for students and much more. For the FULL presentation, slides and ad free video, visit the Patreon.

Everyone Can Get An A, But Not Everyone Will
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Grading and Assessement

Past Grading and Assessment Episodes

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Episode 113: Are We Doing Anti-Racism Wrong? with Dr. Sheena Mason

*Racism* is the social construction that necessitates our continued & (mostly) blind belief in & upholding of “race” ideology & its correlated languages/practices. We just continue to fool ourselves into thinking that “race” is *just* “skin color,” phenotype, DNA, or culture.

Dr. Sheena Mason

With the rise of anti-racist discourse and initiatives, many people are unintentionally promoting racist ideas and missing opportunities to identify and celebrate functional diversity, or diversity of thought over perceived diversity based largely on phenotype and social constructions. Dr. Sheena Mason earned her PhD from Howard University. She is now at SUNY Oneonta in Oneonta, NY, as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in African American literature. Dr. Mason has been thinking about and working on ways to discuss race and racism in a way that she believes can move us in the right direction as a human race. Sheena and I discuss the ways these ideas could be the next evolution of race deconstruction in education and in culture. We also discuss how this can be accomplished WITHOUT ignoring the injustice that has flown from the belief in race.

Dr. Sheena Mason

The core tenets of the Theory of Racelessness are as follows:

  • Race does not exist in nature.
  • Race does not exist as a social construction.
  • Everyone is raceless.
  • Racism includes the belief in race as biological or a construction and the practice of racialization.
  • Racism is not everywhere and is not the cause for every perceived “racial” disparity or negative interaction.
  • Racism can be overcome.
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Episode 113

While not rooted in biology or science, she explains how the concept of race continues to be naturalized and viewed as something “of nature.” The camouflaging of racism as race remains, in large part, why many people and institutions have failed to partially, entirely, or meaningfully address racism even when actively participating in anti-racist efforts. Once liberated from race(ism), you will feel lighter, uplifted, seen, and valued.

Signs that Some Race Activism May be Misguided (If the shoe fits)

  • Does it insist that racial categories are real, useful, or impossible to rid ourselves of? (Making it seem as if the way a person looks is the most important part of their contribution.)
  • Does it seem to shy away from the celebration of progress?
  • Does it treat the world as if it is a fixed pie through the use of reductionist racial category quotas? (Black, White, Brown, Indigenous) or even worse, a racial binary? (white, non-white.)
  • Does it confuse or conflate real phenomena such as culture, class, ethnicity, and ancestry with the fiction of race? (Like co-equal humans, or as “avatars” for a racialized group?)
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

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Theory of Racelessness educates organizations & institutions on how racism masquerades as race in society.

PREORDER THE BOOK

Dr. Sheena Mason earned her Ph.D. in English literature “with distinction” in May 2021 from Howard University. She joined the faculty at SUNY Oneonta in Oneonta, NY, in August 2021, as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in African American literature. She has taught at the College of William and Mary, California Lutheran University, and Howard University. Her book titled Theory of Racelessness: A Case for Philosophies of Antirace(ism) is scheduled to be released by Palgrave Macmillan on September 23, 2022. Additionally, she co-authored “Harlem Renaissance: An Interpretation of Racialized Art and Ethics,” a chapter of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Ethics and Art examining what, if anything, is the proper role of race in the aesthetic productions of or about members of racialized populations.

Dr. Mason works actively to improve and free our language and, therefore, our thoughts. In “No Malcolm X in My History Text” (2018), she examines the iterations of the folklore figure Staggerlee, the figure’s relation to the public sphere, and racism. Ultimately, she concludes that Staggerlee persists in the American imagination and is a simultaneously and paradoxically subversive and stereotypical figure, highlighting the pervasiveness of racism and society’s response to racism. In her scholarship, Dr. Mason consistently and unwaveringly works to promote anti-racism through her publications and teaching.

Vist Dr. Mason on YouTube

Episode 112: Arts of Personhood and Shining Eyes

LIVE at Alabama ACDA

“Who am I being that my children’s eyes are not shining?”

Benjamin Zander

This week I had the honor and privilege visiting with ACDA members in Alabama at their state Conference. We must turn the mirror on ourselves to ensure that we are WORTHY to stand in front of our students. After all, we have some level of control over whether or not we are a part of their school. They have almost none. So I say, it’s on ME to make sure that their experience in my class is enriching, engaging and life affirming. In this discussion, we will discuss the importance of the teacher’s “mind, body and spirit” health. We also discuss the concepts of Anti-Fragility, and Cognitive Distortions that lead to unhappiness and professional ineffectiveness, as well as the wisdom of “The First Days of School” by Harry Wong. This is a jam packed hour full of challenges and ideas for you to consider before you begin your school year. The slides for this presentation are available on Patreon.

Chris Munce at Alabama ACDA
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Episode 112
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com
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

YouTube Version

Ep 111: The Righteous Musician with Reena Esmail

True diversity is the varied life experiences and cultural upbringings that lead us to our widely disparate moral “palettes.” As we gather together in classrooms, ensembles, businesses and organizations we talk a good diversity game. But rarely do we attempt to measure these things in our diversity matrix. This episode is a “Choralosophy Book Club” discussion about a book that gives us the tools to do just that.

Reena Esmail

Reena Esmail returns to the show to discuss the book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion” by Psychologist Jonathan Haidt. If you are interested in how YOUR mind brings you to your decisions about right and wrong, about good and evil and much more, then this book and this conversation is for you. Western philosophy has emphasized reason and logic over emotions for thousands of years. This tendency still prevails, but a growing body of research proves that emotions should no longer be regarded as secondary to logic.

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Episode 111

Moral judgments arise from our intuitions because humans are fundamentally intuitive, not rational. In addition, the reasoning that follows our intuitions does not work like a judge, guiding us to sober moral wisdom. It works more like a lawyer, justifying our moral judgments to others and ourselves, supporting our reputation and our self-interest.

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

If you want to persuade others, appeal to their sentiments.

If you want to win a moral argument, never say “you’re wrong.” You can never win someone over to your principles through purely rational arguments. Instead, if you want to persuade the other person, first of all smile and be a good listener. THIS is being an effective ensemble member, teacher and EVEN the path forward for more effective political activism. But it only works if you are genuinely able to hold the possibility that it could have been YOU that was wrong all along. Or, that there was never a “right” answer to be found anyway.

Discussed at the end of the episode.

Indian-American composer Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, and brings communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces. 

Esmail’s work has been commissioned by ensembles including the Los Angeles Master Chorale,  Kronos QuartetImani WindsRichmond Symphony, Town Music Seattle,  Albany Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta,  River Oaks Chamber OrchestraSan Francisco Girls ChorusThe Elora FestivalJuilliard415, and Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Upcoming seasons include new work for Seattle SymphonyBaltimore Symphony OrchestraSanta Fe Desert ChoraleAmherst College Choir and OrchestraSanta Fe Pro Musica, and Conspirare.

Esmail is the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s 2020-2023 Swan Family Artist in Residence, and Seattle Symphony’s 2020-21 Composer-in-Residence.  Previously, she was named a 2019 United States Artist Fellow in Music, and the 2019 Grand Prize Winner of the S & R Foundation’s Washington Award.  Esmail was also a 2017-18 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. She was the 2012 Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (and subsequent publication of a work by C.F. Peters)

Esmail holds degrees in composition from The Juilliard School (BM’05) and the Yale School of Music (MM’11, MMA’14, DMA’18). Her primary teachers have included Susan BottiAaron Jay KernisChristopher Theofanidis and Martin BresnickChristopher Rouse and Samuel Adler. She received a Fulbright-Nehru grant to study Hindustani music in India. Her Hindustani music teachers include Srimati Lakshmi Shankar and Gaurav Mazundar, and she currently studies and collaborates with Saili Oak. Her doctoral thesis, entitled Finding Common Ground: Uniting Practices in Hindustani and Western Art Musicians explores the methods and challenges of the collaborative process between Hindustani musicians and Western composers.

Episode 110: Creating Laboratories for Friction with Mónica Guzmán

Mónica Guzmán

Classrooms have become ground zero for the problem of political polarization. What is being taught, who is teaching it, how it’s being taught, how it is funded, etc. Are we teaching Critical Race Theory, or are we not? Should we be? If the Roe v. Wade case comes up, what is the teacher’s posture? These and many questions have become a toxic political football. The problem of this polarization impacts the classroom in a unique way largely because many people on all sides of political conversations do not want their children caught in the middle. As a result, I believe that teachers are morally bound to model curiosity, radical inclusivity of viewpoints, as well as the respect that most easily comes from “trying on each other’s shoes.”

