Interest sessions - 2018 conference in Portland

(schedule subject to change)

Liberating Singers with Choral Improvisation
Sarah Riskind, presenter
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 • 5:00pm
Hilton Broadway I-II

Musical improvisation can heighten the joy of music-making, increase self-confidence, develop creativity, improve aural skills, reduce performance anxiety, relieve stress, and strengthen community in all ages and abilities. In choral music, improvisation is traditionally linked to specific arenas: scat-singing, Gospel solos, harmonizing folk songs, and aleatoric sections of notated repertoire. However, crossing these boundaries with freer improvisation can liberate singers from the fear of singing wrong notes. Introductory activities in this participatory session will be playful warm-ups and games ideal for school choirs, followed by other improvisations that many types of choirs can do in both rehearsal and performance settings. Inspired by Pauline Oliveros and her philosophy of Deep Listening, singers will become aware of interactions within the group, dense and sparse textures, developing motives, changing tone color, and shaping structure in music with minimal restrictions. In an entirely idiomatic way, innovations in choral music can be linked more closely with current developments in contemporary instrumental improvisation.

SARAH RISKIND is a doctoral choral conducting student at the University of Washington, where she researches choral improvisation, Judeo-Spanish music, and Renaissance polyphony. A composer of sacred Jewish and secular choral music, she recently premiered her Oz Cantata for chorus, soloists, and string quartet with the UW Recital Choir (recordings at Ms. Riskind is the Music Director at Magnolia United Church of Christ and has been a musical scholarly writing instructor, Jewish Studies Fellow, and Choral and Music History Teaching Assistant at UW. Previously, she conducted church, community, and children’s choirs and taught music at the German International School of Boston. Informed by her work on faculty at The Walden School, an inspiring summer program for creative musicians, she advocates for developing choral singers’ musicianship and improvisational skills. She received her M.M. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and her B.A. from Williams College. 


The Race Against Time: Productive Strategies that Maximize Limited Time in the Choral Rehearsal
Ryan Hebert, presenter
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 • 5:00pm
Hilton Broadway III-IV

Research into the area of how to structure a choral rehearsal, how to manage rehearsal time, and how to plan a rehearsal is abundant; however, what seems to be missing in the literature is how choral directors could be more efficient in the they deliver their own instructions within the context of each rehearsal. To what extend is our own techniques causing time to flee? This workshop is intended to go beyond the normal, more cursory nature of rehearsal organization, time management, and pacing. It is designed to help the choral director drill down specifically into four areas of their own rehearsal methodology that may reveal possible areas of inefficiency. Since time is one of our most precious resources, the main purpose of this presentation is to help conductors explore possible elusive areas of teaching to self evaluate where productivity is not always maximized simply because there may be an unintended lack of awareness.

RYAN HEBERT is associate professor of music, director of choral studies, and university organist at The University of Tampa, in Tampa Florida. Choirs under his direction have performed throughout the southeast and abroad, and he is an active choral clinician, adjudicator and guest conductor. As an organ recitalist, he has performed throughout the U.S. and Europe and has a published an organ piece by Hinshaw Music. He has also published articles in Choral Journal and has given presentations at two Southern Division ACDA conferences, LMEA, FMEA and throughout the southeast.


(Re)imagining the Changing Voice: Adolescence to Senescence
Geoffrey Boers, Jeffrey Larkin, and Jeremy Morada, presenters
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 • 5:00pm
Hilton Pavilion East Ballroom

As our culture ages, more and more singers are remaining active longer in life. Church choirs and community choruses are filled with aging singers, all of whom face challenges with their senescent, or aging, changing voices. As we are seeing an explosion of choirs for older adults, this session will explore a new and developing area of research and importance for ACDA. Attendees will explore and play with teaching techniques and activities which address methods through which aging adults can experience musical growth and satisfaction throughout their lives. Andragogy (pedagogy for adults), sight-singing and musicianship, perception, physical health, memory, and self esteem will be addressed. 

