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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!
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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!
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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!
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.

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 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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!
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

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 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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!
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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

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 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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

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

Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
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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.”

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

Episode 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 …

Episode 104: Don’t Abandon the Canon! With 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 …

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 …

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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!
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!
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

Episode 103: Finding My Voice with Brittney E. Boykin

In Collaboration with Oxford University Press to Bring You Great Conversations 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 …

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 …

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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

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 …

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 …

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
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!
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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

Enter choralosophy at checkout to get 5% off choir folders, robes and other essential choral gear.
Gabriel Jackson-Photo credit: Reinis Hofmanis
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Episode 99: Gabriel Jackson
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!
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!

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!

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

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”.

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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

J. D. Frizzell

J.D. Frizzell is a standout educator and clinician. In this episode, we discuss Dr. Frizzell’s successful approach to getting his singers to come out of their shells! We all want our ensembles to sing with passion, honesty, and expression, but how do we achieve this in an objective, measurable way? While group discussions of poetic meaning can be helpful, they will not create the kind of transformative performance that will change lives. We must dive deeper into ways we can empower our singers with the skills and preparation to approach the literature without fear—fear of tessitura, vocal faults, note and rhythm accuracy, and more. This will be a helpful, practical discussion in which we identify and rectify common issues that prevent emotional singing.

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Episode 77

J.D. Frizzell is the Director of Fine Arts and Director of Vocal Music at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, TN. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Choral Conducting from The University of Kentucky. Dr. Frizzell earned the double Master’s in Music Theory/Composition and Conducting from The University of Southern Mississippi, where he also earned the bachelor’s degree in Music History and Literature.Dr. Frizzell, winner of the 2007 Intégrales Composition Contest, writes music for choir, orchestra, symphonic band, voice, handbells, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments. With music published by many major publishing houses, he has had best sellers throughout the world. Frizzell was chosen by the board of the Tennessee Music Educators Association as the 2011 Outstanding Young Music Educator. Additionally, he was awarded the Dr. Clair E. Cox Award for Teaching Excellence.As the Director of Fine Arts at Briarcrest, Dr. Frizzell leads a faculty of twelve full time faculty-artists and is responsible for coordinating curriculum, instruction, and budgets for all of the fine arts programs (K2-12th grade). He also serves as an advocate and school liaison for all of the visual art, instrumental music, vocal music, dance, theatre, and technical production programs. As the Director of Vocal Music, he teaches the Concert Choir, Advanced Women’s Choir, and OneVoice. Additionally, Dr. Frizzell works with the middle and elementary school choirs when needed.

A leader in the contemporary a cappella movement, he is the co-founder and President of The A Cappella Education Association, a nonprofit dedicated to helping groups around the world. He also serves on the board of the nonprofit June Vocal Music, which is dedicated to the creation of new professional a cappella groups and development of opportunities for diverse and otherwise underrepresented student populations. His high school a cappella group, OneVoice, is a SONY Recording Artist. They were the winners of the Macy’s A Cappella Challenge judged by Pentatonix, contestants on America’s Got Talent, performers at The Emmys, and collaborators with The Swingles. Dr. Frizzell co-authored the books “A Cappella Warm Ups for Pop and Jazz Choirs” and Teaching Music Through Performance in Contemporary A Cappella.Dr. Frizzell is active as a presenter, adjudicator, clinician, and guest conductor. As an active member of TNMEA, NATS, ACDA, and WTVMEA, he has served in multiple volunteer capacities, including two-time Chairperson of All-West Honor Choir Auditions and Performances and Choral Festival.

He has served as the Southern Division ACDA R & S Chair for Men’s Choirs. The board of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation named him one of “Memphis’ Finest” for his philanthropic efforts. He lives in Memphis, TN with his wife, Emily, son, Henry, and dogs, Sally and Ari.For commission, conducting, workshop, or other booking information, please visit http://www.jdfrizzell.com.Dr. JD Frizzell is the Director of Fine Arts and Director of Vocal Music at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, TN, where he is responsible for coordinating all Fine Arts programs (K2-12th grade). As the Director of Vocal Music, he teaches the Concert Choir, Advanced Women’s Choir, Mens Choir, and internationally-acclaimed a cappella group OneVoice. His ensembles have performed at regional, national, and international conventions. Winner of the Integrales Composition Contest, Dr. Frizzell has had many best-selling compositions and arrangements. He also co-authored “A Cappella Warm Ups” with Deke Sharon. Dr. Frizzell is the President of the A Cappella Education Association and the founder of the National A Cappella Convention.

