2016 Conference Interest Sessions - Inspire

parkerAlice Parker

Alice Parker was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1925. Alice Parker’s life-work has been in choral and vocal music, combining composing, conducting and teaching in a creative balance. Her arrangements with Robert Shaw of folksongs, hymns and spirituals form an enduring repertoire for choruses all around the
world. She has been commissioned by such groups as the Vancouver Chamber Chorus, the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and  Chanticleer. No less an authority than Robert Shaw himself has said of Parker that "...she possesses a rare and creative musical intelligence."

In 1985, she founded Melodious Accord, Inc., a non-profit group which presents choral concerts, sponsors workshops, symposia, and her many professional appearances. Parker has published books on melodic styles, choral improvisation and Good Singing in Church. Her detailed analysis, The Anatomy of Melody,
was released in 2006. Five videos have appeared, showing her work with hymns and folksongs. She has been recognized by Chorus America, the American Guild of Organists, the American Choral Directors Association, The Hymn Society and Choral Arts New England for her lifetime contributions to choral music. She is the recipient of six honorary doctorates and the Smith College Medal.


mccoyJerry McCoy

Jerry McCoy was honored with the 2013 Texas Choral Directors Association’s Choirmaster Award, is Director of Choral Studies and Regents Professor of Music at the University of North Texas, where he conducts the A Cappella Choir and Grand Chorus, teaches graduate conducting and choral techniques, and guides the choral studies program. He is national chair of the Past-President’s Council of the American Choral Directors Association, a member of the INTERKULTUR international advisory board, and Music Director of Schola Cantorum of Texas.

He has served as guest conductor/clinician in thirty-seven US states, in addition to serving in guest roles in Austria, China, Cuba, Great Britain, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, and Venezuela.  Dr. McCoy’s choirs have sung refereed performances on the programs of four national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association (1997, 1999, 2005, 2013).  His choirs have also sung for the national conferences of the National Collegiate Choral Organization (2008), the Association of British Choral Directors (2000), the Music Educators National Conference (1992), and the Organization of American Kodaly Educators (1983). In addition, his choirs have given concerts and interest sessions for the Southwestern Division of ACDA (seven times since 1988), the Texas Choral Directors Association (2004 and 2011), and the Texas Music Educators Association (2004 and 2010). Guest engagements for 2013-2015 include appearances in Arkansas, Croatia, Greece, South Korea, California, Massachusetts, Washington, and Texas.

Under his leadership, the UNT A Cappella Choir was featured on the programs of the 9th Taipei (Taiwan) International Choral Festival (2009) and the 2nd Daejeon (Korea) International Choral Festival (2012). In 2011, he served as headliner for the Korean Federation for Choral Music national conference in Gyeongju, South Korea. In addition, his Choirs have given concerts with the Dallas Wind Symphony, the Abilene Symphony Orchestra, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Oklahoma Sinfonia, the New England Symphonic Ensemble, the Richardson Symphony Orchestra, the San Diego Chamber Orchestra, the Tucson (Arizona) Symphony Orchestra, the Schola Cantorum Festival Orchestra, and numerous university orchestras.

Since Dr. McCoy’s arrival at UNT in 2000, alumni of the UNT graduate choral studies program have earned positions in twenty-five colleges and universities across the USA, South Korea, and Mexico. 

He sang and recorded with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in New York City and throughout southern France, and with the Banff (Canada) Festival Chamber Choir led by distinguished Swedish conductor Eric Ericson.  Prior to joining the faculty at UNT, Dr. McCoy served as Director of Choral Activities at Oklahoma State University (1984-1994, 1995-2000), the University of Arizona (1994-1995), and Nicholls State University (1982-1984).

Tim Sharp

Tim Sharp is Executive Director of the American Choral Directors Association. Dr. Sharp pursues an aggressive agenda of progressive initiatives to keep ACDA energized and relevant in the 21st century, inspiring ACDA’s membership to excellence in choral music performance, education, composition, and advocacy. Tim is also in his fifth season as Artistic Director of the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus, Tulsa, where critics characterize his performances as having “stunning power” and “great passion and precision”.