GEOFFREY BOERS is Director of Choral Activities at the University of Washington in Seattle, a program widely recognized as forward thinking, vibrant, and forward thinking. Under his direction, the graduate choral program has developed a singular mission: to nurture the whole student as conductor-teacher-servant-leader-scholar. Through his teaching he is exploring the evolution of conducting gesture and rehearsal pedagogy and their connection with the emerging neuroscience of mirror neurons, empathy, perception, learning, and personal transformation. His exploration has led to new thoughts about conducting and teaching with regard to breath, movement, artistry, personal awareness, and cultural development. His work has led to the development of mentorship for local cohorts of teachers across the United States and Canada. Most recently he has developed a level-based Choral Literacy Rubric, a system for development of musicianship, assessment, adjudication, and repertoire grading. It is now being BETA tested in five states and provinces.


Working with Seventh Grade Boys: A “Hands On” Session
Dan Davison, presenter
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 • 5:00pm
Hilton Pavilion West Ballroom

Part I: Participants will learn about six common problems that occur when teaching a middle level boy to match pitch. Volunteers will come to the front to try out various techniques with a “mock” group of 7th-grade boys (played by male participants).

Part II: Participants will learn how to use their own voices to demonstrate various tonal issues, like the lifted soft palate, forward placement, singing “on the breath”, and singing with a spacious resonating chamber. Participants will sing new vocal exercises that pinpoint certain middle-level vocal problems, like singing with intensity, singing with agility, and singing certain English vowels.

DAN DAVISON is an educator, composer, adjudicator, clinician, and singer from the Pacific Northwest. He has been the choir director at Ballou Junior High School in Puyallup, Washington since 1979. Dan's compositions vary widely, from those suitable for junior high voices, to those written for professional ensembles, and are primarily available from Walton Music and BriLee Music. Dan regularly speaks on choral music topics. In particular, his workshops on The Male Changing Voice have been presented in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Texas, Alaska, and also in Chicago at the 2011 National ACDA Convention.


(Re)imagining Your Rehearsals: The Art of Creative Rehearsal Repetition
David Edmonds, presenter
Thursday, March 8, 2018 • 8:00am
Hilton Broadway I-IV

Drawing direct parallels with over a dozen psychological experiments on learning and memory, this session reexamines the way we plan and implement our rehearsal both on the large and small scale, to achieve the highest levels of learning and mastery possible among our singers. Focusing on lab-tested and verified techniques including spaced retrieval (the ""testing effect ), interleaved practice, reflection, elaboration, and more, we will explore the most promising findings in the fields of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to dispel some learning myths and arrive at a clearer understanding of how to straighten out our singers' forgetting curves when building technique and learning repertoire.

DAVID EDMONDS serves as Director of Choral Activities at the University of Montana. In just four years under his direction, the UM Chamber Chorale has been invited to perform for the 2015 NAfME NW and 2016 NW ACDA Conferences—both first-time invitations for the choir. Before coming to the University of Montana, Dr. Edmonds obtained advanced degrees in conducting from the University of North Texas and Westminster Choir College, and taught high school choral music for six years in Iowa and Texas. His original choral works and arrangements have been commissioned and recorded by schools and arts organizations in the United States and Canada and are available through Alliance Music Publications, Inc., Colla Voce Music, and Morningstar Music Publishers.

(Re)imagining Relevance through New Music and Social Consciousness
Jeremiah Selvey, Wendy Moy, Justin Raffa, and Reginald Unterseher, presenters
Thursday, March 8, 2018 • 8:00am
Hilton Pavilion West Ballrooom

The purpose of this panel discussion is to provide thoughtfulness on the importance of new music and social advocacy as we re-conceive the impact of the choral art in our various communities. The panelists will speak from the depth and breadth of their own experiences, as well as broader trends in the field, to provide practical ways to revitalize our choral communities by way of supporting the diversity of our humanity. This panel discussion will explore how we can integrate social consciousness and new music into our choral settings as a means of making the choral art more immediately relevant to our singers, communities, and audiences.

