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.

https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Ep-110.mp3
Episode 110
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com

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

Sign up for a one year membership today and get a month free!
Enter Choralosophy at Checkout for a 5% discount when you shop for folders, robes and other gear for your choir program! www.mymusicfolders.com and www.mychoirrobes.com

https://www.instagram.com/moniguzman

https://www.facebook.com/reclaimcuriosity

Two Other Episodes Related to Political Polarization in Education

Episode 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
https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Ep-106.mp3
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

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

One of the oddest things about Vocal Music Education as a profession, is how little we are required to learn in our schooling about the voice. Vocal Pedagogy courses are often the purview of voice performance majors, which is very odd considering how many more students will be impacted with vocal instruction by a person with a Music Ed degree.

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.

https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Ep-104.mp3
Episode 104
Enter Choralosophy at Checkout for a 5% discount when you shop for folders, robes and other gear for your choir program! www.mymusicfolders.com and www.mychoirrobes.com

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

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

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

Visit Dr. Prather’s YouTube channel
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.

Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!
https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Ep-98.mp3
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.

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.

https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Ep-93.mp3
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 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?

https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Ep-82.mp3
Episode 82

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.

https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/ep-78.mp3
Episode 78

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
https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/ep-74.mp3
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.

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

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

A Rhetorical Analysis of Toxic Discourses with Dr. Erec Smith

For the first time on Choralosophy, I have written a blog to accompany the podcast episode! This post is not specific to music or musicians. But, as with many topics, we are all trying to navigate a rapidly changing social landscape. I think, write and speak quite a bit about how the quality of conversation has been negatively effected by the influence of social media. In the Podcast, I ask Dr. Erec Smith of York College for his expert perspective on some of my observations. Namely, that many “fights” I observe, or that people attempt to pick with me, seem to follow some recurring rhetorical patterns that may be exacerbated by social media, and its manipulation of some of our mental bad habits.

Find Dr. Smith’s Book here in which he outlines his Empowerment Theory of Anti-Racism.

Dr. Erec Smith
https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/erec-smith.mp3
Special Edition!

Just a few of many Human Psychological processes that social media apps actively manipulate:

1. Availability heuristic- if you see the bad thing constantly on your phone, the brain places it in a category that is the same as “existential danger etc.” The thing may be very real and very bad, but it isn’t as prevalent as the phone makes it seem. This is where stepping back to look at data is very important. The 10,000 foot view. 

2. Anchoring bias- the first context you see something in, or the first fact you see is disproportionately hard to shake when new info arrives. (This is exploited when you rely on a small group of sources for info)

3. Audience effect- every interaction is perverted by an audience. Because the conversations are not between two people. They are between two people with an audience watching. Which means both participants in the conversation feel a very strong pull to perform. It becomes disproportionately important to us to appear to be a good member of our team. And often, the easiest way to do that is to be seen attacking the “other team.”

4. The paradox of morality:-Those who are sincerely want to do the right thing may lie to cover their moral lapses (thus, less moral)-Those who care less about appearing moral may be more honest about their moral failings (thus, more moral) https://journals.sagepub.com/…/10.1177/1088868318811759

Now just my guess: I think most people don’t want to imagine themselves as “susceptible” to such petty manipulation. This is a problem for those “other” people…

Something in the Ether

Probably the most interesting thing about hosting a podcast that “leans in” to sensitive conversations is the type of feedback I get. One “genre” of message I receive quite frequently is listeners, friends and colleagues who PRIVATELY express some type of gratitude or admiration for how I handle arguments online. (I know that sounds like a flex, but it is important for the story.) Namely, that I don’t get rattled, and I don’t get sucked in to the name calling, anger, and accusations. This will also be accompanied by an expression of fear about the common Zeitgeist of how conversations online tend of devolve into suspicion and accusation very quickly. I also hear fear to express one’s true opinions, for fear of losing status in their professional community or friend group.