Episode 76: Finding a Niche with John Rutter

Part of the Oxford Series on the Choralosophy Podcast

The next installment of the Oxford Series is THE John Rutter. We have all grown up knowing the name and legacy that John represents. In this conversation, my goal was to give you a peak behind the curtain revealing the human side of the legend. We discussed the value of choral music to the world, his growth and maturation as a composer, and what keeps his fire lit after all these years. John Rutter could stop composing today and his legacy would be established. What keeps him going? Tune in and find out! A bonus later in the episode is a man after my heart where John brings up the toxic nature of online discourse, and role choral music can play in healing.

John Rutter
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Episode 76: John Rutter

John Rutter studied music at Clare College, Cambridge and first came to notice as a composer and arranger of Christmas carols and other choral pieces during those early years; today his compositions, including such concert-length works as RequiemMagnificatMass of the ChildrenThe Gift of Life, and Visions are performed around the world.

John edits the Oxford Choral Classics series, and, with Sir David Willcocks, co-edited four volumes of Carols for Choirs. In 1983 he formed his own choir The Cambridge Singers, with whom he has made numerous recordings on the Collegium Records label, and he appears regularly in several countries as a guest conductor and choral ambassador.

John holds a Lambeth Doctorate in Music, and was awarded a CBE for services to music in 2007.

Episode 75: The Delta Variables with Dr. Tracy Hoeg (part 2)

CDC published epidemiologist returns to the show to discuss the science of schools in the shifting sands of Delta.

Since appearing on the show in November on Episode 49, Dr. Høeg has been very busy both researching and making public commentary about the issues surrounding Covid, kids and schools. Since her first Choralosophy appearance, she was a senior author on a study about in school transmission published by the CDC and subsequently referenced in their “Back to School Guidelines.” In addition, she has written articles in the Atlantic and the New York Times among others.

Dr. Tracy Høeg

In this episode, the Dr. and I discuss the data on Delta variant and it’s effect on kids, whether or not masking in schools is as obvious as we present it here in the US, and how other countries are approaching it, her advice on putting singing safety in a broader context beyond the “Aerosol Study” we all know and love. Dr. Høeg has been very generous with her time in the tradition of the other Covid Conversations on this show wandering beyond even the data to the philosophy that governs the “harm reduction” philosophy. You don’t want to miss this one.

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Episode 75 Part 2

Data Representations Discussed in Episode.

Episode 75: The Delta Variables with Dr. Tracy Hoeg (Part 1)

CDC published epidemiologist returns to the show to discuss the science of schools in the shifting sands of Delta.

Since appearing on the show in November on Episode 49, Dr. Høeg has been very busy both researching and making public commentary about the issues surrounding Covid, kids and schools. Since her first Choralosophy appearance, she was a senior author on a study about in school transmission published by the CDC and subsequently referenced in their “Back to School Guidelines.” In addition, she has written articles in the Atlantic and the New York Times among others.

Dr. Tracy Høeg

In this episode, the Dr. and I discuss the data on Delta variant and it’s effect on kids, whether or not masking in schools is as obvious as we present it here in the US, and how other countries are approaching it, her advice on putting singing safety in a broader context beyond the “Aerosol Study” we all know and love. Dr. Høeg has been very generous with her time in the tradition of the other Covid Conversations on this show wandering beyond even the data to the philosophy that governs the “harm reduction” philosophy. You don’t want to miss this one.

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Episode 75 Part 1

Data Representations Discussed in Episode.

Mastering Literacy Instruction- Live at Iowa ACDA

A Back to School Special From Choralosophy Podcast

Iowa ACDA SRF Presentation

Listen in, or watch on YouTube for the complete presentation focusing on the practices, philosophies and RESULTS made possible by Sight Reading Factory. I discuss the “first day of school” reading activity, the way I rip off the bandaid by removing all keyboard assistance for note reading, signs for how your students are ready to move on to something harder, as well as the importance of establishing good vocal habits on day one to make literacy acquisition easier. In addition, the audience provides lots of great questions, leading to other great discussion topics. Enjoy!

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Listen here or on any Podcast Player!

The Full Spectrum Lens- Recruiting and Program Building

Downloadable files from two recent presentations

Summer 2021 Presentations on Recruiting are linked below. To listen to the audio of this presentation, you can join the Choralosophy Patreon for 3$ a month

A version of this presentation was given to Missouri and Iowa ACDA Chapters.

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www.ryanmain.com
www.graphitepublishing.com
vocevista.com/choralosophy
www.sightreadingfactory.com
www.mymusicfolders.com
www.mychoirrobes.com

This presentation was given for the National ACDA Webinar on recruiting.