A former Washington resident, JEREMIAH SELVEY is published by the Choral Scholar and the Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education and directs the choral program and teaches voice at Santa Monica College in California. Jeremiah also co-directs Chorosynthesis Singers, a 12-voice project-based professional choir in Seattle that focuses on new and socially conscious music, with Washington native WENDY MOY, Director of Choral Activities and Music Education at Connecticut College and soprano with CONCORA in Connecticut. She also writes for the education blog of the National Association for Music Education. REG UNTERSEHER is an active composer and voice teacher in Washington and a co-founder of Northwest Choral Publishers. Reg’s works are also published by Oxford University Press and Walton Music, and he was named Washington State Music Teacher’s “Composer of the Year” in 2013. JUSTIN RAFFA directs the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers & Yakima Symphony Chorus in Eastern Washington and is a community leader in arts advocacy as a member of the Washington State Arts Commission. | | | |


Body Mapping in the Choral Rehearsal
Ethan Sperry and Zane Morris, presenters
Thursday, March 8, 2018 • 9:15am
Hilton Pavilion East Ballroom

Good posture is crucial to good singing and good conducting. While posture has generally been taught by demonstration (which appeals to visual learners) recent work in Body Mapping by Barbara Conable give alternate methods for all of us to have better access to a comprehensive understanding of our bodies and kinesthetic awareness of ourselves in space. Body Mapping is now a regular offering at the Portland State School of Music, and it has proved to be a huge asset for all of our voice and conducting majors. Professor Ethan Sperry has worked closely with his student Zane Morris to develop a series of lesson plans to introduce basic body awareness to a choir in 6 short 5-minute lessons, and a further set of lesson plans for those who wish to go farther. Attendees will get to participate in the full set of lessons and take the plans with them if they so desire.

Hailed by The Oregonian for providing “the finest choral concerts in Portland in recent memory,” ETHAN SPERRY is the Barre Stoll Professor of Choral Music and Director of Choral Activities at Portland State University, and Artistic Director and Conductor of Oregon Repertory Singers. Sperry began studying conducting at the age of eight, cello at the age of twelve, and singing at the age of eighteen. He earned a bachelor's degree in Philosophy from Harvard College and Masters and Doctoral degrees in Choral Conducting from the University of Southern California. Ensembles under his direction have toured twenty foreign countries and performed at major venues in the United States including The Hollywood Bowl, The Kennedy Center, The Washington National Cathedral, and the United Nations. A prolific arranger and composer, Dr. Sperry is the editor of the Global Rhythms series for earthsongs music, and his pop music arrangements are published by Hal Leonard.

ZANE MORRIS is a Music Educator from Portland, OR. Growing up, Zane was an instrumentalist, then at a summer music institute he found he enjoyed singing and fell in love with vocal music. Since then, Zane has performed and conducted choirs across America and Internationally. Highlights include leading solo vocal and choir clinics in Alaska, Oregon, Washington and California, performing in the Anaheim Convention Center Arena with the Salvation Army Western Territorial Youth Chorus and winning the Grand Prix of the 6th Bali International Choir Festival in Bali, Indonesia with the Portland State University Chamber Choir. Zane’s educational focuses are injury prevention and mental/physical health for musicians and spends time developing curriculum for fellow educators to also create injury free environments. Zane is an Affiliate of Andover Educators, and will be receiving a Bachelors of Music in Music Education from Portland State University in June, 2018.


“Sing Me a Sorrow...Sing Me a Spiritual”
Timothy Westerhaus, presenter
Thursday, March 8, 2018 • 9:15am
Hilton Pavilion West Ballroom

Violence and systemic racism led to the Black Lives Matter movement as a response to issues of racial profiling and inequality in the United States. How can we respond as choral artists to these issues? This session invites conductors to respond by sharing the rich heritage of African American spirituals. Moving beyond the rousing concert closer, scores and resources will highlight standard, lesser-known, and accessible arrangements for mixed and treble choirs by female and male composers. Participants will explore an interdisciplinary and inquiry-based model of learning and performance that engages singers and audiences in ways that connect choral artistry with today’s relevant conversations surrounding race.

