Northwestern Division - ACDA News/Articles
Archives for articles previously linked from the front page of the NW ACDA web site

QuickLinks (alphabetical by title)

A proposal that invites new members into ACDA (from Pres.-Elect, Dr. Richard Nance) Dr. Scott Anderson, R&S Chair for College/University Choirs
Good to Great - by Eric Kauffman, (reprinted by permission from Ohio Choral Directors Association, Rowland Blackley, Editor)
John Cobb, former director of choral music at Eastern Oregon University, dies on July 4
"Keep 'em Singing!" by Janet Kidd, inspires this list of tips and reminders, by Kim Ward
Steve Siemens, Des Moines, Iowa, inspires top ten quotes and food for thought as new choral year begins, by Mary Beth Riewerts
Technology and Music Literacy in Church Worship, by Chris Fenner
Thank you for being a friend,
by Pualeilani Monds, ACDA President, Alaska

What I Learned from Jack, by Jan Smith


"Keep 'em Singing!" by Janet Kidd, inspires this list of tips and reminders
by Kim Ward, South Central Representative of the Iowa ACDA (reprinted by permission from "Sounding Board" the Iowa ACDA newsletter, Ryan Beeken, Editor

To help me nurture those parts of my personal and professional life I try to do a lot of reading in the summer.  “KEEP ‘EM SINGING!”  By Janet Kidd shared 12 sins that are good to avoid as we go through the school year.  These tips are helpful for new teachers and a reminder for those who can’t remember what alumni graduated with what class!

#1.  Correcting Individuals- Never berate an individual in front of the choir. Calmly discuss the issue privately after the rehearsal. If you must address it immediately- say “There seems to be three or four of you making this mistake” and correct the situation this way.  The students will think you have GREAT ears and you will handle the situation with tact.

#2.  Grievance Floodgates-
Don’t open the gates during class. This could undermine your authority. If students have a concern, ask them to visit with you outside of the rehearsal. They could also bring their concerns to your choir officers or section leaders for them to share with you.

#3.  Your Emotional Reactions-
if a situation becomes stressful- step back, take some deep breaths and calmly think about the event.  Was the choir not rehearsing or performing to your expectations because your instructions or   gestures were not clear?  Did the 3rd period rehearsal start badly because you couldn’t let go of Tommy’s tantrum during 2nd period?

#4.  Your Personal Baggage-
Check your life situation at the door before the rehearsal. Make a point to take care of the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts of your day.  Even if it is a 15 minute cat nap after school or a walk around the block to enjoy the fall colors.

#5.  Winging Rehearsals-
Don’t “wing” rehearsals simply because musically you are more experienced than your choir members.  You will be astounded by how much ground you can cover when you prepare ahead.

#6.  This is Show Business-
You are in Show Business every day.  Every minute of every rehearsal show them how it’s done! They have given you their time and attention.  Make it worth their while. To make sure you are giving them your best, video tape your rehearsals and see what they see. Have someone observe your rehearsal for feedback.

#7.  Instructionally Overloaded Singers-
Don’t overload singers with ten points to work on when you stop.  Avoid talking too much when you stop.  Researchers say that students can only mentally process two tasks at a time.  Be specific.

#8.  Mockery-
Do not mock your choir. The majority of the time the poor singing or rehearsing is not done deliberately. Usually mockery is a knee jerk emotional reaction arising from frustration.
#9.  Showing Favoritism- Don’t do it.  Make personal contact with each choir member and it will pay enormous dividends. They know you are interested in them and they will work hard with you.  If you show interest in Tommy (see point #3) during positive times or ask him about last night’s basketball game  he will probably provide less negative “entertainment” during upcoming rehearsals.

#10.  Too Late to Fix It-
Know when it is too late to fix a problem before a performance. A choir that is confused and not confident is a scary thing to put in front of an audience.

#11.  Trashing-
Never denigrate your choir or its members either to their faces or behind their backs.  Negative teaching never results in a positive outcome.  How can you convince yourself that you are a wise, kind, great leader when your personal integrity is so far out?

#12.  Fruitless Grousing-
Don’t complain to someone who has no power to change the situation. If you created the mess you have the power to fix it.  Ask a friend or colleague whose communication and interpersonal skills you admire to coach you through this.

Readers my reach Kim through: sounding-board@iowachoral.org


Steve Siemens, Des Moines, Iowa, inspires top ten quotes and food for thought as new choral year begins

by Mary Beth Riewerts, Iowa Southeast District Representive. Taken from "Sounding Board," the Iowa ACDA newsletter, September, 2006 issue, Ryan Beeken, Editor

This is a great time of year to look to inspiration to help us celebrate the fact that we have started another year of school successfully.  This past convention in Mason City was full of great quotes and I wanted to share my favorite top ten with you from Steve Siemens of “Siemens People Builders” of Des Moines.  He was the opening speaker of the ICDA Summer Convention.  I hope at least one of these provides food for thought and helps you through the busy fall schedules that we all seem to have.