Sadly though, our politicians, teachers unions and professional organizations don’t model this. We are swimming in almost an entirely politically homogeneous pool within the education profession. The problem is that our students AREN’T. It’s time for us to share the pool. I am joined in this talk by author and journalist, and recent TED Talker Mónica Guzmán to discuss why most of our assumptions about the beliefs of others are probably wrong.

We are so divided, we are blinded. Opening our eyes means being less certain, more courageous, and a LOT more curious about the views we don’t want to see.

Mónica Guzmán

A “laboratory for friction” is a term Mónica uses to describe the ideal classroom in which the educator has made the radically inclusive decision to intentionally create a space in which students are able to learn from each other through open dialogue and the safety to be the only dissenting voice.

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Episode 110
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Mónica Guzmán, author of “I Never Thought of It That Way,” is a bridge builder, journalist, and entrepreneur who lives for great conversations sparked by curious questions. She’s director of digital and storytelling at Braver Angels, the nation’s largest cross-partisan grassroots organization working to depolarize America; host of live interview series at Crosscut; and cofounder of the award-winning Seattle newsletter The Evergrey. She was a 2019 fellow at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, where she studied social and political division, and a 2016 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, where she researched how journalists can rethink their roles to better meet the needs of a participatory public. She was named one of the 50 most influential women in Seattle, served twice as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes, and plays a barbarian named Shadrack in her besties’ Dungeons & Dragons campaign. A Mexican immigrant, Latina, and dual US/Mexico citizen, she lives in Seattle with her husband and two kids and is the proud liberal daughter of conservative parents.

Sign up for a one year membership today and get a month free!
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

https://www.instagram.com/moniguzman

https://www.facebook.com/reclaimcuriosity

Two Other Episodes Related to Political Polarization in Education

Episode 109: Doing the Business of Choir with Alex Gartner

Do you think of yourself as a “choir leading business person?” I am going to guess that most of you don’t, and I’m going to suggest that maybe you should. There are aspects of leading any type of choral program that require business acumen in order to excel. This makes many of us bristle as artists because we love to stay wrapped up in the emotional and in the art. But the reality is that we often have to call upon skills that our training programs didn’t prepare us with. They didn’t teach us tax law, or marketing or accounting, but we have to develop these skills or our programs fall apart. So I had a conversation with Alex Gartner about that very thing. Tune in as we discuss the business of doing choir.

Alex Gartner

Find the Book!

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Episode 109
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

Sign up for a one year membership today and get a month free!
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Alex Gartner serves as the Artistic & Executive Director of the Pensacola Children’s Chorus in Pensacola, FL. Under his leadership, the organization has grown to impact nearly 25,000 individuals throughout Northwest Florida, including over 5,000 youth, through innovative programs, performances, and organizational practices. He also serves the American Choral Directors Association as the Children’s and Youth R&R Coordinator for the Southern Region, is an all-state coordinator for the Florida Music Education Association, and previously served on the national arts education council with Americans for the Arts. An active clinician, guest conductor, and composer, his arrangements are available through many reputable publishers. Check out his latest work on social media or at www.AlexGartner.com.

Episode 120: Jake Runestad Live in My Classroom!

In this episode, filmed in front of a “live studio audience” in the form of my students, I have the opportunity to sit down with one of our generations finest compositional voices, Jake Runestad. With the help of my students, we have a spirited conversation about the value and genesis of creativity, the special nature …

Episode 119: Yes Middle Schoolers CAN! with Dale Duncan

In this episode I sit down with THE Middle School choir guru, Dale Duncan to talk about sweet spot for success in Middle School vocal music. Middle School Singers are often overlooked and underestimated. What they need is an educator that believes in them, and provides high quality instruction in a school that supports them. …

Episode 108: Dropping the Covid Ball with Dr. Nikki Johnson

The Return of Covid Conversations!

Sadly, many of us in education have lived at the epicenter of the Covid Wars. Possibly the biggest political football during the pandemic has been what to do with the kids, and what to do with schools. For those of us in choral music, we lived at that intersection along with a hysteria created at first by our very own professional organizations. This contributed to a perfect storm of lost positions, cut programs, recruiting problems and a laundry list of misplaced apprehensions about singing. Facts that I am still not sure we have all come to terms with. Of course, it is important to remember that in this cross fire were students and community members displaced from life affirming and often life saving educational and humanizing opportunities. While it is always reasonable to weigh new risks against old norms, it is not reasonable to present our preferred policies as if they have no downsides worthy of heavy consideration. In this episode I speak with Pediatrician, and Covid Policy Advocate Dr. Nikki Johnson about the “Harm Reduction” approach to Covid Policy, the political blinders we all wore or still wear, and many errors in reasoning to which this contributed. One of the big errors singers have made is the role masks play in our safety.

Dr. Nikki Johnson

We also discuss the difference between a high quality signers mask designed to STAY ON while you sing… (Like the new Resonance 95 from MyMusicFolders.com Don’t forget to use your promo code!) and just wearing any old mask for any amount of time, flopping your jaw around willy nilly. Finally, we do a bit of prognosticating about ways to process in a more healthy way in the next wave.

A look back to this audience’s appeal to ACDA about Covid Messaging signed by over 250 colleagues.

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Episode 108

A rational approach to Covid policy for our schools and institutions is forward looking, measured and responsive to the most recent information and community health outcomes.

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

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com
Sign up for a one year membership today and get a month free!

Materials Referenced in the Episode

NYT Article Mentioned RE Mask effectiveness vs. Mask POLICY

The US was an outlier on School Closures

Early in the Pandemic, Europe Was Much Quicker to Get Kids Back to School

Urgency of Normal Toolkit

Episode 118: Leveling the Playing Field with Dr. Chantae Pittman

On this episode Dr. Chantae Pittman joins me in the ongoing conversation surrounding the philosophy of choral music education. Why are we there? What is our function? Just how critical is it that students who complete a term or more in vocal music in school are able to reach some level of music reading proficiency. …

Episode 117: Finding My Voice with Benedict Sheehan

In this episode I have a chat with GRAMMY nominated conductor and composer, Benedict Sheehan of the St. Tikhon Monastery Choir. This passionate conversation begins with Benedict’s advocacy for people, like himself, who stutter. As you will hear, it is important that we remember that EVERYONE has something to say. We need only listen. We …

Episode 107: Retention Matters MORE than Recruitment

Episode 107

Straight out of the archives! Most of my live presentations are reserved for Patreon Subscribers, but I felt so strongly about the ideas in this presentation, I decided to air it out for everybody. It is my belief that when we talk about building choral programs, or any program for that matter, we do WAY too much playing from behind and not enough building for the long haul. Are the numbers too low? Then surely we have to recruit! Well, we do, but if we are focused every year, every day on RETENTION, then we are saving for a rainy day. We become squirrels storing the nuts.

So, what are the The Missing Elements?

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Episode 107
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

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com
YouTube Version

Episode 106: If Every One Agrees, We Can’t Have the “Difficult Conversations” with Micah Horton

Many people think they are speaking truth to power, but they are really just preaching to the choir. This episode deals with the role of political discourse in the lives of all citizens, and educators in particular. The future of education is hanging in the balance right now as I see it, based on the highly charged political rhetoric related to public or state school governance, as well how these issues intersect with “the culture wars.” We can’t afford to oversimplify, or “Meme-ify” issues of Educational Equity, and access for students to high quality education. Micah Horton came in person to the studio, which always makes for an easier conversation. Often times, we buy in to the incentives of social media and signal our positions, rather than actually engaging in conversations about solutions. And sadly, the next generation sees our refusal to engage, and may be modeling it.

Micah Horton
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Episode 106

Micah Horton is the director of choirs at Olathe North High School and serves as the Director of Worship Music at Second Presbyterian Church in Kansas City. Micah holds a Masters of Music Education from the UMKC Conservatory, where his research focused on Demographics & Perceptions of Racial Diversity in Middle & High School Choir Programs. He also holds Bachelor’s degrees in Music Composition and Psychology from Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts. As a performer, he has been featured at state & national conventions, and has appeared on numerous recordings as both a vocalist and instrumentalist. He frequently gigs & accompanies on guitar, electric bass, and mandolin. Micah currently sings tenor with Te Deum and with the Tallgrass Chamber Choir. He has served on numerous building, regional, and state-level committees relating to DEI, teacher retention, and choral literature selection/performance practice. From 2017-19, Micah served as the Resource Chair for Multicultural Perspectives for the Missouri Choral Directors Association, and was the 2021 Prelude Award recipient for MCDA. He is a New Jersey native, proud husband & father, and a Philadelphia sports fan.