TIMOTHY WESTERHAUS is the director of choirs and vocal studies at Gonzaga University, where he conducts four choral ensembles and chairs the music department. He serves as music director of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane, Washington, and is artistic director of St. John’s Music Concert Series. He has conducted collegiate and professional ensembles in the United States, Europe, Colombia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and he recently was a conducting fellow in South Korea through the International Conductor Exchange Program. He serves as Northwest ACDA chair for University Repertoire and Resources. As a tenor, he sings in the Oregon Bach Festival Berwick Chorus and has sung under Helmuth Rilling and Matthew Halls. He remains active as a pianist and regularly leads Baroque performances from the harpsichord. Dr. Westerhaus received his bachelor’s in sacred music from the University of Saint Thomas and graduate degrees in choral conducting from Boston University.


Dare to be Powerful
Joan Szymko and Susan Cogdill, presenters
Thursday, March 8, 2018 • 1:00pm
Hilton Broadway I-IV

Girls and women deserve all the opportunities and respect afforded to boys and men, and yet the face of gender bias and misogyny persists in all areas of life: in the workplace, at school, in arts, culture, politics, and most virulently, in social media. This session pushes back, exploring how the women’s choir rehearsal room, so often a nurturing oasis, can also be a hotbed of resistance, a leadership lab and a wellspring of courage for women of all ages.

The session will cover: (1) a brief overview of the presenter's experience directing socially progressive women's ensembles; (2) programming of gutsy settings of women poets, social justice advocates and brazen feminists; (3), employing rehearsal activities (singing and non-singing) that invite initiative and risk taking; and (4), a list of suggested repertoire, including Joan Szymko's “Dare to Be Powerful - Bold Repertoire for Women's Voices" Choral Series.

JOAN SZYMKO has been stirring up the pool of repertoire for women’s voices for over thirty years as both a composer and conductor. Since 2003, her music has been performed at every National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association and she is widely regarded as a foremost composer of choral music today. The ACDA recognized Szymko's lasting impact on the choral arts in America by selecting her as the recipient of the prestigious Raymond W. Brock Memorial Commission in 2010. Szymko currently directs Aurora Chorus, has served on the choral music faculty at Portland State University, and as a visiting artist, has workshopped her music with choirs in a variety of educational settings across the US and in the Netherlands.


SUSAN H. COGDILL serves as Assistant Professor of Music Education and Director of the Women's Choir at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University. A frequent clinician and guest conductor, Dr. Cogdill is an active member of the National Association for Music Educators, American Choral Directors Association, and Pi Kappa Lambda music honor society. Her music research has focused on motivational theories related to musical development and beliefs regarding singing ability. Her most recent projects have been exploring improvisational singing techniques that may help uncertain or timid singers gain vocal confidence, as well as experiencing community in improvisational group singing.


Singing and Dancing to Get Along
Susan Luinstra, presenter
Thursday, March 8, 2018 • 1:00am
Hilton Pavilion East Ballroom

In the small town of Bynum, Montana, students start each morning with a song and dance in what has become a tradition that helps build a sense of who they are when they go out into the bigger world. 


Help! My Guys Sound Terrible: Quick Solutions to Common Problems
Jaclyn Johnson, presenter
Thursday, March 8, 2018 • 1:00am
Hilton Pavilion West Ballroom

This research was inspired by the clinician’s own personal struggles, as a beginning choir director, with teaching novice male singers. It took years to understand how to overcome difficulties like octave displacement, matching pitch, accessing the male head voice, singing through the passaggio, and developing beautiful, resonant tenor and bass timbres. As part of her master s thesis, Johnson began delving into vocal pedagogy research to discover strategies to overcome these difficulties. 

As a part of her master’s thesis, Johnson created a survey to see if other director s (in particular, female high school directors) had experienced similar struggles. One hundred and forty-three women responded to the survey, and the data showed an overwhelming majority struggled with teaching high school male singers. One statistic showed that 77.5% of women surveyed, with 1-15 years of teaching experience struggled the first year, and over 85% found it necessary to develop specific strategies for teaching the male voice.