Before coming to ACDA, Sharp was Dean of Fine Arts at Rhodes College, Memphis, where he conducted the Rhodes Singers and MasterSingers Chorale. Earlier, he was Director of Choral Activities at Belmont University where he conducted the Belmont Chorale and Oratorio Chorus.

Sharp’s publications include Mentoring in the Ensemble Arts, Precision Conducting, Up Front! Becoming the Complete Choral Conductor, Achieving Choral Blend and Balance, Memphis Music Before the Blues, Nashville Music Before Country, Jubilate! Amen!, Collaborative Creativity, and a variety of articles, essays, and CD liner notes. His most recent publication is the historical-critical edition Johannes Herbst: Hymns to be Sung at the Pianoforte. Published compositions and arrangements exhibit his interest in conceptual programming as seen in the collections Salvation is Created, An Early American Service of Lessons and Carols, the young voices series including Christmas Messiah for Young Voices, his own choral series through Gentry Publications, and A High Lonesome Bluegrass Mass, in which he regularly performs as a guest banjo player.

Tim received undergraduate degree at Belmont University, and his MCM and DMA degree from The School of Church Music, Louisville, KY. His post-doctoral work has taken place at the Aspen Music School, Aspen; the NEH Medieval Studies program at Harvard University; throughout Belgium on a Rotary Scholarship; and at Cambridge University, where he is a Clare Hall Life Fellow.



DemorestSteven M. Demorest
University of Washington
Tone Deafness and Other Myths
Singing is one of the earliest developing and most fundamental musical skills, but we don’t know as much as we should about how accurate singing develops and why it never develops for some children. Recently, a number of researchers from music education, psychology, and neuroscience have begun to explore systematically the prevalence of accurate singing in the general population. They have also started to identify possible perceptual, motor and neurological causes for inaccurate singing. This session reviews the latest research on singing accuracy and what it tells us about how teachers can better identify and remediate inaccurate singing.

westerhausDr. Timothy Westerhaus, Dr. Kyle Ferrill
Gonzaga University, University of Idaho
Exploring Bach’s Choir: Connecting Vocal Pedagogy, Leadership, and Performance Practice
A voice instructor and conductor-keyboardist present a collaborative performance of J. S. Bach’s cantata, Christ lag in Todesbanden. With students from two universities, they explore an alternative model of performing Bach’s cantatas with soloists, inspired by musicologists, such as Joshua Rifkin and Andrew Parrott. Christ lag in Todesbanden is an exemplary cantata for exploring alternative possibilities in performance: Bach’s position as organist—not Kantor—in Mühlhausen, the cantata’s vocal writing, and its multiple performances throughout Bach’s life. Issues include vocal pedagogy with Bach and young singers, leading from the continuo keyboard, performance practice, and collaboration between vocal and choral colleagues.

farahMariana Farah

University of Kansas
Beyond Salmo 150: The A Cappella Choral Music of Ernani Aguiar
Brazilian composer Ernani Aguiar has established himself as one of the most influential names on the contemporary Latin American scene. Although his compositions continue to gain international visibility, his name is mainly associated with his famous setting of Psalm 150. Salmo 150 remains among the most frequently performed Brazilian compositions in the U.S., yet conductors have limited understanding of Aguiar’s output and musical language. This session will explore Aguiar’s a cappella choral works, and also provide an overview of his life and famous psalm. Ultimately, this session will introduce new pieces to the American choral repertoire and discuss performance considerations.

browneandrewsDr. Bruce Browne ; Dr. Jenelle Andrews, Co-Presenter

Portland State University, Emeritus Professor; Pacific Univ. , Professor, and Progressive Rehabilitation Assoc., (respectively)
Stretching a Point here and there: preparing your body for a lifetime of physical activity
Since Dr. Harriet Simon's survey in the Choral Journal revealed that over 75% of the conductors surveyed experienced a wide assortment of debilitation or physical limitations, it has been well known that a career in conducting can induce a wide variety of short and long term impingements, especially in the back, neck and shoulders of the conductor.