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com
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

Car Thoughts: Thank you for your mistake

In this episode, I reflect on the psychology of gratitude, and on the importance of helping our students develop a healthy relationship with their own mistakes, and even flaws and weaknesses. Not because we don’t care about high achieving ensembles, but precisely for this reason.

Episode 114: Boys Keep Singing! With Martin Ashley

A Choralosophy Oxford Series episode! One of the most challenging aspects of being a teacher of singing is dealing with the male changing voice. Not only are we undereducated on the physiology of the issue, we are often inconsiderate of the psychology as well. In this conversation, I have called in a true expert to …

Episode 105: Work Less Hard, Have Better Choirs

Sound too good to be true?

Well, it is if you are thinking that there is a quick and easy pill to swallow in order to get to that next level in your career. You know, the one where you simply, issue wisdom, wave your arms, say inspirational things, and the choir just SINGS! In reality, we all dream of this, but getting there isn’t easy. That’s why I can’t pull the trigger on selling the “Choralosophy Method” even though many have asked for it. I just don’t know if that would be ethical. Because fundamentally, we master our craft one tiny victory and defeat at a time. I truly believe that finding your groove in the classroom has more to do with the work you do on you than the method that you choose. It is the refinement and reinvention of our philosophies and practices that can make each year better than the one before.

In this episode, I will attempt to distill down what could be called the “Choralosophy Method” if I were to choose to sell it…and then let you listen for free. All of the episodes mentioned are linked below.

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com
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Episode 105
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 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.

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Episode 104
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

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.

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

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
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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

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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

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

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.”

Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

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. 

Car Thoughts: Back to School with No Masks and Normalizing Noise Making

Anxiety from within is normal. The belief that students can’t overcome the anxiety can often come from the teacher’s approach. It is critically important to normalize “singing without fear.” In this car thoughts conversation, we reflect on starting the first “normal” school year in three years. This is a significant opportunity to return normalcy to …

Everyone CAN Get an A, But Not Everyone Will

A Summer Refresher on Grading and Assessment at Alabama ACDA This episode is in many ways, the live presentation SEQUEL to Episode 21: Everyone Can Get an A. In music Education, we frequently lament cultural attitudes about music not being a “real class.” If we present courses without rigor, academic standards or measurable achievements, we …

Episode 113: Are We Doing Anti-Racism Wrong? with Dr. Sheena Mason

*Racism* is the social construction that necessitates our continued & (mostly) blind belief in & upholding of “race” ideology & its correlated languages/practices. We just continue to fool ourselves into thinking that “race” is *just* “skin color,” phenotype, DNA, or culture. Dr. Sheena Mason With the rise of anti-racist discourse and initiatives, many people are …

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
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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

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

Ep 111: The Righteous Musician with Reena Esmail

True diversity is the varied life experiences and cultural upbringings that lead us to our widely disparate moral “palettes.” As we gather together in classrooms, ensembles, businesses and organizations we talk a good diversity game. But rarely do we attempt to measure these things in our diversity matrix. This episode is a “Choralosophy Book Club” …

Episode 110: Creating Laboratories for Friction with Mónica Guzmán

Classrooms have become ground zero for the problem of political polarization. What is being taught, who is teaching it, how it’s being taught, how it is funded, etc. Are we teaching Critical Race Theory, or are we not? Should we be? If the Roe v. Wade case comes up, what is the teacher’s posture? These …

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
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Episode 101

Find Seth on Twitter

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com
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 108: Dropping the Covid Ball with Dr. Nikki Johnson

The Return of Covid Conversations! Sadly, many of us in education have lived at the epicenter of the Covid Wars. Possibly the biggest political football during the pandemic has been what to do with the kids, and what to do with schools. For those of us in choral music, we lived at that intersection along …

Episode 100: Sing Softer, You’re Off Key with Beth Munce

This episode is a milestone. The 100th full length episode of the podcast. Since my wife Beth was the FIRST guest on the show, I thought it would be good to go full circle, and bring her on again!

Being a music teacher is an important job. It is, or should be about SO MUCH more than the “collection and curation of musicians who are already good.” But how often is that our quickest route to career success? In this episode Beth and I take the gloves off and dive into the topic of the ways in which choir directors of all levels, with all of the best intentions, can often say or do things that either do not help singers become better, or even make the singer worse. “Raise the soft palette” when the problem is actually tongue tension. “Blend!
when the result is actually just removing resonance so you can no longer hear the problem. “Open your mouth to the size of the 3 Oreos” when every mouth is a different size, and much more.

Beth Munce

We also go a bit hard on the problems with ranking, or rating competitions for beginning singers. The systems, often governed by the same organization that governs basketball games in many places, can actually disincentivize quality feedback for singers.

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Episode 100

The Unique Nature of Singing by Beth Munce

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While many of my singing and teaching of singing philosophies and approaches have shifted or changed…some I would completely redo differently if I had the chance…one that hasn’t (and this is a hill that I will die on) is that there is a place in music for EVERYONE.

Sorry Trevor

The unique nature of singing is that 1) we all have a different instrument: everyone’s lung capacity, torso length, pharyngeal shape, tongue size, etc…are all different!! So there is not a one size fits all approach to singing. It is different for everyone. And everyone learns differently! Add that into the mix. Plus every person has to learn how to coordinate their muscles, where to feel resonance, how to learn to resonate effectively and efficiently, and how to adjust this approach when their bodies and hormones are changing. It’s a lot! Plus, 2) unlike starting piano or band where the first time you pick up an instrument is with your teacher (where they can tell you “put this hand here, this finger here…”) in choir, EVERY kid has prior experience in singing/phonation whether that be with the radio, with mom, in another choir, etc…some of these habits are good, some detrimental (don’t get me started on some of the bad singing examples on the radio!). The point being, you are having to redirect those already insulated neural pathways. Retrain those muscles. And this takes time and concerted effort. Some kids give up and don’t want to put forth the effort. I tell my students that learning to sing is like you are renovating a home as opposed to building one from scratch. And some houses need more work than others! 

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

Some of my proudest moments in teaching have been the kid whose mom thought he was “tone deaf” and he ended up being able to perform a solo successfully and make concert choir to be with his buddies…the girl who was the only one of her peers who auditioned for an honor choir her sophomore year and didn’t make it, who went on to make All-State choir her senior year…the boy who was so awkward and shy and could barely make a peep who went on to get a full ride scholarship in vocal performance and has had an active adult performance career. Those stories of hard work and perseverance are my favorite. The kid that didn’t think they could or was the underdog who worked their butt off and ended up excelling!!

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Beth’s previous appearances on the Podcast

Episode 1: Health Happiness and Balance for the Choral Director

Episode 8: Renovating the Voice

Episode 25: Loving by Letting Go with Jaclyn Johnson (Beth as Co Host)

Episode 99: The World Imagined with Gabriel Jackson

Part of the Oxford Series on the Choralosophy Podcast

Dig into the mind of Gabriel Jackson, one of my FAVORITE composers. His ability to mix the modern with the ancient really makes my “Spidey Sense” tingle! We discuss his music, and journey to composition, as well his feelings about Orchestral musicians seeming to live in a different strata from us lowly Choral musicians. Spoiler alert, we are both annoyed by this…We also touch on what the pandemic was like for him as composer, and the age old themes in music and poetry that retain their resonance today, and possibly in a new way.

You can’t write really difficult music and then complain that nobody performs it.

Gabriel Jackson

If you are in the US, check out Gabriel’s upcoming musical exploits! The US Premiere of The World Imagined! Concert in Elgin, Illinois. Find Gabriel’s catalog on his site!

Upcoming events involving Gabriel’s compositions. https://www.variantsix.com/new-suns

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Gabriel Jackson-Photo credit: Reinis Hofmanis
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Episode 99: Gabriel Jackson
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Episode 98: You Are Your Story with Brent Morden, Michelle Pollino and Angel Eduardo

A New Initiative from a New Organization: FAIR in the Arts is a program from the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism

We have to think about group identity and immutable characteristics, and how they shape our experience as humans in the world. We can’t ignore those things. But they are not the only things. We need to have a conversation about what we LEAD with in these conversations. Do we lead with the things we can’t choose about ourselves, or do lead with our common humanity. To me, it’s a question of seeing the human across from in our classrooms, our teacher’s lounges, or even on social media as complex and deeper than their appearance. My recent ChoralNet blog goes addresses this as well.