During this interest session, Johnson will briefly discuss the survey findings, then will give a variety of research-based pedagogical strategies to common problems dealing with the novice, male voice, regarding the aforementioned issues. While the clinician’s research targeted high school age singers, the strategies she will discuss can be applied to the changing and aged male voice, as they deal with common vocal issues, and can benefit every choral educator from the brand-new teacher to seasoned professional. Johnson is currently working on publishing these findings in a quick-reference handbook that can be purchased, and hopes it will be ready for the divisional conferences.

Often described as an “energetic little firecracker,” JACLYN M. JOHNSON has made it a life goal to share her passion for music with ensembles around the world. Her current areas of research include Latin American music and vocal pedagogy. Johnson is the Associate Director of Choral Activities at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, conductor of the Oak Ridge Chorus, and R&S Chair for Multicultural and Ethnic Music for Tennessee ACDA. Before completing her doctoral degree at the University of Michigan, she had a thriving career as a high school choral educator and church musician. Ensembles under her direction received numerous honors, including performances at the American Choral Directors Association National Conference (2011), Western Division Conference (2010), and Central Division Conference (2014). In 2014, Dr. Johnson represented the United States as an International Exchange Conductor to China, and recently traveled to Cuba to further her research in Latin American music.


Session Presented by the International Conductor Exchange Program
Michael Porter, facilitator
Friday, March 9, 2018 • 8:00am
Hilton Broadway I-II


Reinvigorating the Chestnuts
Meg Stohlmann, presenter
Friday, March 9, 2018 • 8:00am
Hilton Broadway III-IV

The process of discovering new artistry and musicianship through ""tried and true"" repertoire should be a part of our standard choral curriculum. These ""Chestnut"" songs become part of the canon because of the music's ability to stand the test of time. Instead of just performing these pieces through emulation of past performances, the reexamination and rediscovery of the music between both ensemble and conductor can prove to be a most rewarding endeavor. Through the use of the University of Washington Chamber Singers and the cooperation of Dr. Geoffrey Boers, we will demonstrate that there is always something new to discover or reimagine about repertoire, that we are never done making music, that the performance is never complete. Attention to text stress and poetry, voice and breath flow management, and emotional expression to the music will be demonstrated to enhance the artistry of the ensemble. Focus of the material will be on high school and collegiate choral literature with application to community based ensembles as well.

MEG STOHLMANN is a DMA candidate in choral conducting at the University of Washington where she has conducted the University Singers and Men's Glee Club. She is also the director of music at Rainier Beach Presbyterian Church and a Teaching Artist with Seattle Opera. Meg taught choir and guitar at the middle and high school level in Lexington, KY and conducted the Danville Children’s Choir. She earned her Masters degree in Voice Performance and Choral Conducting from the University of Kentucky in 2009. A graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Meg also served on active duty in the Air Force for 5 years in Arizona, Korea and Germany. Meg’s lifelong love of choral music began as a charter member of the Santa Rosa Children’s Chorus where she sang for over 10 years and credits with her decision to make music education her career.


Preach What You Practice: Vocal Jazz Techniques with Last Call
Last Call, presenters
Friday, March 9, 2018 • 9:15am
Hilton Atrium Ballroom

Come join the members of Last Call as they discuss and demonstrate the different techniques they've learned from performing in this ensemble and how they've implemented these techniques in their own vocal jazz ensembles. This session will be part Q & A and part demonstration.

KELLY KUNZ grew up in Redmond, Washington. From the time he was about three years old, he would often sit around singing songs while his father accompanied him on the piano. With his younger siblings, Kevin and Colleen, they would do the dishes all the while singing songs in three-part harmony. Kelly has a B.A. and a M.A. in Music education, getting both degrees from Central Washington University. Currently, Kelly is on staff at Bellevue College where he coordinates the Recording Arts program. Over the years, Kelly has developed a reputation as one of the finest vocal jazz directors in the country, directing award winning jazz choirs, doing workshops, clinics and adjudicating on a regular basis. Aside from being musical director and one of the founding members of Groove for Thought, Kelly works as a mixing engineer and producer on various projects through his own production studio.


