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Nothing earthshaking a good thing; Nance reports on growth of NW ACDA, state activities serving members, as he wraps up his two years as president

NWACDA President’s Column
June, 2010
Richard Nance

nanceThis morning I sat down to write my last column as President of the Northwestern Division, and I began to think back on my term and what I could say about it that would be lasting and profound.  I have to admit I don’t know that I have anything earthshaking to report, and that may not be such a bad thing! 

State of flux; two years ago
When I entered this office the national organization was in great flux—there had been a huge turnover of personnel in the national office and ACDA was working its way through some new policy issues, some financial problems, and a membership crisis.  Thanks to the good work of the national board led by Hilary Apfelstadt and Jerry McCoy, as well as Executive Director Tim Sharp, many of those issues have seemingly been ironed out, or at least mitigated for the time being. 

Attracting and serving our members
We exist in a tough economy—everyone knows that—and ACDA, like most professional organizations, is going to have to continue to work hard to serve its members in ways that are truly beneficial, or they will simply find other, more necessary (at least in their minds) ways to spend their money. 

Attracting choral professionals who are willing to spend a portion of their discretionary income on a new membership will continue to be a great challenge.  Many of our potential and existing members already belong to another professional organization because their students participate in honor choirs sponsored by that group.  It can be difficult to obtain permission to be gone from a job for more than one professional conference per year.  These are powerful arguments to overcome when trying to maintain present members and attract new ones.  ACDA needs all its members to be “evangelists” if you will, to make it clear to all choral professionals that this organization is necessary, something they must not be without, even in challenging financial times.

I came into office believing that this cause was going to be the one I would champion, that I would lead my board in a powerful new membership initiative, and we would find ways to better serve our constituents beyond offering an outstanding division conference. 

So, how have we done, what has been accomplished?  Well, we can start by saying that the hard work each state has done to increase membership has resulted in a net gain of 142 members in the division since July of last year!  I look at this as a very positive development considering the economic conditions we have operated under, however we absolutely must continue our efforts to retain and recruit members in all of the R & S areas of ACDA, in each of our six states. 

NW ACDA Finances
There is good news on the financial front as well.  Though our operating budget is going to come out slightly in the red for the last fiscal year, thanks to conservative budgeting, outstanding registration (411 attendees) and the fact that we booked the same great venues in Seattle for the 2012 and 2014 conferences (at better rates!), our conference budget came out slightly in the black.  Our finances are in terrific shape, due in no small part to the efforts of treasurer Carol Stewart-Smith.  Thanks, Carol!

States remain active in serving constituents
The state presidents in our division have reported several outstanding activities over the past year.  All of them report the expected struggles with membership retention and recruitment, but have good initiatives under way to counteract this. 

In Oregon, Sue Schreier reports that new members who join ACDA can attend the annual summer workshop for half price.  College students or recent graduates can attend for free, giving them a great opportunity to experience what ACDA has to offer at no cost.  In an effort to increase numbers in the area of sacred music, Tim Sharp will be conducting all sacred music sessions at this summer’s workshop.  ACDA will provide three reading sessions at the state OMEA conference this year in return for a free booth in the exhibits.  In an effort to appeal to all constituents, Oregon will be sponsoring a state Men’s and Women’s choir festival.  To enter a choir, directors must be members of ACDA.  Finally, OACDA is committed to find ways to be a professional resource and support system for choral teachers whose loads have been cut back or completely eliminated by their districts, as well as teachers from other disciplines that find themselves teaching choir for the first time.  

Idaho ACDA sponsored their annual retreat last October, which featured Timothy Seelig as clinician.  Also in October, IACDA sponsored their annual non-mixed choir festival, with clinics by Loren Wenz.  The state board is exploring the possibility of sponsoring a statewide choral celebration, allowing choirs from the diverse geographical regions of the state to come together for a State Gold-Silver-Bronze event.  Efforts are also underway to review and evaluate the state’s choral adjudication form.  Thanks to Quinn VanPaepeghem and his officers for their work on behalf of ACDA. 

In Montana, Patrick Ryan reports that 500 elementary and middle school students participated in the 13th Annual Montana Youth Sing, sponsored by MCDA.  MCDA also commissioned a work for the 2009 Montana All State Choir. 

In Wyoming ACDA sponsored the 15th Annual Children’s Honor Choir, with 135 singers participating, and WYACDA contributed money toward the bi-annual Collegiate Choral Festival. 