It is not enough to attack injustice. We have to cultivate justice. This STARTS with patience, humility and grace.

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Episode 98
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

On the Choralosophy Podcast I have spent a good deal of time and energy discussing the topic of “identity” in the arts, through a special category called “Choral Music: A Human Art Form” and how differing philosophies impact how the topic is discussed. In my view, there are major problems in the world stemming from philosophical illiteracy. Namely, what seems to be a lack of awareness that there are different ways to discuss societal problems, and how to move competently between them. As leaders of diverse groups, I see this is a non-optional skill for choral directors. We need to recognize that the centering of one’s immutable characteristics as the primary feature of one’s identity, is but one of many philosophies of finding or describing the “self.” Some find identity most strongly with their culture, nationality, religion, profession, school of thought, or even with the rejection of group identity itself. And that’s ok.

Senioritis vs. The Last Concert

I did a live episode recently on Teacher Burnout, and another one in December about teacher burnout leading up the Holiday Break, but STUDENT burn out is a thing too. Call it senioritis, or apathy, or “checked out.” Regardless of what you name it, it must be fought intentionally through the culture built in the rehearsal space from day one. So, in the death match between Senioritis and that LAST concert…

Car Thoughts without the Car

Who will win? It is not a lost cause. So, I went for a walk and recorded some thoughts about this phenomenon and how it has changed a bit due to the pandemic and collective trauma of the last two years. One thing that hasn’t changed is that there is no “cure” for end of the year apathy, but the effects can be mitigated by student buy in, leadership and empowerment. Are they pushing to the finish WITH you? Or are they being pushed BY you? The latter will lead to burn out for students and teachers alike.

This episode was recorded while I was walking outside on Spring Break. Please pardon the roosters and trucks. ACDA webinar I mentioned in the episode is linked below.

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Senioritis vs. The Last Concert
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

http://www.ryanmain.com is a great source of Sheetmusic on demand. Enter Choralosophy at checkout for 10% off!

See below for a list of Choralosophy Categories!

Episode 97: Intentions Matter with Emily Williams Burch

A Podcast Exchange!

Emily Williams Burch is back. What makes us tick? Can we be collegial without knowing each other? What was it like for me to traipse around uninvited at Southern Region ACDA? Why do in person conventions matter so much? These and many more questions answered!

Chris and Emmy
Finish the Episode on Emily’s feed!

A candid and jam-packed conversation between podcast hosts Chris Munce of The Choralosophy Podcast and Emmy Burch of Music (ed) Matters. We both love to chat, especially with each other, so in this conversation we cover everything from using enneagrams to understand motivation and impact our students, getting adventurous and attending other regional conferences, and all that comes with being “better conversation activists.” This one was super fun to record – hope you enjoy! Start the conversation here and finish it on Music Ed Matters!

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Emily Williams Burch
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

As promised, here’s the link to the awesome summer camp Chris and Emmy will be at together this summer. Grab a singer and come hang! https://kantoreikc.com/educational-outreach/

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/H2MsndIpdOA

It’s easy to support the podcast world and join the community over at Patreon.com/MusicEdMatters. In addition to bonus video and episode content, members get monthly meet-ups, monthly bonus episodes, special pre-release book content and more! Chris Munce has a dynamite Patreon page as well (and super cool swag), check him out at Patreon.com/Choralosopy

Support the companies that make The Music (ed) Matters Podcast possible: 

—Kaleidoscope Adventures – find your adventure today, kaleidoscopeadventures.com/

— The Kinnison Choral Company – check out their quality resources – or get your tracks made today – at KinnisonChoralCo.com

Episode 96: “Real Men” Sing? with Braeden Ayres

Dr. Braeden Ayres is a teacher, conductor and composer with a passion point related to concepts of masculinity in choral music. What stereotypes are we stuck too, what challenges to we face when discussing it, and what are the best ways to engage young adolescent boys in our school choral programs? We discussed some of the findings from his dissertation research on this topic as well as brainstorming ways to recruit and retain boys, without pandering to pre-conceived ideas of masculinity. Join us for this important discussion, and add your own thoughts on the Choralosophers Facebook page.

Episode 96
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Braeden Ayres

Find Braeden

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Dr. Braeden Ayres (“Bray-den Airz”) is a composer, conductor, and music educator who believes that music and singing are for all people. Dr. Ayres currently teaches music at Black Hawk College in Moline, Illinois, and is the choir director at First Christian Church in Macomb, Illinois. As an artist, teacher, and conductor, his mission is to empower people, explore the human experience, and celebrate the human voice as a tool for self-expression. As a composer, his works vary widely in style, with pieces written especially for changing voices, high school choirs, and collegiate, community, and professional ensembles. Dr. Ayres frequently writes original texts for his work as well.

Dr. Ayres’s music has been performed at national and state-level ACDA honor choirs, all-states, and at local choir concerts across the United States. His music is published with MusicSpoke, Carl Fischer, Hal Leonard Music, and Augsburg Fortress. In 2021, he was named the winner of the “Emily Crocker Emerging Composer Competition,” sponsored by the Texas Choral Director’s Association and Hal Leonard Music. Dr. Ayres holds a Ph.D. in Choral Music Education from Florida State University, where his doctoral dissertation studied the history and repertoire of choral compositions for changing male voices. Dr. Ayres also holds a Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Northern Colorado and a Bachelor’s in Music Education from Baylor University.

A look back to a related topic. “A Voice in Transition” with Theo Wren

http://www.ryanmain.com is a great source of Sheetmusic on demand. Enter Choralosophy at checkout for 10% off!

Before completing his doctorate, Dr. Ayres served on the vocal faculty at Discovery Canyon Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado, teaching 6-12 grade students with a team of exceptional educators. In his time at DCC, the campus’s choral program tripled to over 500 students; over 100 singers were accepted into various Middle School All-State, High School All-State, and ACDA National Honor Choirs; and the Performing Arts Department was a finalist for the “Thomas S. Crawford Team of the Year Award.” Dr. Ayres also served as the Assistant Artistic Director of “Out Loud: The Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus” and was an inaugural board member of the Colorado Middle School All-State Choir. Dr. Ayres is proud to bring his passion for education into his work as a composer and choral clinician.

Episode 95: Your School’s PD is Not Evidence Based with Dr. Kristina Mitchell

Teachers, this is the episode you want to send to your admin! “Hi, Dr. Principal. I listened do an expert on a podcast that says our new district educational model is not backed by evidence.” I’m sure they will be very excited…

Kristina Mitchell

Dr. Kristina Mitchell is an education researcher who specializes in instructional methodology. She also enjoys challenging the assumptions that many educators and school districts make when it comes to instructional scripture like “Learning Objectives,” and “Learning Styles.” (Both are steeped in mythology!) We get into the weeds of why providing robust evidence for these “Edu-Fads” is nearly impossible. Then we branch into the more general evidence problem in certain types of science, including masking science related to Covid. Somehow we end up on Critical Race Theory…

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Episode 95
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Check Out Dr. Mitchell’s Pocket Lab!

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Kristina Mitchell is an Instructor of Political Science at Texas Tech University.  She received her B.A. from the University of North Texas (2006), her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Dallas (2010; 2012).  Her research interests include gender and diversity, pedagogical technique, best practices in higher education, and issues in international relations.  Her research has appeared in the Journal of World Trade, PS: Political Science & Politics, and the Journal of Political Science Education.  She teaches undergraduate courses in research methods, game theory, public policy, international relations, and international political economy.

@drmitchell123

Teaching the difference between original research and secondary research would help a lot! #education #teachersoftiktok #teachersof2022 #research #teacher #professor #teaching

♬ original sound – Dr. M

Episode 94: Singing High, Singing “Us” with Patrick Dailey

Patrick Dailey

An episode inspired by the Oxford Handbook of Vocal Studies by Dr. Alisha Jones called “Singing High: Black Countertenors and Gendered Sound in Gospel Performance.” The article dropped into my email box and I immediately thought, THIS is a podcast. I was so right. Patrick’s story is not only fascinating, but his experience is emblematic of the intersectional concept. Namely, that Patrick’s race AND sexuality impact the way audiences receive him. The perceptions constantly swaying between “singing high like a woman” to presenting as the “Good Baptist Man.” You also appreciate the in depth discussion of the history of music in the Black Church in America. Join me for this enlightening conversation as Patrick shares his story, and reflects on the article.