Dialogue and Participation in the Choral Performance of Sacred Harp Music
Leann Conley-Holcom, presenter
Friday, March 9, 2018 • 9:15am
Hilton Broadway I-II

Mounting interest in folk and world music has led to increased choral performance of Sacred Harp, or shape note, repertoire. Sacred Harp is a communal musical practice that originated in the singing schools of colonial New England and is still active today, with hundreds of singing chapters across the United States and several burgeoning international chapters. Participants do not rehearse or perform, and there is no conductor. Community and collective music-making are the sole purposes of Sacred Harp singing. Lack of awareness in the choral community regarding Sacred Harp and its widespread accessibility for participatory learning has perpetuated a distanced choral approach to this music. This session presents a new perspective for the choral performance of Sacred Harp that moves beyond entertainment, places participatory learning at the foreground, and advocates for greater dialogue between the choral and Sacred Harp communities. Attendees will experience elements of a ritual "singing."

LEANN CONLEY-HOLCOM is a highly-regarded conductor and singer based in the Seattle-Tacoma area and director of the Tacoma Youth Chorus Concert Choir. She completed doctoral studies at the University of Washington in 2017 with the dissertation, “‘Come, All My Dear Brethren, and Help Me to Sing’: Dialogue and Participation as Foundations for the Choral Performance of Sacred Harp Music.” Prior to her doctoral work, Dr. Conley-Holcom was Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Chabot College and Associate Music Director of the GRAMMY-award-winning Pacific Boychoir Academy. An active professional singer, her ensemble credits include the Oregon Bach Festival, True Concord, and International Bachakademie. Recent solo appearances include Maryland’s Mountainside Baroque, Tacoma Symphony, Flagstaff Symphony and a Carnegie Hall solo debut with the New York City Chamber Orchestra. Dr. Conley-Holcom was recently guest conductor with the Shaoxing Philharmonic Children’s Chorus in China and with the Seattle Men’s and Women’s Choruses.


Teaching with Respect: Inclusive Pedagogy for Choral Directors
Stephen Sieck, presenter
Friday, March 9, 2018 • 9:15am
Hilton Broadway III-IV

This session prompts us to ask deeper questions about the language we use, about systems of power, and about our heritage and inheritance. When we examine our teaching, we may find that, while we do not intentionally act with bigotry, we may be complicit in adopting systems and language that marginalize and discriminate. In this session, we look closely at our teaching strategies. How does our repertoire and instruction intersect with our singers identities, specifically their learning abilities, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, and race? This session suggests an ethical approach to teaching choral music that is centered on respecting the singers in front of us. Participants will discover ways to maintain and elevate their artistic standards of excellence while also expanding their mindset. 

STEPHEN SIECK serves as Associate Professor of Music, Co-Director of Choral Studies, and Chair of the Voice Department at Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, WI, where he directs the Concert Choir and Viking Chorale and teaches Conducting and Choral Methods. His research in inclusivity has led to presentations throughout the country and a recent book, published by Hal Leonard, Teaching with Respect: Inclusive Pedagogy for Choral Directors. Steve has an upcoming book on best practices of top-performing choral programs, and has presented often on vocal pedagogy for tenors and diction pedagogical strategies. He received his B.A. in music from the University of Chicago and his M.M. and D.M.A. in Choral Conducting from the University of Illinois. Steve also serves as Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church of Neenah and President of the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association.