10.  If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.
9.  Focus on what you can control.
8.  Don’t settle.
7.  Rise up above obstacles.
6.  Being negative and critical is not reality; negative thinking limits our potential.
5.  Mediocrity does not motivate anyone.
4.  A commitment to being positive adds value to others around us.
3.  When you’re through changing, you’re through.
2.  Check your attitude daily.
1.  Don’t die until you’re dead!

He also encouraged each of us to establish a “negative-free zone” in our classrooms, the teachers’ lounge, and other areas that need it around our workplaces.  This zone should be a place free of criticism, sarcasm and negativism…just think how great this would be if our students (and we) had a place like this in every school!

Have an excellent year everyone!  

Readers my reach Mary Beth through: sounding-board@iowachoral.org


Thank you for being a friend
by Pualeilani Monds, ACDA President, Alaska

I was not looking forward to this year as ACDA/Alaska President.  All I could see was declining membership, no funding, lack of resources, missing or overlooked paperwork - you name it!

Our little group up here has been struggling along for several years now, and there have been many, many large bumps in the road. Alaska is a BIG state, and communicating/organizing things when people are thousands of miles away is difficult.

We have quite a few choral positions filled by great teachers who were actually instrumental music major, and band is where their hearts truly are. We have fewer and fewer music education graduates to pull from, and politics being what they are, not many interested in traveling and living so far away for the compensation they are offered.  

So, it was with some trepidation that I attended the NW Board meeting in Portland this past August. In years past, I sat there and listened to all the wonderful things happening in the other states, and wondered what on earth I could do to bring us to that level. And this year, I had to give my report, such as it was, not only to the board, but to Dr. Gene Brooks, Executive Secretary of ACDA, as well. Hey, NO pressure!

Well, my fears were unfounded!

I had a chance to sit and talk at length with both President Scott Peterson and Carol Stewart-Smith, our NW treasurer. Tthey both were very receptive to my concerns and questions.

At Scott's behest, the NW Board authorized the formation of a task force/advisory board to help us get things back on track, offer ideas on how to build our program back up, and generally hold my hand through this last year. The task force members are Karen Fulmer, Twyla Brunson, Paul Schultz and Carol Stewart-Smith. In addition, we were offered much needed financial and administrative help, not only from the NW Board, but from the National office and Dr. Brooks. I left the meeting TOTALLY fired up and ready to get out there and make it all work.

I'm happy to report that their faith and investment in Alaskan choral teachers is already starting to pay off. At the AMEA board meeting this weekend (September 23), I shared the fact that national and NW ACDA have offered to help sponsor our state convention next year, and also want to supply the headliner and seminar/workshop leaders. Everyone was very excited by this news, and I will be meeting with our AMEA state president in the next few weeks to start the planning process.

The next step is to find a few veteran teachers willing to serve on a local steering committee - not a huge commitment, like being an officer or R&S chair, but just people in touch with the music community in Alaska who want to see the choral situation in Alaska grow and improve.

I have also spoken to Howard Meharg, NW ACDA webmaster, about the possibility of starting our own website and information center on the net.

Other projects include increasing awareness of what ACDA has to offer, making sure potential choral majors from Alaska know what ACDA can offer them as college students, and having more choral-centric seminars and workshops available for teachers outside their major field of study and to those who may not have access to the events happening in Anchorage or Fairbanks.

I have a new attitude - this is going to be a GREAT year, and it is all thanks to some people who believe in choral education in Alaska...thanks, guys, for being a friend - to me AND ACDA-Alaska!


John Cobb, former director of choral music at Eastern Oregon University, dies on July 4

cobbJohn L. Cobb, 71, died July 4, 2006 in Portland from complications due to pnenumonia. John was a long time member of ACDA and conducted choirs at Eastern Oregon University for thirty years. A celebration of his life was held on August 19 at the First United Methodist Church in Portland.

Dr. Cobb was born September 25, 1934 in Rochester N. Y. He earned a bachelor's degree in music education at Illinois Wesleyan University, a master's at Indiana University and a doctorate at the University of Oregon. He taught music in Illinois before moving to La Grande in 1960 to teach and conduct at Eastern Oregon College.

For the next 30 years, he taught voice, developed and conducted choral programs at the college and in the community, adjudicated regional and state music events and performed as a tenor soloist.

He sang in the Oregon Bach Festival Chorus, was a founding member of the Male Ensemble Northwest and conducted and sang in several church choirs.

