So You Want to Start a Choral Festival: Sara Cowan (Women’s R&R)

Last month, after only a few weeks of preparation, Georg Getty, David Groth, and I hosted the first ever Omaha Public Schools Men’s Chorus Festival. It was a learning experience for all of us, but it ended up being a mostly successful, if exhausting, event, so as we reflect and evaluate and plan for next year, I thought it might be helpful to jot down our process:

read more

My First Year Teaching: What I Wish I’d Known by Hunter Boe (District 1 East)

The first year of teaching can be a stressful, intimidating, difficult experience, full of information overload. This is due, in part, to the onslaught of new information and unfamiliar responsibilities that come with being a music educator. Of the many things for which I prepared, via methods, conducting, and theory classes, the unknown and the unexpected moments for which I did not prepare, provided much of the challenge and reward of my first year teaching. In an effort to support and encourage both young and experienced teachers, I am sharing some of what I learned from my first year of teaching.

read more

Relationships In and Out of the Classroom: Lacey Franzen (District 1W)

It seems to be contagious. One administrator starts talking and sharing; the ESU gives the same idea, then districts jump into the game. The buzz words surrounding building relationships and creating more than just a classroom where kids spend much of their year listening and learning are all around. Now, a buzz phrase it may be, but building relationships with those that walk through the doors must be the primary focus of the vocal music room these beginning weeks of the school year. Without relationships in place, students are not going to care what they are singing, or for that matter, want to learn at all. It is the director’s job to start the ball rolling.

read more

Worship Music Summer Conference Presentation: Jason Horner (Worship R&R)

Below are the notes from my Presentation at this past summer’s conference. If you are interested in the full PowerPoint presentation which includes videos, please email me.

NCDA Summer Conference Improving our craft and community, Worship Interest Session- July 2017

For the Beauty of Worship: Selecting, preparing, and performing choral music in worship

read more

Working with Developmental Singers: Amanda Stevenson (Children’s R&R)

Perhaps the single most important factor in determining positive choral experiences for children is repertoire selection. Teachers must work to select age-appropriate singing material, even in the early stages of singing development. One teaching strategy that must not be overlooked with beginning singers who lack training and experience is the Independence Hierarchy, outlined by Dr. Judy Bowers at Florida State University. The Independence Hierarchy structures sequenced, successive progress from unison singing through independently singing part songs. Rehearsal pacing, classroom management, and classroom climate generally deteriorate in rehearsals involving inadequate repertoire selection.  Therefore, repertoire selection plays a huge role in rehearsal success for developmental choirs of all ages.

read more

Engagement in the Choral Classroom: Sara Cowan (Women’s R&R)

It’s mid-July, which means it’s time to start thinking about the next school year!

If your school is like mine, “engagement” is a word that is tossed around a lot to try and raise student achievement. The choral classroom is a natural place for student engagement, and choral rehearsals already engage students more than the average class. That said, some of the greatest teachers I know have found ways to deepen student engagement in some profound ways. Here are some engagement strategies I’ve stolen from the greats:

read more