Episode 103: Finding My Voice with Brittney E. Boykin

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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!
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

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 102: Belonging Isn’t Top-Down

Advertisements 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 …

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

Advertisements 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 …

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Episode 102: Belonging Isn’t Top-Down

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

Chris Munce
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Episode 102

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

Enter Choralosophy at Checkout for a 5% discount when you shop for folders, robes and other gear for your choir program! www.mymusicfolders.com and www.mychoirrobes.com
The best sight singing tool on the market. A must have for any band/choir or orchestra teacher and their students. In class and at home tools to build their literacy at their own pace. Enter “choralosophy” at checkout to get 10% off every time you renew at http://www.sightreadingfactory.com
Enter Choralosophy at checkout for a 10% Discount. Own your own site license with each PDF purchased. Print as many as you need!
Visit http://www.dciny.org to explore opportunities for your choir today!

Episode 103: Finding My Voice with Brittney E. Boykin

Advertisements 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 …

Episode 99: The World Imagined with Gabriel Jackson

Advertisements 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 …

Episode 98: You Are Your Story with Brent Morden, Michelle Pollino and Angel Eduardo

Advertisements 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. …

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

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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! 

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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 98: You Are Your Story with Brent Morden, Michelle Pollino and Angel Eduardo

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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

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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 96: “Real Men” Sing? with Braeden Ayres

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

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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

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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 88: Music is Inherently Raceless with Theron Jenkins

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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

YOUR 10 Favorite Episodes of 2021

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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!

YOUR 10 Favorite Episodes of 2021

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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!

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

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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 82: Are Merit-BasedStandards Racist? With Angel Eduardo

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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

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

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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 55: Music At the Intersection of Identities with Deborah Stephens

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In this conversation, Soprano Deborah Stephens and I engage in an open and raw conversation about many aspects of identity and how it effects our concepts of self as well as how this effects our view of the music world. We hit the hot button topics of our own identities and how we see ourselves, tokenism, stereotypes in musical tastes, blind auditions, appropriation, “who is this music for?” and much more. You won’t want to miss a minute of this one!

Episode 55
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Deborah Stephens

Deborah Stephens graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Georgia in December 2019 with a Bachelors of Music in Voice Performance. She is currently in a Master of Music in Early Music, Oratorio, & Chamber Ensemble at Yale University. In September 2017, Deborah founded and began to direct VERITAS Vocal Ensemble, a small group of 10 UGA students passionate about choral singing. VERITAS has performed on the UGA Student Spotlight Concert, many faculty and student recitals, and hosted a joint-ensemble benefit concert to support music education. Deborah currently enjoys speaking engagements at universities and on music podcasts, has been featured by Early Music America, and performs with professional choral ensembles such as Kinnara, Coro Vocati, and the Lake Junaluska Singers, and is a sought after freelance soloist.

Featured Links:

deborahsopranos.wix.com/debyousee

https://www.liftmusicfund.org/

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