He retired in 1991 and moved to the Portland area. He enjoyed playing golf, reading and traveling.

Survivors include his wife, Betty, children, Laura C. Stewart, Katherine Carter and John P. Cobb, and five grandchildren.

Contributions can be made to a fund for the restoration of the music room at Hot Lake Springs Resort in his honor. Checks may be sent to John Cobb Music Room Memorial
Fund, P. O. Box 220285, Milwaukie, Oregon 97269.

Five presidents of NW ACDA paused for a photo at the occasion of the August 19 memorial service for John Cobb, who died July 4th, 2006. John was the director of choral activities at Eastern Oregon University in LaGrande, for many years. He was a beloved friend, a great tenor, and teller of funny stories. He contributed immensely to choral music and we miss him. Past presidents are Dick Clark (1980-82), Bruce Browne (1982-84), Larry Marsh (1986-88), Mike Frasier (2004-06), and current president, Scott Peterson.

What I Learned from Jack

by Jan Smith, R&S Chair for Junior High Choirs, Oklahoma ACDA
reprinted by permission from John Gerber, Editor,"Sooner Style" (newsletter)

You know his name. You’ve met him … or her. He’s the one who looks at you as though he has been given a mandate to “Go forth and annoy.”  In our choir, his name was Jack (the name has been changed to protect the guilty). His freshman and sophomore years were relatively uneventful. You could tell that a storm was brewing under the surface, but it just didn’t have quite enough boldness to erupt. He hit his stride during his junior year, and last year, as a senior, he was in rare form. He was like a cold that would not go away. Sometimes you thought you had it under control, and then it would return with a vengeance. He was bright and had been diagnosed with ADD. He refused to take his medicine, though, because he didn’t like the way it made him feel. Since he was rarely, if ever, absent, he was the gift that kept on giving…day after day after day.

The knee-jerk reaction to Jack’s indiscretions was to mete out judgment swiftly and directly. That may have worked when he was very young, but as he matured (chronologically only), the knee-jerk reaction elicited an immediate confrontation that disrupted the entire class. This happened primarily in core classes. Jack loved it. He wanted the control. Becky, my teaching partner, was masterful in dealing with Jack. Her first exposure to him was during his junior year. With a new teacher on board, Jack set about “marking his territory” in every way possible short of the canine manner. Sometimes she would find a way to quietly remove him from the rehearsal and go right on as though nothing had happened. The rest of the class had her undivided attention. Sometimes she would “lovingly” let Jack know that she was clearly aware of what he was doing to disturb and pull focus from the rehearsal. However, she never gave him the luxury of watching her explode in frustration. The two actually developed a working relationship. No, he did not have an epiphany and morph into a model student. Not even close. During his senior year, though, there were times when he made positive contributions to a rehearsal or performance. However, I was still annoyed with him beyond belief.

It wasn’t until I made the personal decision to change my feelings toward Jack that things changed. Becky respected his talent and what he could bring to the rehearsal. I hadn’t ever paid attention to his voice because I was so busy being annoyed with him. When I finally really listened to him, I heard some ability. We have a short, twenty-five minute period after second hour called Tutorial. During that time, on occasion, I started visiting with Jack. At first, the visits were short. After all, he was Jack; he had people to see, places to go and havoc to wreak. But, all in all, I enjoyed those visits. During Jack’s senior year, I had a lot more opportunities to visit with him and for much longer periods of time. We developed a dialogue and hopefully some semblance of mutual respect.  I didn’t ever really get to the point where I trusted him, but I can say without hesitation that I began to see Jack’s good qualities. I began to like him and even enjoy him…on occasion.

This is the bottom line: I finally realized that Jack wasn’t robbing me of my joy. I was doing it to myself.  His actions or lack of action certainly was frustrating and irritating. But, ultimately, it was my choice as to whether I was going to be proactive or reactive. Letting one sour student rob me of the joy of making music was cheating me and the rest of the class. It had to be disappointing to the other students for them to have their positive efforts go unrecognized and unrewarded. Some days they were seeing a perturbed, frustrated and frowning teacher who was ignoring them and giving up her joy because of one student.  I have since made a concerted effort to recognize the joyful students and enjoy their contributions.  I have tried to get to know the difficult students. Once or twice, I even laughed at Jack. He smiled and started working.

I wish it were easier to deal with the Jacks of the world. I wish they would take their medication. But, I have resolved to believe there is someone under the surface of all that behavior who may have ability and even be able to contribute positively. I have resolved to recognize the efforts of students who deserve to be praised and rewarded with an attentive and appreciative teacher.  Blessings to those of you who mastered this skill early on, and best wishes to those of you, like me, who are still in the process.