Thanks to a great effort by Rebecca Rhodes Nelson, Alaska ACDA elected a full new slate of officers and began to move toward being a much more active organization.  For 2010-2011, under the leadership of Alaska ACDA's new president, Richard Moore, initiatives include the addition of sight-reading for the All-State Choir auditions, institution of a Men's Choir at the State level (it would join a Mixed and Women's choir), adoption of an approved solo/ensemble list.

Washington ACDA sponsored the first Winter Workshop in January.  The workshop was free for ACDA members, and $35 for non-members.  Several attendees joined ACDA upon registering, knowing that the additional $50 fee for non-members at the Summer Institute would completely cover the $85 ACDA membership fee.  Marc Hafso reports “participants were unanimous in both their praise of the workshop and agreed that if this were offered annually, they would ‘get their money’s worth’ and become renewing members.”   WA-ACDA will host a fall workshop in Spokane this September.  Last July, over 200 registrants attended the Washington ACDA Summer Institute, with two and a half days of reading and interest sessions.  The headline clinician was Charlene Archibeque.  This year’s institute will feature Sandra Snow and Jonathan Reed.

At the division level
At the division level, R & S chairs reviewed session proposals and helped select and implement the interest sessions that were presented at the conference.  R & S chairs also were charged to select literature and lead eleven reading sessions offered at the conference. 

Our division continues to lead the way with its new member initiative, in which a free first-year membership is given as a gift to all students graduating with an undergraduate degree in choral music education. 

Under Gary Weidenaar’s Youth and Student Activities Committee, forty-five college and university students worked important jobs at the division conference.  At a number of our colleges and universities, student ACDA chapters have sprung up and are thriving.  There is good hope for our future!    

In my April and May columns I gave a recap of our 2010 division conference.  I was extremely proud of every aspect of that event, and of the people who worked so hard to make it happen.  As I said at the beginning of this article, however, one of my goals as president was to develop ways NWACDA can be a better resource to its members on a daily basis, not just through great conferences. 

I hope this article gives you some idea of what your leaders are doing on a daily basis on behalf of the organization--we owe them a great debt of thanks.  A new slate of officers now takes over the division, and I have every confidence that with your help, they will continue this good work.  They and future generations of leadership will need new people to step up and join them in important roles, and it is my hope that many of the bright, young people I have seen enter the profession over the past few years will enthusiastically respond. 

Thanks to all who have worked so hard for me during my time as division president.  It has been a pleasure to serve ACDA! 


2012 and 2014 divisional conferences to be held...YES, in Seattle! Room rates lowered by 20% at Sheraton; 2012 dates set for March 15-18, Thursday through Sunday

NWACDA President’s column, May 2010
Richard Nance

Inance am pleased to announce that the 2012 and 2014 Northwestern Division Conferences will be held in Seattle, at the same venues we used with such great success at our conference last March! 

This decision was made at a meeting of the Executive Committee following the final events of the 2010 conference.  As the committee reviewed the conference schedule and talked about how everything had gone, we came to the realization that the city of Seattle, the Sheraton Hotel, Town Hall, Plymouth Congregational Church and First Presbyterian Church had worked extremely well for us.  The personnel at all the venues had been courteous and efficient, and the spaces were the right size, with acoustics that were excellent for singing.  The downtown core in Seattle offered plenty of places to eat, and though a bit of walking was involved in getting to the performance venues, they were certainly close enough to accommodate the conference schedule and the needs of attendees.  There was plenty for honor choir students to do while they were not rehearsing. 

We knew parking was going to be expensive if not prohibitive going into the conference, and we had tried to let members know about that ahead of time.  The light rail system in from the airport and park and ride lots had worked brilliantly. 

We heard from some members that the hotel room cost was too high, and we agreed that we needed to work on that with the help of our National Executive Director, Tim Sharp.  Overall, the response from attendees at the conference had been extremely positive--people really enjoyed their experience in Seattle!

Tim Sharp entered the picture as we went into negotiations for new contracts with the Sheraton, and working together with the hotel we now have a fantastic rate of $135 per room for both 2012 and 2014!  This is $34 less per night than this year’s rate--a wonderful deal for a very high end hotel property in downtown Seattle.

This move represents the first time that our division has not rotated our conference from site to site, and I realize this is a shift in thinking for some members.  However, in an organization the rotates officers every two years staying in one site that we know works well can be a huge time saver.  It makes the planning process much less complicated, and much of the unknown risk factors are totally removed.  We know how the conference site works, we’ve worked with the people at the venues before, and we know what to expect.  In short, it makes the job of the planning committee much, much easier, even for officers that are not from Washington.  The Executive Committee viewed this as a no-brainer! 

