Interest sessions at the 2012 Conference

"Yes, but what else did you do at the NW ACDA conference besides listen to great choirs sing?"

Lest your adminstrator, department chair, or other executive in your school or church ask you what you learned at the conference in Seattle March 15-18, 2012, let's take a look at all the opportunities presented.

It was a virtual potpourri of master teachers offering classes...sure, we call them "Interest Session," but they were superb learning opportunities. Judging from the wonderful attendance...even at those sessions offered as early as 8:00 a.m., our attendees jumped all over these presentations.

Vocal jazz
For the jazz choir enthusiasts, it was the "Jazz Choir Roundtabldemieroe" entitled, "We have the questions, you bring the answers!" This one was headed up by masters of the art, Kirk Marcy and Frank DeMiero.

A second jazz session had Jeff Horenstein, lately of TV fame from participation with his group, "Groove for Thought," on "The Sing-Off," but also director of choral music at Meadowdale High School in Lynnwood, talked about developing the total ensemble...getting the most from your jazz singers and rhythm section.

Natalie Wilson, another jazz artist who teaches in the public schools (Grass Valley Elementary School), gave some direction to those working with elementary school vocal jazz programs.

Then, of course, we can't forget the "Music for Jazz Choirs" reading session led by Charlotte Reese which offered some wonderful music choices to take home and put to use. Frank DeMiero put the packets together.

Getting technical in a simple way may seem like an oxymoron, but Emile Amrein who is assistant professor of music and director of choral activities at Lake Forest College and artistic director of the Chicago Choral Artists, presented her "cued speech" method for communicating the sounds of language through a series of hand gestures.

It's a method designed to efficiently teach music in other languages. Her session was called "Making the Text Move."

Alan McClung, from the University of North Texas, stresses putting one's pedagogical skills in an appropriate order as well as getting all the tools together to teach sight singing skills annetworkingd isolate pitches.

Paul Schultz, one of the northwest's premiere choral leaders, talked of such practical matters as proper score marking...techniques leading to expressive interpretation based on musical elements such as music and text.

"It's not magic," says Terry Annalora of Custer County High School in Montana. Terry presented a series of warm-ups he has found effective in building mature, full, and energized tone. Lindsay Wilkerson, a former student of Annalora's, now a choral director, herself, was a co-presenter and helped in showing an audio-visual program as evidence of the effect these warm-ups have on their students in Miles City, Montana.

Musical clues in the score are often left by composers for us to discover, said Graeme Langager of the University of British Columbia. He stressed that choristers of any age will benefit from understanding what to look for in the score other than simple dynamic markings...this in his session called "Chasing Phrases! Moving Away from the Note Chasing Paradigm in Your Choral Rehearsal."

Two important sessions were held on the subject of collaboration. sharp

Collaboration between voice teachers and choral conductors is the best way to develop a choral sound, according to Lori Wiest and Julie Anne Wieck. It was actually a quasi-master class in voice, offering some very practical advice.

Executive Director of ACDA, Tim Sharp clearly pointed out the need for successful collaboration with other groups and organizations. He talked of identifying a unifying goal, of inciting a common value of teamwork, of speaking the language of collaboration, and of initiating and enjoying the results of collaboration.

Practical classroom matters
Lauren Whitham made it perfectly clear that managing a classroom is about communicating clear and consistent expectations. She talked of organizing and streamlining management in the classroom and provided ten guidelines to help teachers formulate their own classroom management plan.

Just what does your choir mean to your students? Andrea Ramsey of Michigan State University, offered some insights as she as collected over 200 responses from student singers. Andrea contends that using the words of these students helps a director plan for instruction and shape the rehearsal environment.

Kurt McKee's interest session was definitely on a practical subject...recruiting and retaining singers as well as growing one's program...even in a time of budget constraints.

For the first year teacher or someone anticipating a first year, attending the "Preparing for a Successful First-year Teaching Experience" had to be helpful. Panelists included Lori Wiest (WSU), Rachel Landowski, Jennifer Cantley, and Katrina Rooney. Kirk Aamot moderated the panel discussion.

One doesn't always link the benefits of Pilates to choral conducting technique. But that was exactly what Brian and Kristi Galante did in the session. They talked of developing strength, balance, and core as they introduced conditioning exercises expressly for the choral conunterseherductor. It's like a matter of "preventative maintenance," according to the Galante's.

Other engaging topics
No less important, but falling into no specific category, we also enjoyed "A Fresh Look at Literature and Programming for Male Chorus," presented by Cameron LaBarr.

E-Publishing was a session that explored the variety of music only available directly from composers. One interesting feature of this presentation by Reginald Unterseher was that it was paperless. Participants were encouraged to bring a laptop or tablet device.

Stan Harris, of Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska, had a unique session on the subject of devleoping a choral program in a remote area of the world. How does it differ as to individual student instruction, ensemble focus, literature and concert programming?

Should I take my choir on a retreat? Jcamposohn Baker, recently retired from a career at Rex Putnam High School in Oregon, gave some practical advice and even a DVD covering recorded examples of how effective a retreat can be.

For the choir director in the Christian Church
New Testament scholar, Valerie Nicolet Anderson and doctoral student Jeshua Franklin presented historically understood atonement theories, passion oriented texts for the church.

Collegiate Quiz Bowl
Also back for the 2012 conference, the Collegiat Quiz Bowl. Teams of four students, each from a separate university, showed their knowledge of choral music, NW ACDA history, and general musical knowledge.

International Exchange Conductors Project
Cuban choral conductor Corina Campos, director of the renowned Vocal Leo, visted Seattle and Pullman as part of this exchange program. Her presentation was full of vitality and her presentation demonstrated her deep love and knowledge of the choral art. readingNine reading sessions offer nice options

Reading session leaders for the 2012 conference included Katherine FitzGibbon, women's voices, Ryan Batcheller, high school choirs, Vicky Thomas, music in worship, Peter Robb, music for boys and community youth, Charlotte Reese, jazz choirs, John Buehler, music for community choirs, Steven Zopfi, university choirs, Julia Kole, middle school and junior high school choirs, and Heather Prinzing, music for men's choirs.