The fact of the matter is that you are already gonna present something—even if it
is in the classical audience—you are already gonna present something to them
that might be foreign to them already. You don’t wanna turn them off at the very
beginning.

Patrick Dailey (Quoted in the paper by Dr. Jones)
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Episode 94
Celebrating Black History Month

Patrick Dailey has been described as possessing “a powerful and elegant countertenor voice” (Los Angeles Daily News) and a “VOCAL STANDOUT” (Boston Classical Review). His artistry was identified early through the national NAACP ACT-SO Competition (2005 and 2006), the NFAA ARTS, and Grady-Rayam Prize In Sacred Music of the Negro Spiritual Scholarship Foundation. Dailey made his professional operatic debut with Opera Saratoga as the first countertenor member of the company’s Young Artist program and was the first countertenor invited to Opera New Jersey’s Victoria J. Mastrobuono Emerging Artist program. Operatic repertoire includes Oberon in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nerone in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Belize in Eötvös’ Angels in America. He performs regularly with Harlem Opera Theater, ALIAS Chamber Ensemble, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and has appeared with the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra (NC), Soulful Symphony, Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. On January 19, 2009, Mr. Dailey sang a featured duet with Aretha Franklin as the finale for the annual Let Freedom Ring Celebration at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Additionally, he has been a featured artist with Cook, Dixon, and Young (formally Three Mo’ Tenors) since 2012. 

The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Mr. Dailey his west coast operatic debut as Satirino in Cavalli’s La Calisto with Pacific Opera Project of Los Angeles in 2014. The following year, he debuted with Opera Memphis in their historic first production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and ‪won first place in Opera Ebony’‬s 1st Benjamin Matthews Vocal Competition. Later that year, Mr. Dailey performed the opening invocation for the ‪2015 Trumpet Awards in Atlanta, GA, ‬the invitation of Trumpet Foundation founder/CEO and Civil Right legend, Xernona Clayton. 

YouTube version

In the summers of 2015 and 2016, Mr. Dailey was a young artist with the American Bach Soloists. Soon after he sang the world premiere Frederick Douglas: The Making of an American Prophet composed by Grammy Award winning country songwriter Marcus Hummon and debuted with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Robert Moody. Additionally in 2016, Mr. Dailey made international debuts in the UK and Brazilian premieres of Hasse’s Marc’Antonio e Cleopatra with the Woodhouse Opera Festival and Il Festival de Ópera Barroca de Belo Horizonte and he made his Subculture NYC debut at the invitation of Tony Award winning composer Jason Robert Brown as a part of Brown’s broadway cabaret residency. In the spring of 2017, he debuted with Opera Louisiane as Telemaco in Michael Borowitz’s world premiere jazz-gospel orchestration of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and debuted with the Grand Rapids Symphony singing Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms under the baton of Michael Christie. Soon after, Mr. Dailey returned to the U.K. that fall for the international premiere of Soosan Lolavar’s I.D. Please in the Tete a Tete New Opera Festival in London. In the fall of 2018, he sang the role of Mini-B/Boris the Boar in the world premiere of Dan Visconti and Cerise Jacobs’s Permadeath: A Video Game Opera with White Snakes Projects in Boston, MA to great acclaim. Mr. Dailey became the first countertenor to appear with Shreveport Opera singing Kyle in Robert Paterson’s Three Way: Masquerade in 2019. The remainder of his 2018/2019 season included debuts and appearances with the Austin Baroque Orchestra the IRIS Orchestra of Memphis, TN, Music By Women Festival, and Boston Early Music Festival. Since then, Mr. Dailey made debuts with the Chicago Philharmonic and Missouri Symphony, was a featured soloist at the 2020 ACDA Southern Regional Conference, and debuted at the historic Ryman Auditorium.

Find Patrick on Social Media

Mr. Dailey is featured in Fatherhood, a documentary directed by award winning London based director, Ben Gregor, which premiered on FUSE TV in 2019. He is also a featured on recording projects such as the debut album of acclaimed duo and super producers Louis York (Chuck Harmony and Claude Kelly), American Griots (2019), Adrian Dunn’s Redemption Live in Chicago (2020), and the self-titled release from The Aeolians of Oakwood University under the direction of Dr. Jason Max Ferdinand (2020). 

The William Crimm Singers

Growing in his reputation as a scholar, Mr. Dailey was invited to the Center for Black Music Research’s inaugural Black Vocality Symposium in 2013 giving a performative presentation entitled “The Anatomy of the Black Voice: Peculiarities, Challenges, and Regional Differences”. Since that time, he been Artist-in-Residence, masterclass clinician, and guest lecturer at Southern University, Prairie View A&M University, the University of Arkansas, and Vanderbilt University among others. Mr. Dailey was lead soloist and vocal music curator of the official MLK50 Commemoration at the National Civil Rights Museum in 2018 in Memphis, TN. In the fall of 2019, he presented at the inaugural Harry T. Burleigh Week organized by the Burleigh Legacy Alliance of Burleigh’s hometown of Erie, PA and regularly presents lectures and programs in conjunction with the organization. In June 2020, Mr. Dailey curated and presented a virtual clinic and webinar entitled “A Stirring in My Soul: The Negro Spiritual and Social Justice Movements” presented by the National Museum of African American Music. 

Mr. Dailey is a 2012 graduate of Morgan State University and received his master of music from Boston University. He currently serves on the voice faculty of Tennessee State University where he established the Big Blue Opera Initiatives (BBOI) and the annual Harry T. Burleigh Spiritual Festival. Additionally, he is the founding artistic director of the W. Crimm Singers (aka Wakanda Chorale), professional ensemble in residence of BBOI, and is a co-founding member of historically informed progressive, crossover ensemble, Early Music City. 

Mr. Dailey serves on the boards of ALIAS Chamber Ensemble, the International Florence Price Festival, Nashville Rep, and the Artistic Planning Committee of the Nashville Symphony. He also serves as community project curator with Intersection Contemporary Music Ensemble and arts and creative arts coordinator of the NAACP-Nashville Branch. A passionate advocate for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, he is a consultant on HBCU initiatives with Opera America, Early Music America, and New Music USA and is an artist ambassador of the Music Inclusion Coalition. He is on the faculty of the Narnia Festival of Narni, Italy leading a program on African American Concert and Sacred Music, and is the program director of the Nashville Opera- Big Blue HBCU Fellowship, an HBCU initiative of the the company in partnership with TSU. Most recently, Dailey was named to the 2020 class of the Nashville Black 40 Under 40 and he was recognized for Outstanding Service from the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts of Washington, DC. Additionally, he is a 2020 recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Mr. Dailey holds membership in the National Association of Negro Musicians, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, inc

Episode 93: Togetherness Activists with Micah Hendler

The Third Anniversary Episode of the Choralosophy Podcast!

The serendipity of having this episode ready to publish this week, on the third anniversary of the show is incredible. After all, three years ago I was motivated to launch this show because I saw a need stemming from how divided we were becoming as a nation. In the music world, we are more polarized than many due to political alignments and loyalties.

Episode 93

Micah Hendler is the director of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus, whose mission is the bringing together of Palestinian and Jewish children together to make music and make connections. He is also a member of the music team at Braver Angels, which is a non-partisan organization that creates events and content designed to bring Republicans and Democrats together. His entire musical identity has been built around the idea that music CAN bring people together that often think they will never reconcile.

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Micah Hendler
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Micah Hendler (Forbes 30 Under 30 for Music) is a musical changemaker working to harness the power in each of our voices to make a difference.

Micah is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus, an Israeli-Palestinian music and dialogue project featured for its innovative musicianship and integrity of purpose and process from the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to the New York Times. Through the co-creation of music and the sharing of stories, the chorus empowers young singers from East and West Jerusalem to speak and sing their truths as they become leaders in their communities and inspire singers and listeners around the world to join them in their work for peace, justice, inclusion, and equality.

Search the library, own the PDF. Use your Choralosophy discount code for 10% off!

Micah is a Founding Partner of Raise Your Voice Labs, a creative culture transformation company that helps organizations, companies, and communities realign and reengage around a shared vision and build cultures of resilience, adaptability, inclusive leadership, and supportive accountability. In the Lab, any team can unleash their creative and collaborative abilities, as they work together to reimagine what is possible and create a stunningly honest and inspiring video that can serve as a musical north star in their pursuit of that future.