I hope you are excited as I am about this wonderful development, and will make plans to join us in Seattle again in 2012!  My thanks to all who worked so hard to make this decision a reality.


Richard Nance lauds conference committee; sums up the divisional conference in Seattle
NWACDA President’s Column – April 1, 2010

Inancet has been just over two weeks since the closing concert of the 2010 Northwestern Division Conference, and I am still amazed when I think about the magnificent way all the work put in by so many people came together over the course of those four days. 

Everyone--the planning committee, the conductors of the choirs, the singers, the people who worked behind the scenes, all of us in NWACDA have much to be proud of.  

The conference featured fabulous performances by all the auditioned choirs, representing a broad spectrum of repertoire and standards areas as well as five of the six states in our division.   

The honor choir concerts were absolutely the finest I have ever seen, as four fantastic conductors led hundreds of our students through musical, artful peuniversity-music-service-adrformances of great repertoire.  Accolades from grateful students and their parents are still coming in.   

There were wonderful interest sessions, great reading sessions that covered a huge variety of repertoire, and a well-integrated, highly spiritual worship service.  The club atmosphere of the downstairs area of Town Hall was perfect for our Jazz Night, and Moonlight Madness was a hit with our exhibitors. 

And who will ever forget the performances by our guest choirs—the grace, charm and interesting repertoire presented by the Crystal Children’s Choir, the rousing energy of the Soweto Gospel Choir, and the incredible tone, technical skill and artistry of the Phoenix Chorale?  I could go on and on!

The Sheraton Hotel worked very well as the base for our conference.  My thanks go to the hotel staff for their kindness and professionalism.  Every need was immediately met with a smile and a “can do” attitude.  The venues also were outstanding. 

Conductors have been complimentary about their experiences in Town Hall and First Presbyterian, and I thought Plymouth Congregational was perfectly suited as the site for the worship service.  And attendees enjoyed all the great dining, shopping and energy that downtown Seattle has to offer.

From the perspective of the CEO of the organization, I could not have asked for a better performance by the conference committee.  I know I have thanked these people before, but no amount of thanks is enough for Paul Aitken, Linda Berg, Ben Brody, Twyla Brunson, Duane Cottrell, Frank DeMeiro, Amy Fuller, Karen Fulmer, Brian Galante, John Hendrix, Solveig Holmquist, Kurt McKee, Bob Meek, Russ Otte, Michael Sagun, Carol Stewart-Smith, Gary Weidenaar and Stacy Wynn.  Each of them had a critical part to play in the success of the 2010 conference, and they carried it off brilliantly! 

Several of the honor choir conductors, interest session presenters, conductors of guest choirs and members of the national office staff came to me specifically to say how special their experience was at this conference, and what an amazing talent and commitment to the choral art there is in the Northwestern division—different and unique from what they had experienced in other larger divisions.  They commented on the positive “vibe” and energy they had found, the friendly nature and camaraderie they had observed among our members.  Many had never been to Seattle, and of course they immediately fell in love with the city.  We must count ourselves blessed to live and work where we do—it is indeed special!



March 1, 2010

Richard Nance asks you to spread the word; pieces are in place for a fantastic conference

nanceDear Friends and Colleagues,

It’s hard to believe, but today is March 1st, and in less than two weeks, the 2010 Northwestern division conference will be history!  For those of us on the planning committee, I can tell you that this is a great time of anticipation.  We are confident that all the major pieces of the conference are in place, and yet we know there are still seemingly hundreds of minute details to be taken care of.  We’re on the job, and I am confident it will all come together in an outstanding way.

I would like to ask all of you to help spread the last-minute word about this fantastic event to every choral professional you know, whether or not they belong to ACDA.  Encourage them to attend—be an advocate for ACDA and all it has to offer our profession.  And if you yourself have not decided to attend, I hope you will. 

I have often spoken to ACDA members who have never attended one of our conferences.  I hear about how expensive it is to attend, or that it is difficult to attend both MENC and ACDA conferences each year.  No doubt, it costs a good deal of money to attend professional conferences, and these days not many of our institutions are picking up all--if any--of the tab.  But these events provide opportunities for choral professionals to grow, to recharge, to be inspired by unforgettable performances, to learn from each other and from renowned experts, and perhaps most importantly--to connect with others that do what we do.  The growth one experiences at an ACDA conference cannot be replicated in other ways, and every choral professional should make attending a priority—it is an investment in the spirit, in what drives us to be excellent.

