Women’s Choir blog – April 2020

Molly Gonring – NCDA Women’s Choir R&R

I am a humble fanatic of the awesome sounds you can make with treble music. Manipulating the sounds and stretching the potential of my students singing treble music is one of my favorite parts of my job.

The cancellation of District Music Contest this year, among many other things, truly broke my heart. I send all music teachers out their virtual wishes of health and happiness. To combat my sadness, I would like to chat about two DMC treble music sets and why I chose them.


Set 1

Deus Noster Refugium – Knecht (SSAA) –

Weep No More – Childs (SSAA) –

Lineage – Ramsey (SSA) –


Set 2

Dies Irae – Stroope (SSA) –

I Will Be Earth – Walker (SSA) –

Ain’-a That Good News! – arr. Dawson (SSAA) –

^ There are mostly SATB recordings out there, and I will gladly send you my recording if you would like to hear it.


(This part of my post is subtitled, “Understanding my Treble Singers through repertoire, a Memoire”)

My treble singers love singing aggressive tunes. That being said, it was impossible to not program Deus Noster Refugium and Dies Irae. Both years, my low singers loved to belt. I also needed to give my sopranos a safe outlet to expand their range and really feel comfortable opening up in their high range. I really did not give them an option to “sing scared” with these two tunes.

(Both of these tunes I would only give to advanced singers.)

I love teaching “ballads” that aren’t about butterflies and blatant love lost. I do not like living in that world with my singers.Weep No More and I Will be Earth both have mature texts that I could relate to my high school singers’ lives with satisfying melodic lines. The phrasing and textual emphasis you can teach with these two tunes is, for lack of a better word, yummy.

(Both of these tunes were learned by advanced singers, however, could be taught to intermediate high school singers)

Lineage served many purposes for my singers. My alto section was a FORCE this specific year. (See score, you’ll “get it.”) Another cool moment we had with this piece was inviting our two female band directors to play the percussion parts. It was a powerful experience to say the least.

(This tune was taught to advanced singers, however, could have been taught to intermediate high school singers.)

Ain’-a That Good News! was an intentional challenge for my singers. This tune is a cappella with many challenging stylistic elements. We worked diction and dynamics tirelessly and they left choir class with their brains on fire many days. (*insert evil laugh*) It was not perfect at DMC, but they felt proud to share their work on this incredible tune. It was a gorgeous journey that made them better musicians. Isn’t that the point?

(I would only give this tune to advanced singers.)

Feel free to reach out to me if you want to chat treble music!

Molly Gonring

Interpreting Music as Musicians

Submitted by NCDA District 2 East Representative, Tyler Buglewicz


The beginning of December is usually around the time of year where we begin to experience the true “grind” when it comes to working with our choirs. We find ourselves repeating ourselves quite often, and getting students to truly experience the joy of creating a truly nuanced and emotional musical product seems like a difficult task. read more

From the Top: November 2018

Submitted by NCDA President, A.J. Reimer


I’d like to officially invite you to a party I’m hosting. A lot of cool people are going to attend. There will be live music. AND prizes! Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

read more

Pride: Product vs. Process

We are currently preparing for a concert with a University choir. This concert is a wonderful opportunity for our kids and community to experience music making at a completely different level, to further develop a goal image for their own sound, and to see the discipline a great choir exudes. If this is such a wonderful opportunity, why am I so nervous? It’s in these moments that I feel the most stress, pressure, and desire to do well. As a result, I am more irritable and less empathetic, a worse teacher, to be sure. When I reflect on a challenging day, I often ask, “why am I experiencing this fear and stress?” Going further, “what’s the source of my desire to do well? Is it pride? Is it a desire to have people think I’m a great teacher? Am I working with my students’ best interests at heart?” When I get anxiety about a specific performance, it almost always stems from selfish motivations.

I am reminded of what Allen Hightower said at this summer’s NCDA conference. “Have you, have we, sometimes been guilty of using the choir to fulfill our own needs for success?” This statement hits startlingly close to home.

It’s my goal to use these words, and others from his presentation (which can be found in the NCDA blog post archive) as reminders to spend these last few weeks of preparation with a renewed focus on my students and their experience, on joy and expressivity over perfection, on process over product.

I write this blog as reminder to consistently demand excellence from myself, not only in the music, but also in a personal, relational sense. Additionally, I share this as an encouragement to anyone who may be bogged down with difficult rehearsal prep, feeling stressed because of various obstacles, or struggling finding the joy in the process. Return to what inspired you, to what made you want to be a teacher and share that joy with your students!

Best of luck,

Hunter Boe


We Need a Nice Bike In Our Lives Today

Submitted by District 1 West Rep, Lacey Franzen

I started into school for the first day with students three weeks ago. It was a brilliant day outside and one that made me excited to be in the school system for another year. It was also helpful that my daughter was exuberant to be back at school to see her friends (and go to class, I’m sure). How cool!

read more

Fill the house with singing and your hearts with praise! Psalm 147

Fill the house with singing and your hearts with praise! Psalm 147


I am finishing up some score selection for my choir today. I am constantly struck by how the Holy Spirit moves to help me find exactly what the Lord needs in worship for each week. I don’t say this without knowing that there will be work, and sweat, but hopefully no blood, involved in getting these pieces up and ready.

read more

From the Top: September 2018

Submitted by NCDA President, A.J. Reimer


As I was picking out music for my Freshmen choir this year, I found that I had an entire stack of music that I was bored with. I have completely fallen into a rut of doing the same thing, again and again. The music is still great, but I needed a change. Fortunately, NCDA has resources available for exactly this thing!

read more

From the Top August 2018

Submitted by President, AJ Reimer


On July 11 we officially welcomed Lyn Bouma and Matt Hill to the executive board as our new secretary and treasurer. The following week, the five of us met individually to get to work. We have a lot to talk about!

read more

Cornell Runestad Award 2018

Jim Elsberry is the recipient of the Cornell Runestad Lifetime Achievement Award

Crete, NE — July 10, 2018 – James “Jim” Elsberry was posthumously named as the recipient of the Cornell Runestad Lifetime Achievement Award. Jim’s son, Austin Elsberry, accepted the award on behalf of his father at the NCDA Awards banquet on July 10, 2018. The Cornell Runestad Award, presented by the Nebraska Choral Directors Association, is to be given to a deserving choral director in Nebraska. It is intended to honor those professionals that have made the commitment to singers in Nebraska through choirs under their direction. The inspiration of their artistry has touched many lives, and has set the bar for the many directors who follow in their paths. In short, they have left a legacy.

read more

Repertoire Selection for Children: Amanda Stevenson, Children’s Choir R & R

Watching the faces of our singers as choral repertoire becomes part of them is one of the great joys of being a conductor. The integration of musical meaning and human understanding can only occur if we provide participants with quality repertoire that is developmentally appropriate. Selecting the appropriate repertoire for an ensemble to support effective study and meaningful performance is one of the most important jobs of a music educator. Before selecting repertoire, you must know where your students are musically and where you would like for them to be after the performance. In this blog post, I’ll approach the task of choosing choral music for children by considering several different factors.

read more