Bite Sized Choral Tips: “Mindset” in Rehearsal with William Bennett

A Back to School Special from the Choralosophy Podcast

This time, we have William Bennett of Cane Bay High School in the hot seat to reflect on Carol Dweck’s “Mindset” research and practice as well as its implication in the choral rehearsal setting. Warning: sportsball metaphors are used gratuitously. In this short discussion, we will impart on you several activities, descriptions and philosophies to help you incorporate this important psychological insight into your teaching.

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William Bennett

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vocevista.com/choralosophy

www.sightreadingfactory.com

www.mymusicfolders.com

www.mychoirrobes.com

William J. Bennett is the Director of Choirs at Cane Bay High School and the Director of Music at Summerville Presbyterian Church. He was selected as one of 10 finalists for the 2015 GRAMMY Music Educator Award, and was the 2009-2010 Cane Bay High School Teacher of the Year. He has led clinics on leadership in a music classroom, choral techniques, and sight singing, and has served as a choral clinician for multiple middle and high school clinics. He served as the SC ACDA President (2017 – 2019) and served on the South Carolina Department of Education’s Visual and Performing Arts Standards Revision Committee revising the SC High School Choral Music Curriculum Guide. Previous appointments include: Conductor of the University Chorus and Adjunct Professor of Music at the College of Charleston; Assistant Conductor of the Taylor Festival Choir; and Associate Director of Choirs at Wando High School. Choirs under his direction have performed featured concerts at the ACDA Southern Division Conference, SC ACDA and SCMEA Conferences, the Piccolo Spoleto Festival and at the Washington National Cathedral.He holds a Masters Degree in Music: Choral and Orchestral Conducting from Louisiana State University and a BA in Music: Vocal Performance from the College of Charleston

Bite Size Back to School Thoughts- “Cultural Custodians” with Zach Singer

A Back to School Special from Choralosophy Podcast

Zachary Singer

Zach Singer weighed in on the main page of Choralosophy.com with an idea to share with us. He calls it being a “cultural custodian.” As we get back to being busy, I thought you might enjoy a few bite sized episodes with some practical, usable ideas. Tune in to hear Zach’s thoughts about bridging cultural divides in the classroom in order to find a shared classroom culture through music.

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Find Zach’s “In Time” Podcast Here!

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www.ryanmain.com

www.graphitepublishing.com

vocevista.com/choralosophy

www.sightreadingfactory.com

www.mymusicfolders.com

www.mychoirrobes.com

Car Thoughts Live: What is Expertise in Choral Music?

Expertise Cannot Be Earned as a student. We must test our academic ideas in the real world.

I recently had a lot of time to think and reflect while driving home from the convention circuit, so I went LIVE in the Choralsophers FB group to discuss some reactions to audience feedback from the Success Rubrics episode. One of the ideas that drew the most attention, is that the primacy of the “degree” as a success marker may not be the best way for us to structure our professional spaces and organizations. So, with comments coming in to the chat while driving, (do not try this at home, I am a trained professional) I reflected further on this issue. As always, let’s keep the conversation going!

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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

Reimagining the Rubric For “Success” In Choral Careers

Who is in the Choral Cool Kids Club?

Our current rubric is based almost entirely on two factors. What degree do you have? And what level of choir do you direct? That’s not enough.

One of the hot items of choral discussion recently has been “Choral Elitism.” I have done episodes on the show about it, Chris Maunu has written some great blogs, and countless comments in Facebook groups deriding it as a problem. This post is intended to approach the topic from a different angle. I think one of the most dysfunctional aspects of Choral Culture is HOW we decide who the “stars” are in our profession. Who gets asked to present, who gets asked to direct the honor choir, and recently, who can muster large movements of the culture via social media buzz. Having a hierarchy in this way is normal and natural, but the rubric with which we choose our “cool kids club” matters. So let’s play a little game and see if we can’t reimagine the rubric.

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The Rubric For Success
  1. Consistent excellence in the final musical product. An important caveat here is that we CANNOT reserve ourselves to basing this on the concert. To understand who is doing GREAT work in this area, we need “before and after” recordings or eye witness. This matters because we don’t all have the same singers, feeders, admins etc. So, to me success in “musical excellence” should be available to elementary to professional choirs. Show me how far your singers can come under your leadership!
  2. Consistent management of choral programs that flourish. Do people want to sing for this person consistently and over years? To me, this says volumes about what is going on in that rehearsal space. I know something’s being done masterfully.
  3. Does the director have a track record of better and better music making? The beauty of this one is that it requires a synthesis of #1 and 2. You can’t make steady improvement in the music unless you have a steady stream of excited and eager singers coming into the program.
  4. Is the director an innovator in one or more areas of their teaching practice? Are they dreaming up, implementing and perfecting NEW ways to deliver the choral art form and all of its nuts and bolts to new generations of singers?
  5. Is the director contributing to the body of scholarship? This could take the form of research within academia, the creation of definitive recordings, or even by curating new discussions on various aspects of scholarship for conventions etc.