If you are coming to the conference but have not yet booked your hotel, I encourage you to stay at the conference hotel--the Sheraton.   It is very important to the conference budget to have our block of rooms at the hotel filled.  This helps us to be able to afford the use of hotel meeting space.  More than that, it lends much to the spirit of the conference to have the hotel filled with ACDA members, their choirs, and honor choir students!  One word of caution, parking at the hotel is expensive, so the better option is mass transit to the hotel.  Try the new Link light rail for a very low-cost, efficient option.

And so, here it is—the 2010 ACDA Northwestern Division Conference.  I hope to see you there!

Richard Nance, President
Northwestern Division
American Choral Directors Association


Conference March 10-13, 2010 brings out the best in our profession

by Richard Nance, President, NW ACDA
November 16, 2009

nanceAs I write this column it is a blustery, rainy, and chilly morning here in Puyallup, Washington.  We are truly in the throes of fall.  My son blew the leaves and debris off our patio and deck on Saturday to no avail—they are covered once more after last night’s winds!  Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and then comes the Christmas rush! 

Very soon NWACDA members will receive a brochure with details about the Seattle conference, which will be held March 10-13. I always think it is exciting to receive the registration brochure, whether it is for a national or divisional conference. 

These are events that bring the best of our profession together, that recharge our enthusiasm for the choral art, and that provide the opportunity for fellowship wad-gospel-choralith friends and colleagues that we may see only once every two years. 

It is at ACDA conferences that I always find those repertoire gems, the perfect piece that I have been searching for to fill a need in my program.  I am informed about performance practice, about teaching techniques that I can use to be a better conductor and choral pedagogue, and that I can pass on to my students. 

Conferences are a chance to get away for a few days, to be absorbed in the art I love and not have to worry about all the endless administrative details I face on a day-to-day basis (well, except when I am a division officer in charge of a conference!).  ACDA conferences have been career shaping for me, and years later they are events that are vividly remembered by my colleagues and myself.

The 2010 NWACDA Conference in Seattle continues along a line of outstanding events put on by our division. 

The auditions for spots on the conference program were outstanding, and the selection committee was able to choose twenty-three choirs, representing five of the six states in our division and nearly ecrystalvery R & S area.  This speaks to the depth of choral excellence in the Northwest! 

Three world-class guest choirs will also join us:  the Crystal Children’s Chorus from San Francisco, the Phoenix Chorale (2008 Grammy-award winner) and the Soweto Gospel Choir (2006 and 2007 Grammy-award winner).  Tickets to concerts by these groups will be included in the full registration fees, which are among the lowest of all the divisions. 

We have worked hard to bring to our members a well rounded, highly artistic program of great variety and interest, while keeping the cost as low as possible.  The conference schedule offers numerous interest sessions, led by experts in the field of choral music.  Reading sessions will be offered for nearly all the R & S areas, and there will be conducting masterclasses for collegiate students.

The conference venues are among the best in Seattle, and include Town Hall, a facility used by many of the cities fintownhallest professional music organizations.  Concerts will also be held in First Presbyterian Church, which has a lovely acoustic, and Plymouth Congregational Church will be the site of our conference music in worship event. 

The beautiful Seattle Sheraton Hotel will be our home for four days, conveniently situated to the performance venues and all the amenities downtown Seattle can offer.  There is great shopping in this area of the city, plus plenty of fine restaurants, with menus for every budget.

Transportation in and out of Seattle is very convenient, and beginning in December, the new light rail system will carry passengers from SEATAC airport to downtown, dropping off at the Westlake Center, only a few blocks from the Sheraton Hotel.  This will be a very inexpensive way to get to and from the airport if you are flying in for the conference.  Transit buses are also available, and are free in the downtown area.  Parking downtown is expensive, so we encourage members to car pool or use mass transit when possible.

NWACDA webmaster Howard Meharg has done a beautiful job with a page that gives information about the choirs selected for the conference and their conductors, and information about sessions and the presenters.  A preview of the conference schedule will be posted before December.  Conference registration is available online at the national website:, or you can send in your pre-registration form by mail. 

I hope you will make plans to join us in Seattle in March!  This event promises to continue in a long line of excellent conferences hosted by the Northwest division!