In this session you'll learn how to take pro-active steps to make certain your body is (able to remain healthy during, and recover after, demanding rehearsals and performances. Dr. Andrews will work with audience members to demonstrate direct application of an array of positive techniques.

tateBrian Tate

City Soul Choir
Singing in the Groove: Connecting with our Rhythmic Roots
Gospel, spirituals, music of Africa and Latin America: choirs and audiences cannot seem to get enough of music with rhythmic roots. How can we best help our choirs connect to their natural sense of rhythm? This session gives participants an experience of the many facets of rhythm, including movement, clapping, and singing a variety of rhythmic styles of music. We will connect the body to the beat, the beat to the groove, and the groove to the song. You will also learn orally a variety of easy-to-learn (and teach) funky rounds, spirituals, gospel, and African songs.


crossDavid Cross

Vocal Jazz 101
An Instructor’s kit with 10 easy steps for starting your vocal jazz ensemble.
Paricipants will be led by discussion and hands-on involvement through the following topics:  audition process, music selection, programming suggestions, rehearsals, festivals, and the rhythm section, with specific tools helpful when developing the individual rhythm section instrumentalists.  Every participant will receive a bound booklet including specific information on the following areas:

1. Auditions - Selecting the voices and instrumentalists

2. Rhythm section techniques

3. Jazz choir Workshops, Clinics, Festivals

4. Rehearsal techniques, methods and materials

5. Recommended listening

6. Microphones; sound reinforcement made ... made easy

7. Where to go for help

8. Reference Listening

loehnigmimsDr. Jeremy Mims and Dr. Melissa Loehnig
Whitman College and Central Methodist University
Building Connections: Bridging the Gap between Conductors and Pianists
Often conductors and pianists have a difficult time communicating due to a myriad of misinformation and misunderstanding, resulting in a frustrating situation for both the choristers and leaders.

This session will explore the skills necessary to be a successful collaborator in the rehearsal room and performance space.  What are mistakes that conductors make when addressing pianists? What are realistic expectations that can be set when working together?  Mims, conductor and pianist, and Loehnig, pianist, will present commentary regarding communication between conductors and pianists, thereby enabling a discussion of effective rehearsal processes.


grahamSarah J. Graham, DMA & Cliff Jourdan, MME

Kaskaskia College (Illinois)
The Conductor's Connection to Better Mental Health
The purpose of this session is to suggest ways we might use ‘connection’ (through relation and communication) to reduce stress, seek balance, increase our overall effectiveness, find ways to re-focus and better our overall mental and physical health while doing what we love to do. This interactive session will focus on strategies we can bring to our professional lives as conductor teachers including interactions with ensemble members and colleagues, planning, rehearsals, and performance.

mckeeKurt McKee
Emerald Ridge High School, Puyallup, WA
MUSICAL MALPRACTICE:  Dumb Things We Do and How to Avoid Repeating our Failures
Failure is a part of life and part of being a choir director.   Failure can either be instructive or destructive--and many good things we accomplish have come from making mistakes, learning from them, then ensuring they never happened again.
This session deals with the actions we take that undermine our ability to be effective, musical, engaging, professional, or sane.  This topic is purposefully addressed from the negative standpoint in order to move toward the positive approach in our work with choirs. 
It will be interactive and provide attendees opportunities to examine their current practices for areas of needed growth.

muehleisenJohn Muehleisen
Muehleisen Music
Taking the Mystery Out of Commissioning New Choral Works
This session will answer common questions about how to commission new choral works, including "How do I approach a composer to initiate a commission?" and "How do we justify spending money on a commission?" Topics will include Engaging & Collaborating with Composers, Commissioning Costs, Funding Models & Sources, Contracts, Non-Commission Collaboration Options, and Composer Residencies. There will also be two brief Case Studies featuring a conductor/ensemble experienced with commissioning big-name composers and a conductor/ensemble who recently commissioned their first new choral work. Attendees will receive additional resources, including links to a directory of Pacific Northwest Composers and to Commissioning Guidelines.

billinghamLisa A. Billinghamvivace
George Mason University
Laban Movement Theory: Body and Shape Concepts for the Choral Rehearsal
Laban Movement Theory (LMT) is a process for labeling and recalling human movement in four component areas:  Body, Effort, Shape, and Space. This workshop will use a choir from Cascade High School, directed by Laurie Cappello, to demonstrate

cappelloa series of effective and creative physical and vocal exercises for an inspirational rehearsal followed by a brief application of LMT to the choral score. A movement sequence will be introduced to create a wide range of motion for both conductor and choir member.  Participants will leave the workshop with a heightened personal kinesthetic awareness, and an understanding of how to integrate movement to create more effective rehearsals.