“What if I don’t get accepted to a post grad program because I am perceived as having the wrong opinions?” “It’s just easier to keep my mouth shut.” etc. I also have found it fascinating that this type of concern and fear has come to me from people with a wide diversity of backgrounds. Conversely, almost every single criticism I get is posted publicly rather than via private attempt to communicate.

Below, I will lay out some of the common rhetorical devices I have seen frequently in the many online conversations I have participated in. Keep in mind, when analyzing something “rhetorically,” we try and focus on the WAY things are being said, and less about the opinions or positions themselves. The sad thing is that this toxic trend is occurring in conversations that are substantially very important. It is for this reason that I feel that we MUST get better at having the conversation.

First, let’s establish what HEALTHY and PRODUCTIVE conversations look like. I believe they must all contain the following:

When these things are not present, it opens the door for a toxic discussion.

A recent Patreon only Episode Discusses this as well! Join that important community for as little as $3 a month!

Narrowing the Window

As the Overton Window for what types views can be productively discussed online continues to narrow, I have outlined some common problems that contribute to negative outcomes in contentious comment threads. An extremely common example of this is the following reductionist statement template:

“I am fine with disagreement when it comes to (fill in the blank super benign thing like pizza toppings), but I will not honor the opinion of someone who advocates for (fill in the blank with some extreme, often violent or explicitly discriminatory position that almost no one holds.)”

This is a common rhetorical device that seeks to draw a simple binary over a complex conversation. This way, the person can avoid contending with the THOUSANDS of points of reasonable disagreement between pizza toppings and violence. This narrows the Overton Window by attaching magnetic poles to the extremes of an argument. “You’re either with us or against us.” When you think about it for more than a few seconds, it becomes baffling that a person would frame disagreement in that way. What a charmed life one must have led, to have NO disagreements with anyone other than paint colors or pizza toppings. The most important thing here is learning to recognize this rhetorical device, to avoid getting sucked in by it.

This meme is a popular way to communicate this fallacy. The problem with this statement is that it only works if everyone in the conversation uses the same definitions for all of those words. In the Socratic method, we start be agreeing on definitions FIRST.

In reality, any complex issue has thousands of variables that could be discussed or explored when a group of people is having a discussion. By framing disagreement in this way, we lose the opportunity to explore the variables. What I am seeing, is that many people seem to THINK they are presenting their own thoughts, but in reality are simply filling in pre-made conversation templates like the ones above.

The Anatomy of an Explosive Comment Thread

It is my belief that there are some folks out there that WANT threads to blow up. Some who actually set out to paint people into a corner, so that an argument is inevitable. You know a thread is going to blow up, and that it’s time to get out of dodge when you see the following sequence. It’s like clockwork, I’ve seen it happen 1000 times at this point. This will usually mean that someone who considers themselves to be an activist on whatever topic is being discussed has arrived on the scene. It is often very important for that person to be seen as a white knight or savior. I will call this person “The Hero.” In addition, there are usually a flock of people reading the thread and liking the activist’s/hero’s posts so that they can signal their support, but they rarely contribute to the conversation. This is what I will call the “audience.” This dynamic creates the performative nature of many conversations online.

Step 1. The Hero ENTERS the conversation telling others what they MUST do. This will usually be established in one of the first, if not THE first volley of the conversation. It will be a statement from authority in which a claim of what the result of this conversation will be from the outset.

Step 2. The Hero jump’s right in to mind reading and the assigning of motives. They will start to translate what people are actually saying (explicitly) into what they “are really saying” despite any protests, as well as what you “are really hoping to achieve.” The picture will not be flattering. (Meanwhile, the audience will be liking and loving the Hero’s attempts to paint their interlocutor as the bad guy. In doing so, they are also using the social media algorithms to draw more sympathetic audience members to the thread. Thus, creating the impression that they are in the majority.)