July 2009

New memberships up, renewals down, yet ACDA continues to thrive and streamline through tough economic times; Nance reports on national leadership meeting

Last month I attended the annual ACDA national board meeting in Oklahoma City.  It is a great honor to represent the Northwestern Division in meetings with my distinguished colleagues, and to be a part of the inner circle of ACDA leadership. 

We reviewed the success of the past national conference held in Oklahoma City, we received an update on plans for the next national, which will be held in Chicago, and each division president gave a report about their conference that will occur in 2010. 

It was amazing to listen to these reports—the depth of the divisional conferences has become almost on par with nationals.  Ours is no exception, as we experienced in the fantastic Vancouver conference and now are looking forward to in Seattle. 

The division board is meeting on July 25th and much of our time will be devoted to ironing out many details for the conference.  There will be information about the results of our work coming to you in early August. 

At the national board meeting Executive Director Tim Sharp reported that the important national membership initiative has had a positive effect, and even though there has been a decline in overall membership numbers, it has not been as severe as was predicted, and certainly not as severe as experienced by other national organizations. 

The financial status of the national organization is much more stable than a year ago, and the national office continues to streamline procedures and work in a much more efficient and economical way. 

The Northwest Division showed a decline of 67 members between April 2008 and May 2009.  The only state in our division to show an increase was Wyoming, up by six student memberships.  The overall decrease came in spite of great efforts put forth by the state presidents and their boards. 

Interestingly, the recruitment of new members has been very successful.  The decline can mainly be attributed to the lack of retention of longtime members.  There are lots of factors that have to do with this, but I believe two are primary.  The economy, of course, is the first of these.  In times when many people are making tough choices with their budgets, it is perhaps easy for an ACDA membership to be seen as a frill that can be cut out.   An $85 payment to a single month’s budget can be difficult for some people, especially those that have been laid off from their jobs.  The national leadership is considering a possible monthly payment program, and at some point automatic payments might be set up.  This may make paying for membership more palatable to those who need a little help. 

Another factor is that 2008-2009 was not a year for divisional conferences.  National statistics show that in years when division conferences are held, membership typically goes up.  These statistics point to the retention factor as well—apparently many people join ACDA in division conference years because they want to attend the conference and/or have students involved in honor choirs, and have to be a member to do so.  The following year, they let their memberships lapse, then rejoin when the next division conference comes around.

One of the initiatives I brought to the division board last year was to find ways that ACDA can be more of an every day resource for its members, and not to be so conference driven.  The national organization is beginning to look at this as well.  An example of this is the dramatic transformation the national website ( has seen over the last year.  Not only has it been brought up to date in look and functionality, it now contains useful elements for members only.  Some examples include access to the Choral Journal in pdf format and interactive articles from the journal with links to resources on the web. 

There is access to Chor Teach, ACDA’s new online magazine for choral director/music educators who are searching for answers and need fresh ideas or techniques to meet practical needs.  The articles are interactive, and are the best of those published in state and division newsletters. 

You can view video clips of performances at ACDA conferences, and download mp3 files of individual songs and entire performances of selected choirs.  You can order DVDs of performances and interest sessions.  There is an ACDA networking center that contains links to state chapter web pages, job postings, and discussion forums.  The development of the website is ongoing, and it will be fun and exciting to see the amazing resource it can become.  I encourage you to explore it and share it with your colleagues!

We will continue to discuss ways that ACDA can be a better resource on the divisional level at our board meeting on July 25th.  I solicit your comments about this—what would you like to see from ACDA that we are currently not providing?    What are your ideas for retaining current members and recruiting new ones?  I welcome your input, and will bring these ideas to the board for consideration.  Drop me an e-mail at richard.nance at

Links to great video clips: “Choruses Lead The Way”  “National ACDA Service at the OKC Memorial”



Nance reports on membership drive and convention venues; Seattle 2010
President's Report, October 2008

nanceFall greetings! 
I hope this column finds you well into the swing of your fall choral schedule, and that things are up and running smoothly.  It always takes so much energy to get auditions done, singers placed, music programmed and out, and rehearsals launched.  Next thing you know, the holidays will be here (sorry to point that out!).

As I promised in September, I want to dedicate this column to talking about our venues for the 2010 convention. 

But first...membership initiative update
However, I first want to give you an update on the membership initiative, which should be the first concern of all ACDA members.  There is some good news to report.  First, the figures for members renewing after having fallen off the rquoteolls is encouraging.  Apparently those phone calls are having a good effect, so keep up the good work on that front. 