The Essential PD Library: Starting Your School Year With Momentum

For the Midsummer installment of the show, I am encouraging you to take a professional development break from your summer fun, not to “do work,” but to begin thinking ahead. To start hoping, dreaming, and scheming for your BEST academic year yet. In fact, I believe that in order to be a a”professional educator,” the summer must include this type of reflection AND planning. I know we’re off the clock, but if your goal is to be the absolute best for your students and singers, this time spent is crucial. Trust me, I am all for unplugging and unwinding, in fact, I am doing that right now as I type this drinking coffee in a cabin in the Black Hills.

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

In this post, I have curated several discussions from the last 2 and half years, and almost 110 Choralosophy Podcast episodes that I think can contribute to every choral director’s professional development and improvement for next year. The foundation of what we do every day rests upon our mastery of the fundamentals, and our ability to convey these concepts to our students. Please browse the library below, and enjoy your summer!

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Summer PD Library!

Understanding the Science

An important part of what we do IS science. Don Brinegar and I had an eye opening discussion about how tuning systems work, and how to teach this concept to our choirs in a way that improves their ear, AND their understanding of how tuning systems vary around the world. Amanda Quist joined me for another tangential, and mind blowing conversation about teaching concepts of resonance.

Another really important conversation regarding the science of our job is the vocal ped conversation. Choir directors are often thought to have an insufficient education in this area, often times leading to some assumptions and oversimplifications being taught to students in a choral setting. For this conversation, I will point you toward a session delivered at the Choralosophy Convention in Atlanta back in April. This session by Beth Munce, my FAVORITE voice teacher specializing in introducing adolescent voices to classical technique, was revolutionary for those in attendance, and we had a lot of great conversations about “Things Choir Teachers Shouldn’t Say” about the voice. The full session can be accessed on the Choralosophy Patreon feed for subscribers only. (normal episodes are always free.)

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

Beth Munce at Choralosophy Con 2021 in Atlanta discussing vocal tips that might work for some bodies and not others. Avoid bandaidshttps://choralnet.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/IMG_5683.mov

In Episode 44, Dr. Andrew Crane and Dr. Jami Rhodes joined me for another voice science and pedagogy conversation that is a MUST listen for any director wanting to avoid the pitfall of teaching a diverse group of voice types and body shapes etc by using “one size fits all bandaids.”

Most recently, I did a short “Car Thoughts” video with some easy to try tips related to achieving resonance from young singers WITHOUT asking them to “sing louder.”

Literacy Starts on the First Day of School

Students at any place along the learning curve CAN be taught to read music, and can be taught to do it WITHOUT notes being played simultaneously. This begins of course, with rote training. They must have an aural picture in their mind for pitch relationships, and they must have at least a beginning level of confidence making noises. This can be developed AND connected to literacy concepts on the first day of school. From there, it’s just about consistency, and holding students accountable with logical, growth oriented grading systems. ALL students can learn to be literate.

I recommend listening in the following order: 1. Episode 18Episode 21Episode 52. These are all connected to each other and should be very cohesive. Then, follow up with Episode 69 and “Growth vs. Achievement.”

See Below for a list of Literacy and grading episodes. The podcast players below will contain all of the audio for free!

You can listen from the widgets below which will take you to Apple or Castbox to finish listening, or you can find the show on Google Play, Spotify, Youtube or Stitcher!

Episode 74: Is the Choral Ecosystem a Political Monolith? With Reginal Wright

Over the past year, I began to notice a breath of fresh air in the online choral discourse in the form of Reginal Wright. Like many of you, I have used Facebook to network with other choral directors that I don’t know in real life. This has benefits for me as a Podcast host, but can be a challenge on a personal level. Reginal, however, stood out to me because of his frequent posts inviting polite disagreement and creating a platform for multiple views to be expressed and treated with respect. So, I had to speak with a kindred spirit. In the course of this conversation, he and I talk about our approach to political discussions within professional spaces, in our classrooms, as well as the need to put our differences as choral directors aside in order to support each other, advocate for each other and build each other up.