Micah has founded, directed, sung with, or played with dozens of musical ensembles of varying global styles, including the Yale Whiffenpoofs. He has studied Community Singing and CircleSinging with GRAMMY-winning composers Ysaye Barnwell and Roger Treece, and uses these two methodologies and others to open up the concept of what a chorus can do and who should be in it.

Micah has also been involved in dialogue work for more than 15 years and has written and presented in many local and global forums about his work with the Jerusalem Youth Chorus, including sharing the keynote presentation of the East-West Philosophers’ Conference with leading Palestinian intellectual and peacemaker Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, as they explored together how sound can be used as a tool to create shared spaces in Jerusalem.

Micah writes for Forbes.com on music, society, and social change in a global context and serves in volunteer leadership capacities in both the Justice Choir and Braver Angels grassroots movements. He currently lives in Washington, DC.

Episode 92: Live at Missouri Music Educators

LIVE conventions are back! I am so excited, because this online thing does not do it for me. So, I was itching to talk to people! So, I traveled with a portable kit to get the opinions and stories of people at the the convention. It was great to talk to college professors, band directors, and choir directors on the convention floor!

Episode 92

Special thanks to all of the guests! Kurtis Heinrich, Kimbery Guilford, Caleb Zustiak, Ian Colemen, Christopher Boemler, Skip Vandelicht, David Schatz, Tom Higgins and Jane Hicklin.

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Live at MMEA!
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com
YouTube Version!

Episode 91: Music is My Culture with Trevor Weston

You need to create music that reflects you. Start with who you are. I tend to tell students not to filter out aspects of their lives from their music. If you start with who you are, then you are the only one who can come up with the best solutions.

Trevor Weston
Trevor Weston

Trevor Weston is a singer, organist, composer and professor of composition and African American Music History at Drew University. We discussed how music, culture and society intersect, as well as the importance of making distinctions between race and culture in the context of music. Often times, our musical experiences, our backgrounds, and our education creates our culture. We share more of that that we realize with more people than we realize. One of Trevor’s learned life lessons involves recognizing the power music has to connect to our common humanity and experiences. Don’t miss this insightful and uplifting episode.

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Episode 91
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

Trevor Weston’s music has been called a “gently syncopated marriage of intellect and feeling.” (Detroit Free Press) Weston’s honors include the George Ladd Prix de Paris from the University of California, Berkeley, the Arts and Letters Award in Music and a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and residencies from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the MacDowell Colony and a residency with Castle of our Skins at the Longy School of Music. Weston co-authored with Olly Wilson, chapter 5 in the Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington, “Duke Ellington as a Cultural Icon” published by Cambridge University Press. Weston’s work, Juba for Strings won the Sonori/New Orleans Chamber Orchestra Composition Competition. Trevor Weston won the first Emerging Black Composers Project sponsored by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the San Francisco Symphony. 

YouTube version

A list of ensembles performing Trevor Weston’s compositions include Roomful of Teeth, The Boston Children’s Chorus, St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue Choir, The Starling Chamber Orchestra, Mallarme Chamber Players, The Providence Singers, Chicago Sinfonietta, Seraphic Fire, The Tufts Chamber Chorus, Ensemble Pi, The Amernet String Quartet, The UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus, The Washington Chorus, Trilogy: An Opera Company, and The Manhattan Choral Ensemble. In addition to his creative work, Weston completed the re-orchestration of Florence Price’s Piano Concerto for the Center for Black Music Research in 2010.

Episode 90: Sound Before Sight with Carol Krueger

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

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

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.

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Episode 88 audio

Teacher Burnout Town Hall- Live Stream

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.

YOUR 10 Favorite Episodes of 2021

John Rutter, JD Frizell, Odell Ziegler, a Newsweek writer and an Epidemiologist walk into a bar…

What do all of these people have in common? They, along with several others, have made the Choralosophy TOP 10 of 2021. The episodes and post that created the most buzz this year are listed, linked and reviewed below!

John Rutter, on the Oxford Series, comfortably nailed down the top episode of the year. Shared hundreds of times as thousands tuned in to the choral legend’s wise words and delightful optimism and wisdom.

The rest of the episodes are listed in no particular order, partly because it was difficult to distinguish them, other than the seemed to drum up more interest than a typical episode. One of the many things I love about the Choralosophy audience, is that the diversity of topics on the list doesn’t surprise me at all. Podcast listeners tend to be voracious consumers of thought provoking and wide ranging conversations.

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Top 10 2021 in Review!

Top 10 episodes covered music literacy, the educational/choral community’s bungled response to Covid, crafting a conductor’s credo, political polarization, authentic communication in performance, and the nation’s racial divide.

Click the image below to find the episode!

Other highlights from 2021 included the show cracking half a MILLION downloads and streams as well as inching into the top 1.5% of all global podcasts. Thanks for listening, and keep the conversation going!

YOUR 10 Favorite Episodes of 2021

John Rutter, JD Frizell, Odell Ziegler, a Newsweek writer and an Epidemiologist walk into a bar…

What do all of these people have in common? They, along with several others, have made the Choralosophy TOP 10 of 2021. The episodes and post that created the most buzz this year are listed, linked and reviewed below!

John Rutter, on the Oxford Series, comfortably nailed down the top episode of the year. Shared hundreds of times as thousands tuned in to the choral legend’s wise words and delightful optimism and wisdom.

The rest of the episodes are listed in no particular order, partly because it was difficult to distinguish them, other than the seemed to drum up more interest than a typical episode. One of the many things I love about the Choralosophy audience, is that the diversity of topics on the list doesn’t surprise me at all. Podcast listeners tend to be voracious consumers of thought provoking and wide ranging conversations.

https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/2021-Top-10.mp3
Top 10 2021 in Review!

Top 10 episodes covered music literacy, the educational/choral community’s bungled response to Covid, crafting a conductor’s credo, political polarization, authentic communication in performance, and the nation’s racial divide.

Click the image below to find the episode!

Other highlights from 2021 included the show cracking half a MILLION downloads and streams as well as inching into the top 1.5% of all global podcasts. Thanks for listening, and keep the conversation going!

Performance is Virtuous, Unmasked Concerts and Teacher Burnout

Perform! And be proud of it!

Audiences NEED us this Holiday season. Our singers need to perform. Children need to see smiles. We inject so much joy into the world when we perform. In this short episode I discuss a few topics briefly that I felt the need to get off my chest. Including the critical nature of performance, of choral music as an art form, as well as the value of seeing faces. We have had good reason over the last couple of years to rationalize these things down the scale of importance, but it’s time to reevaluate that.

Car Thoughts!

I also talk about my thoughts related to teacher burnout that are a bit outside of the mainstream discourse. “Moral Injury” is a relatively new term that I believe applies to many teachers over the last year. Tune in to join the conversation.

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Perform! And be proud of it!
Visit my BRAND new Amazon Influencer Page. More lists and ideas coming soon!
Source: CIDRAP

By the way, I am back at it with a full concert season, and it feels great! I’m even giving performances with mostly unmasked choirs! I am excited about this, and am looking forward to the connections we will make as a result.

Introducing the Resonance 95!

Enter Choralosophy at checkout to get your discount every time you purchase!

The Resonance-95 mask is made of three layers, and includes a middle layer of non-woven polypropylene filtration fabric through out the mask. The Resonance-95 mask filters aerosols down to 0.2 microns with a 98-99% efficiency, and meets or exceeds the new ASTM F3502-21 standards for Barrier Face Coverings. It also meets the Respirator N95 Precertification Tests for NIOSH  which we will continue to pursue as we have to submit samples from several production lots before final certification is assigned. We have had this mask tested at Nelson Labs in Utah and provide the test results in these images. 

In addition to filtration efficiency, mask “fit” is very important for protection. Our mask holds snugly to the face, extends under the chin, and seals completely across the cheeks and nose with a bead of silicone beneath the extended malleable wire. This helps with fogging glasses, but also “proves” the seal helps contain exhaled aerosol particles (which carry viral particles if the person is infected or asymptomatically carrying the disease). The Resonance-95 mask is hand-washable and hang-to-dry.

Episode 87: Demystifying Pitch Matching Struggles with Don Brinegar

One of the most COMMON questions to pop up, almost weekly, on choir director Facebook groups is “what do I do to help these (usually boys, not always) match pitch?!” It is usually a panic induced, “I’ve tried everything” kind of post. This short episode brings in the expert, Donald Brinegar, choral director, professor and author of the book “Pitch Perfect: a Theory and Practice of Choral Intonation. There is a lot of mythology surrounding this topic, so take 20 minutes and demystify! Tune in for an explanation of Rainbow Ears, Frozen Vocal Folds and audiation with their “young child” voice, and more.