As for brand new members, including new active, student and associate members, the gains have been modest but at least positive—up by 13% nationally since April.  Within the northwestern division, we are up three members in Alaska, down one member in Idaho, up one in Montana, up fifteen in Oregon, up two in Washington, and up fourteen in Wyoming. 

As I said, this is good news, but obviously we have a long way to go.  I think it is important to point out that this membership initiative will only succeed if every ACDA member gets involved, not just people in leadership positions.   I reiterate, if each one of us would bring just one new member to ACDA this year, it would easily solve our immediate financial issues and bring new resilience to the organization.

Convention venues
Seattle promises to be a very exciting destination for our 2010 convention.  We have great venues lined up for every aspect of the convention, beginning with the Sheraton Hotel Seattle:

The Sheraton is right in the middle of the action in downtown Seattle, close to all sorts of shopping and dining.  The hotel has greatly expanded and remodeled since our last gathering in Seattle, and will house all convention registrants, including honor choir members.  There are two floors of convention space, with large, well-appointed ballrooms that will be used for sessions, honor choir rehearsals, honor choir meals and exhibits. 

Two churches in the immediate area will be used for honor choir rehearsals, Plymouth Congregational Church (where the Children’s Honor Choir rehearsed last time) and First Presbyterian Church (which was the primary concert venue last time).  At this point in time, First Presbyterian will be the venue for the honor choir concerts, although we are also in negotiations with Benaroya Hall for that event, and will not know more until the Seattle Symphony posts their schedule in January.  Plymouth and First Presbyterian are both lovely churches with great acoustics for singing.

Our primary concert venue will be Town Hall, a beautifully renovated church that dates from 1922, now home to many of Seattle’s finest arts and cultural organizations.

The great hall has a thrust that adapts the stage to a size suitable for our needs, and a vibrant acoustic that is warm, clear and supportive.  My community choir has performed there and found it to be very rewarding. 

If you would like a great performance venue for your choir in the middle of the downtown core of one of America’s greatest cities, singing for an audience that really supports and values what you do, I encourage you to think about auditioning your choir for the 2010 convention!

Venues very close...easy walk
One of the most oft-repeated positive comments about our 2008 convention was the great appreciation people had for the convention being housed in three venues that were very close together.  I’m not sure we could ever hope to do that as well as we could with those particular sites in Vancouver (I hope we go back there very soon!), but in Seattle all our venues are within an easy walk for most people, and we will be working to provide transportation for those who might have problems with even small distances. 

Know that we appreciate your comments, and do everything we can to provide the best accommodations for the convention while still maintaining the high performance venue standards ACDA members have come to expect. 

Obviously, convention planning will hit its full stride following the national convention in March, and we will be calling for applications for session presentations and performing groups very soon.  I hope you and your singers will join us in Seattle!

National convention (Click here to register...>)
Speaking of the national convention—GO!  We need you there in March.  The schedule that as been laid out shows a fabulous convention program in a much more user-friendly format of just two tracks.  In some ways this harkens back to the early days of ACDA conventions, when there were large audiences for the performances and those in attendance could more easily connect with friends and colleagues. 

Oklahoma City has turned into one of America’s finest small cities, with many new hotels and restaurants.  The venues for the convention are outstanding, and this will be an opportunity for you to visit the “home” of ACDA.  I hope to see you there!

  Paid advertisementnw-music-publishers

Membership crisis brings call for action; personal, state, divisional goals outlined by Richard Nance

President’s Column: August 31, 2008
by Richard Nance
Saturday, August 23rd was a very productive day as your NW-ACDA board met in a daylong session in Seattle.  I am so pleased to have such an outstanding group of leaders on the board.  Their optimism and creativity amazed me as we discussed several important issues. 

We had the opportunity to take a first blush look at the venues for the 2010 division convention—they are truly outstanding, and I will give you some details in an article in October, so stay tuned!  I must dedicate this column to the primary topic of discussion during our meeting, which is of vital concern to all ACDA members and to our organization—loss of membership and the impact this has on our national budget. 

It is very important that every ACDA member be aware that between January 1, 2007 and May 1, 2008, a very short period of time, our organization lost some thirty-five hundred members.  This alarming figure has come to light since last May, when Tim Sharp took over as Executive Director of ACDA and began the process of assessing where we are as an organization.  Beyond the bare facts, which are shocking enough, comes the reality that financial commitments have been made based on a membership of twenty-one thousand, when income from dues only totals approximately seventeen-thousand, five hundred members.  You can see that this has created a huge budget crisis for the national organization, and we are now operating in a deficit situation, some $300,000 in the red.