Elements of Folklore in Balkan Choral Music: Analysis and Performance Practice
Natasa Kaurin-Karaca, presenter
Friday, March 9, 2018 • 1:00pm
Hilton Broadway I-IV

Secular music from Eastern Europe has been steadily growing in popularity among high school and college level choral groups. Its intrinsic characteristics like asymmetrical meter, modal melodies, rich textures, and specific vocal production give the music from Balkan Peninsula a unique quality and character that breathes spirit and vigor. Various music and rhythmic elements idiosyncratic to rural and urban areas were transferred through oral tradition for generations allowing for minor transformations, but generally staying true to the tradition. In this presentation I would like to examine excerpts from both traditional and contemporary choral music that feature some of these folkloric characteristics, and discuss the issues that arise for conductors and performers alike. Specific meters or melodic structures will be considered through the prism of Western music performance practice by following common pedagogical methods. However, I would like to offer an alternative, more authentic path to understanding and performing some of these concepts. Through various exercises and listening examples the listeners should strive to internalize each concept and perform it without having to refer to traditional notation. Whether in the style of Romantic nationalists or contemporary choral composers, these melodic and rhythmic folk idioms have a very specific meaning, value, and performance characteristics that, if approached with deeper understanding of their origins, would lead to more authentic and enriched performance. 

NATAŠA KAURIN-KARAČA is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University, where she teaches Aural Skills, Class Piano and Music Appreciation. Since 2010 Nataša has served as music director of the Stillwater Chamber Singers, an auditioned, community-based choir consisting of singers from the state of Oklahoma. Nataša’s teaching experiences include leading choral programs at the elementary, high school and college levels in Bosnia and the United States. Her musical background is firmly anchored in the Central European choral tradition, and her education began with early training in Kodaly aural skills methods. 
Nataša received her degree in Music Theory and Education from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia, and continued her graduate studies in choral conducting at The Ohio State University under the tutelage of Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt. She participated in masterclasses and took individual studies with renowned artists such as Simon Carrington, Charles Bruffy, Dale Warland, Robert Sund, Marguerite L.Brooks and Jaakko Maantyarvi.


Music Literacy: Using CPDL to Promote Sight Singing in the Choral Classroom
Lauren Whitham, presenter
Friday, March 9, 2018 • 2:15pm
Hilton Broadway I-IV

This workshop features a sight-singing curriculum that utilizes choral scores from various time periods found exclusively in the Choral Public Domain Library. Available for students to access online at school or at home, this program is designed to support music literacy and promote independent learning in the developing mixed chorus. It includes quality repertoire that can be used for pedagogically sequenced daily sight-singing as well as concert performance. 

LAUREN WHITHAM recently completed her doctoral degree at the University of Georgia, where she studied conducting with Dr. Daniel Bara. Ms. Whitham earned her master’s degree in choral conducting from Western Washington University with Dr. Leslie Guelker-Cone, and her bachelor’s degree in music education from Pacific Lutheran University with Dr. Richard Nance. Under her direction, Ms. Whitham’s choirs performed at NAfME conferences in Washington State in 2010 and 2014, and have been recognized at contests and festivals for their superior work. In addition to her work in the public schools, Ms. Whitham has directed university choirs at Western Washington University, Pacific Lutheran University, and the University of Georgia, and has taught undergraduate courses in aural skills, keyboarding, conducting, choral methods, and choral literature. Ms. Whitham’s previous conference presentations include “Music Literacy: Finding the Key to Independent Learning in the Choral Classroom,” and “Creative Classroom Management: Stop Disciplining and Start Teaching.”


Win-Win-Win, Music Production
Ethan Chessin, presenter
Saturday, March 10, 2018 • 8:30am 
Hilton Atrium Ballroom

Who wins when we look outside the choral community for composers, collaborators, and audiences? We all do! Join us for an immersive experience as several experimental musicians, an arts education nonprofit, and a choir director discuss a unique collaborative project model. Since 2015, the Camas High School Choir has been collaborating with indie rockers and innovative artists on new music that draws inspiration from performance art, rock shows, and symphonic composition. Students get to perform music that feels like what they listen to at home, while composers gain access to an expansive palette, and new audiences experience choral music for the first time. Students, composers, and directors will share what they learned, what they gained, and why they’re coming back for more. Young Audiences of Oregon and Southwest Washington, the Northwest’s largest arts education nonprofit, will share resources for replicating this project.