Step 3. Next, the Hero will “Catastrophize” and claim that the results of this conversation (even if it is in a private FB page) could have real and tragic consequences in the real world and provide no evidence for it. (this is usually the justification for step 4.  (I have tried turning the conversation at this point to the evidence for the catastrophe that could stem from our continued disagreement on the given topic. I do not recommend this. It won’t go well.)

Step 4. Outline the rules for the conversation early on, including who is allowed to speak and who is not, and most importantly make it clear how unwelcome it would be if the “wrong people” give their opinions.  (Sometimes this happens as part of Step 1, but some tend to drag this out a bit and let some people give their opinions before telling them their opinion is not welcome.) This is a part of a ritual almost, during which “teams” become clearly established. You either cheer on all of these rules, or you are on the opposing team.

Step 5. Accusations of bigotry or worse to anyone who bristles at the above steps. This is often accompanied by throwing around the word “tone-policing” or “fragility” when one person expresses discomfort with being called a bigot etc. See below for more thoughts on tone-policing. 

Tone-Policing

This is a term used often in activist discourses. It is often used in online arguments when one person does not like being told that they are being “mean or rude” by their interlocutor. In other words, there is usually a claim that saying another person is mean or rude is, in itself, mean or rude.

This seems incongruous with the recent rise in “consent culture” which I see as a good thing. Loosely defined, consent culture is the long overdue idea that I should be sensitive to your personal and physical boundaries. If I have crossed one, I am honor bound to step back. The current trend, at least in these types of arguments, is a move AWAY from consent culture. A person’s boundaries don’t disappear when they log on to the internet. This should concern all of us.

The term “tone-policing,” as I see it, is incongruous with consent culture. In other words, you and no one else, should have the moral authority to draw the boundaries that you are comfortable with online. If you establish them in a conversation, they should be respected. It’s that simple.

But, in order for consent culture to extend to certain online spaces, this concept MUST be reciprocal. “I find your accusations and rhetoric insulting, please stop” should never be met with “you don’t get to decide how I talk to you, stop tone policing me!

We would never accept this with in person conversation, because it is slimy and cowardly. Finding out you have hurt someone, stepping back and apologizing takes strength. If all participants in a conversation, regardless of age, race, gender expression, nationality, religion or any other identity category cannot accept this as a bare minimum for productive conversation to occur, then we are lost. So, my boundary, or line in the sand, is just that. I will talk to you about ANYTHING. As long as I feel like we are starting the conversation as equals. Some will say that this is impossible. “All conversations have power imbalances.” I disagree, but if that is your position, can’t we at least TRY?

Basically, what I am describing is bullying. In online spaces, we should encourage each other to be sensitive to boundaries of treatment the way we instinctually would in real life. (because this is real life.)

Episode 65: The Art of Community with Dr. Iona Italia

Shared goals are more important than any other factors when building community. Not shared cultures, shared backgrounds, or shared talents. We just need to want the same things. Choirs are typically natural breeding grounds of this type of shared interest. In this episode I compare notes with writer, podcaster and Tango instructor Dr. Iona Italia on the the ways we build community in our artistic spaces. She brings her experience living all over the world and participating in many cultures and the common threads in all of those efforts, while I just continue to notice more and more parallels to what we do in group singing. There is a little bit of something for everyone here, including my first E for explicit rating. Something about Iona just makes you want to take off the filter. Tune in and prepare to be fascinated by one of my most interesting guests!

Episode 65
https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/ep-65.mp3

Highlights include:

About Iona From Her Website:

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

Half Scottish, half Indian by origin, I lived in the UK, Germany and the US before settling in Argentina, where I have been working as a freelance writer and translator since 2006. I speak three foreign languages—Spanish, German and French—with fluency and confidence.

I am currently subeditor of Areo Magazine and host of the magazine’s podcast, Two for Tea.

I have translated texts ranging from literature, through business and technical material, to websites and advertising.