I am certain this takes you by surprise—it did me, as well as the rest of the board when I broke the news from Tim Sharp to them.  Tim and his staff have already taken steps to set our financial house in order, and things are undergoing a major restructuring at the national headquarters. 

In the Northwestern division we are extremely healthy and have been for many years, thanks to the efforts of past presidents and our long-time treasurer Carol Stewart-Smith.  They have been incredibly good stewards of our money, and we are well positioned for the future.  However, that does not change the fact that national ACDA has hit a bump in the road, and we desperately need the help of each individual member to get over it.

To that end, Tim Sharp has charged the divisions to increase ACDA membership by a total of three thousand new active and student members by June of 2009.  The Northwestern division is the largest of the seven divisions in land area, but the smallest in number, with 985 active members as of July 31st.  This accounts for just below 6% of the total national membership!  Under Tim’s goal allocation, the Northwestern division is being asked to increase membership by 142 new active and 34 new student members in the coming eight months—just under 5% of the total goal of 3,000.  By state this breaks down as follows:

  • Alaska:  5 new active members and 1 new student member.
  • Idaho: 14 new active and 3 new student members.
  • Montana: 16 new active and 4 new student members.
  • Oregon: 40 new active and 10 new student members.
  • Washington: 57 new active and 14 new student members.
  • Wyoming: 10 new active and 10 new student members.

Please note that these are NEW members, not people who exist on ACDA rolls but who have let their membership's lapse.  We must make every effort to get those people back as ACDA members, in addition to recruiting new members.

In addition, Tim wants to push the idea of a rather under-utilized category of ACDA membership--associate members.  These are people who are singing in your community or church choir—lovers of choral music who are not necessarily choral professionals.  Tim is asking that EACH state recruit 50 new associate members.  As the board and I discussed, this is a rather hard sell right now, because ACDA needs to put in place more resources to attract this sort of member.  Nevertheless, this is an important part of Tim’s goal.

As division president I have set forth the following deadlines for achieving our part of the national membership goal:

  • State presidents will contact all expired members by September 30th.
  • State presidents will develop individual plans for meeting membership goals in their state and send to the division president by September 30th.  Plans should be implemented by mid-October.
  • State presidents will report progress of their membership initiative to the division president each month.
  • The membership initiative will be published in all state newsletters and websites as well as the division website, and regular updates will be published.
  • A mid-campaign analysis of the division effort will be done in January and published on the division website.
  • The division Collegiate and Student/Youth Activities chairs will work closely with their state chairs to solicit names of graduating seniors/masters students from all the division colleges and universities who will be entering the choral profession for the first time.  These graduates will receive a free first-year membership in ACDA (at the cost of just $15 per person to the division).  Each will receive a membership package congratulating them on their accomplishment and welcoming them into the profession.
  • The division will be represented with a booth at the NW-MENC conference in Spokane this coming February.  We will also have a booth at the career fair to be held at the convention.
  • The division website will be undergoing changes in the next few months to provide better resources for each Repertoire and Standards area.

As you can see, the division board is taking definitive action to overcome this crisis—but WE NEED YOUR HELP!  I cannot emphasis enough how important it is for each individual member of ACDA to participate in this effort to rebuild our membership base.  We need everyone to be pro-active about this effort or it will fail.  Other prominent music organizations are struggling for members or have completely shut down—MENC no longer offers national conventions, and the International Association of Jazz Educators is no longer in business.  None of us want that to happen to ACDA.

So what can you do?  It seems so simple, but if every active member of the Northwestern division brought one new colleague into ACDA in the coming months, we would double our membership!  That would far exceed our membership goals.  Some of us might even bring in two or three new members—surely each of us knows at least one person working in the field of choral music that is not an ACDA member and should become one.  Perhaps you have the disposable income to “gift” the first year of membership to a young person you are a mentor to, or a long-time colleague you care about.  Tim Sharp would rather have this type of contribution than just a check to the organization, because this could literally be the “gift that keeps on giving.”  We need each of you to be an “evangelist” for ACDA!