porterC. Michael Porter
Boise State University
Connecting the Dots: Creating Warm Ups to Match Your Repertoire
Conductors agree that a productive choral warm up often results in an equally productive rehearsal. However, an exhaustive warm up that address every technical aspect can be time consuming. How can conductors make efficient use of the choral warm up while ensuring these concepts are effectively applied to their repertoire?

This interest session will identify ways to include elements from the literature being rehearsed into creative warm ups. Ultimately, the conductor will achieve a successful transfer of knowledge from the warm up period to the selected literature, and will aid the choir in learning repertoire more quickly.


munsenDr. Sylvia Munsen
Utah State University
Developing Expressive Singing
This session will present strategies for developing expressive singing and independent musicianship skills throughout the rehearsal, especially focusing on the vocal preparation period.  Connections between vocal preparation and rehearsal of literature will be emphasized with primary focus on the musical phrase as the foundation of musical experience and understanding.  A variety of musical devices and techniques utilizing the whole body will demonstrate how to achieve:  breath management, dynamics, legato/staccato, in-tune singing using solfege, production of vowels and consonants, and expressive phrasing.  Strategies will be shared for self-evaluation/assessment skills of the singers with suggestions for guiding singers to make aesthetic choices.


glennCarole Glenn
Music for Healing and Transition Program
"Music As a Powerful Force For Healing"
Health and Wellness, General Interest
Participants will explore the subtle aspects of live music that may bring comfort and a sense of well-being to both the musicians and those who hear their music.  The clinician will share how her own life experiences as a choral conductor led her to become a Certified Music Practitioner for hospice and hospital patients.  Topics include stories of patients, the difference between "healing" and "curing," the difference between "performance" and "service,"  how intention might affect stress and stage fright, the use of appropriate texts, the healing qualities of music elements, and therapeutic music training organizations in the US.


macmullenKristina Caswell MacMullen
The Ohio State University
The Senses Collide: Connecting Artful Movement and Dynamic Formation in Performance
Kinesthetic connections activate the spirit, mind and body, enhancing both technical and expressive pathways. This session will present movement principles partnered with art music in the context of traditional choral performance. The models explored in this session seek to augment the meaning and potency of the repertoire performed. Topics include the connection of body and mind, the role of singer formation and formation changes in expressing an extra-musical end, visual impact, physical improvisation in the context of performance, and the critical role of program conception as it relates to movement and formation.


aamotKirk Aamot
Montana State University
Preparing for a Successful First-Year Teaching Experience
A panel of music educators at various stages of their teaching careers will answer questions and share what they have learned about how to make your first year of teaching a success.  If you are preparing for your first job, have recently accepted a new position, or are just looking for some fresh ideas to enhance your teaching, this session will include practical advice on how to thrive in your career.  Questions the panel will discuss include: What were you least prepared to do when you started teaching?  What have you learned about relating to students that you wish you would have known earlier?  What resources do you rely on now that you would recommend to new teachers?  Members of the panel will share from their experience and will answer questions from the audience.


wangJun Wang
ICEP Conductor
Chinese Choruses: One Hundred Years
Vice director of conducting committee in China Choral Association, Vice chairman of Guangdong Choral Association and Chairman of Zhongshan Choral Association, Jun Wang- is a famous choral conductor in China. He was a conductor of “China National Choir” (was the best choir in China) in Beijing. Graduated from Shanhai Conservatory of Music, Western Michigan University and Peabody Conservatory of Music majoring in conducting. Jun Wang worked as music conductor in University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, Xiamen Opera House, Hubei Opera House, Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra, and now is the Artistic director of “Zhongshan Choir”, “Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra Choir” and the guest conducting professor in Xinhai conservatory of music in Guandong. Jun Wang’s conducting work spread all over the world in choral and symphony area and under his directing the choirs got a number of gold medals at a variety national and international choral conducting competitions.