ETHAN CHESSIN teaches at Camas High School in Camas, WA. Since his arrival, enrollment in choir has grown from 45 students to nearly 200. Driven by the belief that music connects and engages students, Ethan has dramatically expanded the music department in his school, adding four choirs, classes on songwriting and piano, and a student orchestra. His ensembles have performed at the Washington Music Educators’ Association Conference, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Time-Based Art Festival, and the World Affairs Council of Oregon’s Teach Latin America Youth Forum. His enduring creation is a recurring yearlong project that pulls back the curtain on the music industry in which students compose music, plan logistics, publicize, and perform music for live concerts and recordings. The Portland Mercury called the culminating concert of 2016’s project “the most life-affirming night of music I’ve experienced in some time, leaving me downright aglow with joy.”




Employing Culturally Responsive Teaching in the Choral Classroom
Andrea VanDeusen, presenter
Saturday, March 10, 2018 • 8:30am
Hilton Broadway I-IV

Increasingly, educators are teaching a diverse student population whose cultural backgrounds differ from their own. These differences may result in challenges in engaging with students, and in finding ways of teaching that are culturally relevant. This session explores Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, and the ways in which teachers incorporate this pedagogy to create a more inclusive and culturally relevant choral classroom environment.

This session will explore the growing student diversity in the music classroom. It will begin with a brief history of culturally relevant/responsive pedagogy, and then explore the existing research on culturally responsive teaching in the music classroom, and specifically, within the choral setting. Session participants will be provided with tangible classroom materials and activities for use in their music classrooms.

ANDREA VANDEUSEN serves as assistant professor of choral music education/conductor at East Carolina University, where she teaches music education courses, including choral methods, and conducts the University Chorale. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in music education from Western Michigan University, and received her Ph.D. in music education (choral conducting cognate) from Michigan State University. VanDeusen has presented at state, national, and international research and practitioner conferences, and maintains an active schedule as a conductor and clinician.




All Roads Lead to Repertoire: Creating a Successful Program through Appropriate Literature Selection
Amy Blosser, presenter
Saturday, March 10, 2018 • 8:30am
Hilton Pavilion West Ballroom

The responsibilities of choral directors in the classroom are numerous and can often seem overwhelming. Serving as the only voice instructor for most students, teaching music literacy and providing creative opportunities for all students are just a few of these demands. The focus of this session will be how the selection of literature is the crux of the choral program and the basis for all other decisions which are made throughout the academic year. As the ACDA National Chair for Repertoire and Resources, I will demonstrate the relationship between literature selection and vocal technique, music literacy, and creative opportunities for students. When developing the instrument of younger singers, issues such as appropriate stylistic and vocal considerations can only be determined by the demands of the literature. Musical literacy must be taught in conjunction with the literature rather than as a separate entity in the rehearsal. Opportunities to collaborate with living composers, local universities and other school or community groups appear when literature selection is of the utmost importance. All of these factors work together to produce lifelong singers as well as an overall successful choral program. This session is intended for directors of younger singers middle school through high school and the tools and ideas presented can be immediately applied to their programs.

AMY JOHNSTON BLOSSER is the National Chair for the Repertoire and Resources Committee for the American Choral Directors Association. She has been active in planning National Conferences in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Salt Lake City and Minneapolis. Under her direction, the Bexley H.S. Vocal Ensemble has performed at state conferences for NAfME and ACDA, as well as the 2012 and 2016 Central Division conferences. Her choirs tour extensively throughout the United States and Europe, including an upcoming June 2018 tour with the Vocal Ensemble throughout Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Blosser was named Educator of the Year for Bexley City Schools in 2011. She was also selected to serve as one of 14 Conducting Fellows for the 2015 ACDA International Conductors Exchange Program to Sweden. In Spring 2017, Blosser won second place in the 2016 Youth and High School Conducting category for The American Prize competition.

© 2019 by  NW ACDA. Proudly created with