Episode 74
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Reginal Wright

Reginal Wright was born in Henderson, Texas. His life as a musician began in his middle school band as a trombonist. As a 20 year educator, Reginal has earned many awards including Outstanding Teacher, Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and a nomination for the UIL Sponsor Excellence Award. Reginal also earned the 2018 Educator of the Year Award for the Mansfield School District.​Reginal has performed music in Vienna and Salzburg, Austria as well as Munich, Germany and throughout the United States. As a conductor, he is a sought after clinician in both Gospel and Classical genres. He has enjoyed the opportunity to conduct Honor Choirs for many school districts throughout the United States.

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

He also serves as a clinician in many Texas All State Choir camps and All State Choirs.Reginal is also an aspiring composer, writing music that caters to school and church choirs.Reginal received both his Bachelor and Masters of Music Education Degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. He is currently the head choral director at Mansfield High School. His choirs are consistent sweepstakes winners in both concert and sight reading contests.

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Choirs under his direction also earn “Outstanding in Class” awards at National Music Festivals. In 2012 the Mansfield High School A Cappella Women’s choir was honored as SWACDA honor choir. In 2018 the Mansfield Varsity Men’s Choir performed at the prestigious Texas Music Educators Association Convention in San Antonio. He is a member of Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Music Adjudicators Association, Texas Choral Directors Association, American Choral Directors Association and served as Vocal Chair for TMEA Region 5 from 2014-2017. Reginal resides in Arlington with his wife Renetta, son Gabrien, daughter Reece and Yorkie Cooper

Episode 73: Love Supreme with Professor Teodros Kiros

Executive producer and host of the television program African Ascent, W.E.B Du Bois fellow at Harvard, Professor of Philosophy at Berklee College of Music, Author

“I try to argue that they can become better musicians if they become philosophically trained. They will become sensitive to aesthetics in their lives, to the role that art plays in their lives.”

Dr. Teodros Kiros

I feel like I caught lighting in a bottle with this episode. We are all incredibly fortunate to have the chance to absorb wisdom from Professor Teodros Kiros. Dr. Kiros and I discuss the many connections between philosophical training and musical training. I was spellbound many times throughout this conversation hearing about how inseparable music and philosophy SHOULD be. We discuss the common humanity that is unearthed through the sharing of musical and philosophical ideas throughout history, the most scholarly unpacking of cultural appropriation I have yet encountered, as well as Coltrane’s “Love Supreme” and why, with in that one piece of music, we can find a unifying theme for our life and for our music. Don’t miss it.

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Episode 73

Podcast Referenced With Cornell West and Glenn Loury

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Professor Kiros Books on Amazon

See more of Professor Kiros’ books on Amazon

Teodros Kiros is considered a leading authority on moral philosophy and a leading voice in African philosophy. He has been a W. E. B. Du Bois Fellow at Harvard University for the past 20 years and has been nominated three times for Berklee’s Distinguished Faculty Award. Kiros is the producer and host of the internationally acclaimed television program African Ascent, which continually gives visibility to Berklee faculty and includes interviews with President Roger H. Brown and Provost Larry Simpson. He is also an essayist for leading websites and has published hundreds of articles in refereed journals and online. He’s also a columnist for leading newspapers.

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.
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

Career Highlights· Philosopher and novelist· Has had short stories and an excerpt from his forthcoming novel, Cambridge Days, featured on Bridgeportword.com·

Author and/or editor of 17 books including Towards the Construction of Political Action; Moral Philosophy and Development; Self-Construction and the Formation of Human Values: Truth, Language and Desire; Explorations in African Political Thought; Multiculturalism; Zara Yacob: Rationality of the Human Heart; Philosophical Essays; Ethiopian Discourse; Hirut and Hailu and Other Short Stories; and Cambridge Days; and the forthcoming Self-Definition: A Philosophical Inquiry from the Global South and Global North· W. E. B. Du Bois Fellow at Harvard University·

Executive producer and host of the television program African Ascent· Professor of Africana Philosophy at Harvard UniversityAwards· Winner of the 1999 Michael Harrington Book Award—Author for Self-Construction and the Formation of Human Values: Truth, Language, and DesireEducation

Episode 72: Artists! It’s OK to be an Entrepreneur with Brian Witkowski

Singers often have the mentality that if they go to the audition and don’t get the gig, they have failed. Choral directors often feel that if someone doesn’t hire them for the tenure track, or the honor choir gig, then they have sufficiently been told “no.” “I guess this isn’t for me after all.” The happy reality, is that this is a mindset you can chose, or reject. Being an entrepreneur simply mea