The division board, your state officers and I invite each and every member of the Northwestern division to become a big part of this critical effort to bring three thousand new active and student members into ACDA by June of 2009.  We will be working with the national organization to build resources for attracting new associate members, and in the meantime, please approach singers and other individuals that you know to join—we need fifty new associate members from each state to reach our goal.  And if you know anyone that has belonged to ACDA in the past, but has let their membership lapse, please let him or her know how important they are to the organization, and how much we need them back in the fold. 

ACDA has so much to offer everyone involved in the choral art.  It should be the “home” of every choral professional, the founding organization for every thing we do.  Let’s work together to overcome this momentary bump in the road, and go forward into a healthy, thriving future!


Incoming president, Richard Nance, greets members, announces dates and location of 2010 NW Divisional Convention...Seattle, Washington, March 10-13

July 1, 2008
Richard Nance

Summer greetings!  I hope this column finds you in the midst of a wonderful time of rest and relaxation, and that you have plans for lots of rejuvenation before the busy times of fall are on us.  I also hope your plans include attendance at one of the many choral workshop offerings in our region, or perhaps you have bigger things in mind, such as a trip to Copenhagen for the IFCM World Symposium.  

Whatever you have planned, please keep ACDA in your thoughts as we transition to new leadership at all levels.  As we go forth we will miss the love and unfailing commitment that Gene Brooks had for the organization, yet we are so excited to see the new initiatives that Dr. Tim Sharp and our national executive committee have in store.  On the division level, Scott Peterson leaves the office of president with the division on solid ground, both financially and artistically.  His vision for “A New Destination” took us to new heights with the groundbreaking convention in Vancouver, BC.  The convention drew not only many of the finest choirs in our division, but indeed the world.  And the trepidation I think we all sometimes felt about trying to mount a division convention for the first time outside the United States was unfounded, our membership stepped up, and we had the highest attendance ever since we started organizing these events.  Scott deserves our deepest thanks, along with his hard working board and convention committee. 

As I take over the office of President, I first want to thank you for your support and the trust you have placed in me to carry on the excellence that has been embodied by our past Presidents.  It is a long and distinguished list, and I admit being awed by the great things they have done for our organization, and a little intimidated by a hard act to follow.  However I am surrounded by a very qualified, talented board, and I know they will see me through.  Special thanks go to those board members who are leaving their positions: 

Scott Anderson (College and University R & S Chair)
Helen Dietz (Jr. High/Middle School R & S Chair)
Janet Fox (Montana President, leaving office in October)
Mike Frasier (Vice President)
Jim Jirak (Vocal Jazz R & S Chair)
Wallace Long (Male Chorus R & S Chair)
Marcia Patton (Women’s Chorus R & S Chair)

We welcome these newcomers to their board positions: 

Frank DeMiero (Vocal Jazz R & S Chair)
Steven Hart (Montana President, taking office in October)
Solveig Holmquist (President-elect)
Scott Peterson (Vice President)
Heather Prinzing (Women’s Chorus R & S Chair)
Carrie Rice (Jr. High/Middle School R & S Chair)
Reginald Unterseher (Male Chorus R & S Chair)
Steven Zopfi (College and University R & S Chair)

Returning board members include: 

Linda Berg (Children’s Choir  R& S Chair)
Ben Brody (Music in Worship R & S Chair)
Karen Fulmer (High School R & S Chair)
Darrell James (Boychoir R & S Chair)
Howard Meharg (Newsletter Editor and Webmaster)
Seth McMullen (Idaho President)
Russ Otte (Oregon President)
Rebecca Rhodes (Alaska President)
Leora Schwitters (Washington President)
Carol Stewart-Smith (Treasurer)
Karen Thomas (Community Choir R & S Chair)
Gary Weidenaar (Student Activities Chair)
Stacy Winn (Multicultural R & S Chair) 

I am pleased that these folks will continue their outstanding work on behalf of ACDA. 

Now for the big news—our 2010 NWACDA Convention will be held in Seattle!  The dates have been finalized as March 10-13, with the primary performance venue being Town Hall, and the Honor Choir Concert at First Presbyterian Church.  There may be a possibility of moving that concert to Benaroya Hall, but it will be a while before the Seattle Symphony sets its schedule, so we don’t know if the hall will be available at this point.  The convention will headquarter at the beautiful Seattle Sheraton Hotel, and like Vancouver, everything will be within short walking distance of in the hotel itself.  The board will be meeting in Seattle in August to conduct division business and view the venues, and then we will begin the work of planning another outstanding division convention. 

Again, best wishes to you for a wonderful summer! 


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