With a PhD in English Literature from Cambridge University, I have taught English at universities in both Europe (including Germany) and the US and have extensive experience in academic writing and editing. I’m the author of the book Anxious Employment, a history of early journalism, published by Routledge UP. I’ve published essays and articles on journalism and was joint editor of an essay collection on early periodicals (with Prof Robert Clark).

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!
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.

Car Thoughts: I Think We Dis the Super Bowl Music Because We’re Jealous

I said what I said.

The hot topic this week has been choir snobbery online in regards to pop music, or commercial music. I think this is an important topic, but as always, I have my own little angle that might be different than most. It could be that telling people what they must support can be just as elitist as not supporting things. I will call it “Preference Policing.” So, where is the line?

Maybe. But it could also be that we’re just jealous…

https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/car-thoughts-3.mp3
Car Thoughts

Car Thoughts: Why Conversations Online End Badly

I saw a few posts from colleagues recently that seemed to lament our inability to have good discussions among people who disagree online. The first problem: we aren’t actually having discussions anymore…


The best conversations I’ve ever had with colleagues have been in the bar at conventions. Or on my show!

https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/car-thoughts-2.mp3
Car Thoughts: Feb 5
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.

Navigating Post-Election Conversations at Thanksgiving Dinner with Angel Eduardo

As many listeners know, quality conversation is my passion. Building our resistance to vitriol and judgment in online conversation is a huge part of that. Angel Eduardo is a writer that I came across on Twitter when his article “Three Tips for Having Difficult Conversations” came across my feed. I instantly knew I had found a kindred spirit. So, if the election has you stressed, followed by the prospect of an increase in family time at Thanksgiving in which you will surely be dragged into a tough chat, then this episode is for you! Perhaps more importantly, this episode is for EVERYONE of any political background or profession that wants to put anger and judgement in conversation behind them.

https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/thanksgiving.mp3
Angel Eduardo

Find more at AngelEduardo.com!

Angel Eduardo has published prose in The Ocean State Review, Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, and The Caribbean Writer;poetry in Label Me Latino Journal; and has read publicly at various New York and New Jersey events. He holds a Master of Fine Arts for Memoir from CUNY Hunter College, and is a staff writer for Idealist.org.

His photographs have been published in The Olivetree Review and exhibited at various shows in Northern New Jersey, most notably Jersey City’s Casa Colombo as part of the Eye Write photography exhibit, and at the Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center as part of an event called The Photographic Code. Angel has also provided cover art for books, including Personal Effects: Essays on Memoir, Teaching and Culture in the Work of Louise DeSalvofor Fordham University Press, which makes use of his photograph entitled “Early Bird.” 

Angel has been writing, performing, and recording music since the age of 15, and has gigged at numerous venues in the tri-state area and beyond. His former band, Blue Food, released a full-length album and, through fan votes, beat out dozens of other groups for the chance to join the lineup of 2014’s Mantrabash outdoor festival in Ferguson, North Carolina.

An autodidact with a passion for presentation and big ideas, Angel has been intimately involved in every creative facet of his projects, from songwriting, producing, mixing and mastering, to designing and overseeing the creation of album artwork, concert posters, and merchandise. His tireless work ethic and boundless devotion to the act of creation has him dipping into multiple mediums, experimenting with myriad crafts, and endlessly searching for the biggest, best, and most exciting ideas.

Bonus Episode: Stepping Outside the Choir World with Sociologist Dr. Roderick Graham

Our online choral conversations are frequently centered, especially recently, around culture. How do we negotiate a diverse society within our classrooms and the online conversations that result?

Dr. Graham invited me on his YouTube channel to discuss topics that fall under this broad umbrella like cancel culture, race, discourse and why so many of these topics are difficult to discuss. I was honored to participate it Dr. Graham’s series on his show on “The Culture Wars.”

Teaser: in this conversation I refer to Robin DiAngelo as Beverly D’Angelo… TWICE. Cancel me now…so embarrassed.

Dr. Rod Graham- Old Dominion University
https://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/choralosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/rod.mp3
Bonus Episode!
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.
%%footer%%