Donald Brinegar
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Episode 87
Be sure to check out Don’s previous appearance, and his bio.

Find “Pitch Perfect” by Donald Brinegar on Amazon! or on his website.

YouTube Version

Episode 86: All Students DESERVE Music Literacy with Odell Zeigler IV

An Unconventional Approach to the Urban Choral Classroom

I believe one of the biggest goals is getting the students interested in singing choral music before we start trying to operate out of formality. How do we get students interested in something they are not familiar with?

Odell Zeigler IV
Episode 86

Recently, I came across a shining light of logic, compassion and advocacy in the form of a ChoralNet article by Odell Zeigler IV. The article was shared far and wide, and it became clear to me right away that these ideas needed to be amplified on the show. I encourage you to read his short article, linked above, and THEN listen to this episode. I believe that this topic is critically important right now as we continue to grapple with what it really means to move the music education world in a more equitable direction. Are we focused on processes and root causes leading to improved outcomes later? Or are we focused on outcomes now while glossing over the processes? I appreciated Odell’s take as I read with excitement because he brings process solutions to the table, which is what we desperately need. Do you have students that aren’t comfortable using solfege, or singing with certain vowel formants? Don’t give up on them, or worse fall into the trap of “this isn’t for them!” They deserve a rich education, and all of its inherent challenges and opportunities for growth.

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Episode 86
Tune in!

He has since dedicated his life to inspiring the next generation of young music educators. As a music teacher himself, he understands the impact his words and actions have on a new class of great musicians and hopes to pass along his empathetic approach to education.

Odell wouldn’t be here if he didn’t live and breathe music, but his true passion lies in building leaders for tomorrow. From every live performance to his work in the classroom, Odell works to move others forward so they can one day do the same.

Episode 85: “Exploring the Choirs of Europe” with James Whitbourn of St. Edmund Hall

Next stop, Oxford University and St. Edmund Hall. Betsy and I are joined by composer, conductor, teacher James Whitbourn. Or as he describes himself, a musician. We discussed the Oxford system of colleges and the wide range of choral opportunities it provides. I was fascinated by this because I had never taken the time to wrap my head around the fact that “choral music at Oxford” does not mean one monolithic thing. The diversity of approaches, philosophies and reasons for being for choral groups at Oxford is remarkable, providing students of many interest and skill levels an opportunity to make singing a part of their student experience. In addition to being a composer well known to American choral audiences for the GRAMMY nominated Williamson Voices recording of his Annelies, as well as many other fine works, James is the director of choirs at one of those myriad Oxford choral programs. Join us as we dig into his world and discuss their model for auditions, his philosophy on what it means to be a well rounded musician, the value of the “live and unplugged” choral art form and more!

Episode 85
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Episode 85

James Whitbourn is an internationally-renowned composer recognised by The Observer as “a truly original communicator in modern British choral music”. A graduate of Magdalen College, University of Oxford, his career in music began in the BBC, for whom he has worked as composer, conductor, producer and presenter. His compositional output is admired for its direct connection with performers and audiences worldwide and for its ability to “expand the experience of classical music beyond the edges of the traditional map of classical styles” (Tom Manoff, NPR).

His largest composition is the concert-length choral work Annelies, the first major choral setting of The Diary of Anne Frank. Other notable works include Luminosity, written for Westminster Choir College and the Archedream dance ensemble, the Son of God Mass for saxophone, choir and organ and The Seven Heavens for choir and orchestra – a portrayal of the life of C. S. Lewis in the imagery of the medieval planets. His varied output includes several works written with and for his friend the late Robert Tear and works commissioned for the enthronement of the Bishop of Salisbury, an Easter Day Festival at King’s College Cambridge and the 1400th anniversary of Rochester Cathedral. He has also collaborated with former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, Michael Symmons Roberts and Desmond Tutu.

YouTube!

His choral works have been performed in many prestigious venues, and have been presented on acclaimed recordings, including six complete discs of his choral music. Of the latest of these – Annelies (Naxos) – Gramophone writes “the greatest accomplishment here is that James Whitbourn has written some music of great beauty”, Choir and Organ adding, “Whitbourn’s devastatingly beautiful and restrained treatment of the subject matter makes it all the more poignant”. His first Naxos Disc Luminosity reached No. 3 on Classical Billboard and of the “stunning music” heard on Living VoicesChoral Journal promised that listeners “will be transformed by the sheer beauty of the sonic experience”.

Join group on FB for details

The greater part of his compositional output is in vocal and choral music, but his range of style incorporates the lush symphonic scoring heard in his early BBC landmark series Son of God (whose seminal themes form his best-known work, Son of God Mass, for choir, saxophone and organ) and the inventive orchestral textures of Annelies. His orchestral commissions include the award-winning work Pika, based on the bombing of Hiroshima, one of three large-scale compositions for symphony orchestra written with the poet Michael Symmons Roberts and performed by the BBC Philharmonic, who have also recorded many of his television scores. 

Annelies, a concert-length work for soprano soloist, choir and ensemble, exists in two scorings, the larger of which – for symphony orchestra – was premiered by Leonard Slatkin at London’s Cadogan Hall in 2005. The work went on to receive its US premiere in 2007 and was premiered in a new chamber version by violinist Daniel Hope and American soprano Arianna Zukerman at The Hague, Netherlands, on Anne Frank’s 80th birthday in 2009. Its libretto is drawn from the Diary of Anne Frank, crafted into a new translation by Melanie Challenger.

His choral works have been performed on every inhabited continent of the world, especially in North America and mainland Europe. He enjoys a close relationship with Westminster Choir College, Princeton, who have performed several concerts of his music and where he has served as Composer-in-residence. He also has a special relationship with the Choir of King’s College Cambridge with whom he has worked for more than twenty years and for whom he composed the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis collegium regale premiered in Easter Day 2005.

Whitbourn has been commissioned to compose the music to mark several national and international events, including the BBC’s title music for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and music for the national commemoration of 9/11 at Westminster Abbey – subsequently performed in New York on the first anniversary of the attacks. He also composed music for the BBC Events’ coverage of the sixtieth anniversary of D-Day, 

Many of his choral works have been recorded by the Choir of Clare College Cambridge with saxophonist John Harle and tenor Robert Tear under Timothy Brown (Et Cetera KTC 1248), Commotio, with violist Levine Andrade and tenor Christopher Gillett conducted by Matthew Berry (Naxos 8.572103) and the Westminster Williamson Voices conducted by James Jordan (Naxos 8.572737, Naxos 8.573070, Naxos 8.573715), with saxophonist Jeremy Powell, organists Ken Coan and Daryl Robinson, soprano Arianna Zukerman and The Lincoln Trio. The Williamson Voices’ Naxos recording of Annelies under James Jordan was nominated for a GRAMMY award under the Best Choral Performance category in 2014.

He is popular on both sides of the Atlantic as choral advisor and also enjoys a profile as a conductor and producer, with four GRAMMY nominations to his name among many other international awards and nominations. He is a regular participant in choral preparation workshops and has worked with students at Princeton University, Rider University, Oxford University, Cambridge University and other educational and choral establishments. As well conducting the BBC Philharmonic, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and other leading orchestras, he directs the London-based vocal ensemble The Choir, whose acclaimed DVD recording of John Tavener’s choral music received a Gramophone nomination.

James Whitbourn is Senior Research Fellow at St. Stephen’s House, Oxford, a member of the Faculty of Music in the University of Oxford and Director of Music at St Edmund Hall, Oxford.

Episode 84: Exploring the Choirs of Europe with Gary Graden of St. Jacobs Kammerkör

The Second Installment Betsy Cook Weber’s Sabbatical Series!

In this stop, Betsy visits Stockholm, Sweden to see Gary Graden and the St. Jacobs Kammerkör. Betsy, Gary and I discuss how an American born director ended up learning from Eric Ericsson and never leaving. We also dive into the philosophies, practices and approaches that lead to such a virtuosic sound from this top flight Swedish choir. I was inspired by Gary’s passion for his job, which in his words is to provide his singers a high quality musical experience “interacting with great art.” In Betsy’s words, Gary is “in it to win it, but winning isn’t a trophy.” You won’t want to miss this conversation, or the concert clips!

Episode 84
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Episode 84

GARY GRADEN

was born in the USA and studied at Clark University, the Hartt School of Music, the Aspen Summer Music Festival, and with Eric Ericson at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. Gary Graden is a former member and tenor soloist with the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir, as well as the vocal ensemble Lamentabile Consort.

Gary Graden is presently Director of Music in the Stockholm Cathedral (Storkyrkan) and S:t Jacob´s church. He has also been on the faculty of  Stockholm´s Musikgymnasium where founded and conducted the Stockholm Musikgymnasium´s Chamber Choir. With this choir and the S:t Jacobs Chamber Choir he has won grand prizes and first prizes in several of Europe´s most prestigious competitions, including the European Grand Prize.

He has also participated in a wide array of national and international festivals including the Tolosa Festival in Spain, the IFCM World Symposia in Minneapolis and Kyoto, Sagra Musicale Umbra in Italy, Debrecen Festival in Hungary,  Koorbiennale in Holland, the ACDA National Convention in USA, and is currently artistic director of the international choral festival La Fabbrica del Canto in Legnano.

Graden has commissioned and premiered more than 90 works by such composers as Sven-David Sandström, Anders Hillborg, Nana Forte, Thomas Jennefelt, Steve Dobrogosz,  Bo Hansson, Agneta Sköld, Gabriel Jackson, Anders Paulsson,  Javier Busto, Vytautas Miškinis, Urmas Sisask, Georg Riedel, Carl Unander-Scharin, Stephen Leek, Damijan Močnik, Corrado Margutti, Giovanni Bonato, and Michael Waldenby.

He has conducted several orchestras including the Uppsala Chamber Orchestra. the Stockholm Royal Opera Orchestra, Stockholm Rebaroque, the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Philidor, France, and Camerata Strumentale Città di Prato as well as Orchestra da Camera Perugia in Italy. Above and beyond his specialization in the performance of contemporary music, he has performed such larger works as Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem and Mass in c-minor, Bach’s passions and Mass in b-minor, as well as the Requiems of Brahms, Duruflé, Fauré and Michael Haydn.

Epiosode 84

Episode 83: “Exploring the Choirs of Europe” Rupert Gough of Royal Holloway

The First Installment of the a new series following Betsy Cook Weber on her Sabbatical

I am honored to present to you a new series of podcasts and videos with Dr. Betsy Cook Weber. Dr. Weber is on Sabbatical this semester, and she reached out to me to partner in documenting her travels across Europe. Her mission? To discover the “secret sauce” of many European scholastic and professional choral organizations. In the first installment Betsy and I speak with Rupert Gough of London’s Royal Holloway School. We cover the philosophy and practice that governs this fantastic choir from rehearsal and audition procedures to the challenge of getting British choirs to emote . Tune in for a fresh perspective and some beautiful sounds from their rehearsals.

Exploring Europe Series!
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Episode 83

Rupert Gough has been Director of Choral Music and College Organist at Royal Holloway, University of London since 2005. He is also Organist and Director of Music at London’s oldest surviving church, Great Saint Bartholomew, which maintains a professional choir. He previously spent 11 years as Assistant Organist at Wells Cathedral where he worked closely with the choir both as accompanist and choir trainer. During this time he featured on 19 recordings as either organist or conductor, including six discs for Hyperion Records.   

His overall discography of nearly 50 commercial recordings encompasses work as a choir director, organist and harpsichordist, and includes the organ and choral works of Sir Percy Buck (Priory), the instrumental and choral works of Carson Cooman (Naxos and Albany), the complete works for violin and organ of Josef Rheinberger and choral works of Rihards Dubra, Vytautas Miškinis and Bo Hansson (Hyperion). 

Born in 1971, Rupert was a chorister at the Chapels Royal, St. James’s Palace, and won a scholarship to the Purcell School. He received (with distinction) a Masters degree in English Church Music from the University of East Anglia whilst Organ Scholar at Norwich Cathedral. In 2001 he won Third Prize at the St. Alban’s International Organ Competition. He is particularly renowned for his work in combination with violin as a member of the Gough Duo. The Duo’s many American tours have taken them all over the USA from Florida to Alaska. Recently they performed to audiences of 1,800 in Moscow and 1,200 in Hong Kong. 

As a conductor he has worked with a variety of professional choirs and orchestras including the Britten Sinfonia, the London Mozart Players, the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and Florilegium. He has also been fortunate to work with many distinguished soloists including Julian Lloyd Webber, Antony Rolfe Johnson, Felicity Lott, Susan Bullock, Emma Kirkby, James Bowman and Wayne Marshall. This summer he will be working alongside the King’s Singers in their first UK Summer School.

Dr. Betsy Cook Weber is a Madison Endowed Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at the University of Houston Moores School of Music.  She teaches a full load of coursework, oversees the large and varied choral area at the Moores School, and is also highly active internationally as a conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and lecturer.  

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?

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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.

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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.

www.southshorechildrenschorus.org

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
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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:

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Ask Me Literally ANYTHING

Chris Reads from the Audience Mailbag and Joins the Cast of a NEW Podcast

In this episode, I read some recent reviews from the Apple Podcasts App, as well as some questions that came in through the website. Then, I have clipped out a portion of episode one of Reconstructing the Dialogue. A new podcast on which I am but one voice of many. Journalist Mónica Guzman, Professor Erec Smith and author and frequent Newsweek columnist Angel Eduardo and I offer our thoughts on ways to mend the broken race discourse. I won’t other you often with this show, but I wanted to let you know I was doing it! I hope you will subscribe!

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The Audience Mailbag
Be sure to subscribe to the new show on your favorite app or at reconstructingthedialogue.com

Car Thoughts: Elite without elitism, merit without meritocracy

We can expect “Excellence” and be inclusive of all ability levels at the same time!

That’s it. That’s the Blog.

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Car Thoughts on the topic

Just kidding. There’s more.

On the Choralosophy Podcast over the last several years, I have presented my thoughts on choral music curriculum in several episodes. From grading policies, to literacy instruction, as well a the philosophy of grading on growth rather than arbitrary standards based grading. I believe that a school choir program can be BOTH incredibly rigorous and open to beginners at the same time. A high school choir CAN achieve college level or beyond literacy skills, a professional rehearsal atmosphere that is fun and engaging, all while remaining productive and continuously striving for excellence. One can accept that “perfection” in all human endeavors does not exist, without abandoning the constant march towards it. Below is an example from the beginning of last school year, where our prior literacy, independence and rigor saved our school year due to the challenges presented by masks, social distancing, and reduced rehearsal time. (Scroll to the bottom for episodes on my literacy method.)

An example of an “advanced” rehearsal in my program. Demonstrating the power of high levels of literacy training prior to 11th-12th grade.

What is Excellence? Who gets to define it?

I do. For my classroom. You do for yours. It’s pretty simple really. The line in the sand that I draw is that everyone has to have some definition of this word, or people will not take the choir seriously. It does not matter if excellence is centered around concepts of intonation, rhythmic precision, resonance and expressive line like mine is, or centered around facial expression, choreography, story telling like a great show choir. The priorities can be completely different and they could both be excellent. Maybe your definition of excellence is centered around the way humans FEEL in your rehearsals. Centered around an informal rubric of community, acceptance and love. That’s ok too. You are an excellent choir when you achieve your choir’s goals. This doesn’t have to be an argument. The tent of choral music is large enough for an infinite number of “Excellence models” but you must choose a definition and strive for it relentlessly.

Grading on Growth

This concept is important in my program because it demonstrates the possible duality between “rigor” and “inclusivity.” I believe that rigorous curricula can be inclusive of all levels of learner if we grade on growth. Put simply, “I don’t care where you start. You can get better, and that’s how you will earn an A.” We have a difficult balance to maintain in school music. We must be a “real class” in the eyes of the community and administration while also accepting students into our programs with WIDELY ranging levels of prior knowledge and skill. I outline my attempt at this balance in the two episodes below.

Episodes 18, 52 and 69 will get you started on a new literacy journey! For episode 69 I highly recommend the video version so you can watch the individual sight singing assessments happen!
Example of work with Sight Reading Factory with 10th grade students. We call this our “intermediate” level class.

Episode 79: Is Grad School Right For Me?! André Thomas, Jennaya Robison and Giselle Wyers

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.

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Episode 79

Episode 78: The Only White Guy in the Room with Maria and Chris

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.

Episode 78

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.

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Episode 78

Episode 77: Singing Without Fear with Dr. J.D. Frizzell

Removing Barriers To Honest and Emotional Singing