An Interview with Andrea Ramsey: Sara Cowan (Women’s R&R)

I’ve been captivated by the music of Andrea Ramsey for some time.  I find the texts she chooses to be particularly compelling, and the music she writes is beautiful and complex while accessible for young singers. I have attended sessions she gave at national ACDA conferences and I’ve always been impressed.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask: Chris Storm (Contemporary & Commercial R&R)

This topic has been a normal phrase in my classroom for years. My students know that they will not get answers for any questions that they don’t take the time to ask. They are also very aware that the worst thing that can happen when asking is not getting an answer or hearing a definite no. Even as it relates to their other school work and teachers, I’m always telling my high school singers they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help, ask for more time, ask for more information – basically just to ask!

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Vocal Jazz Festival: David von Kampen (Vocal Jazz R&R)

The NCDA Vocal Jazz Festival will be Monday, March 19 at Columbus High School. The clinician is John Stafford, the Director of Choral Music at Kansas City Kansas Community College. The registration form will be available soon.
We are also excited to announce that Matt Falker, director of vocal jazz at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, CA, will be the clinician for the Nebraska All State Jazz Choir this July. More information about auditions for this ensemble will be available in the coming months.
As always, email David ( or Celeste ( with any questions about either of these events.

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:

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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.

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Collegiate Choir Festival: Bill Wyman (Collegiate Choirs R&R)

Nine collegiate choirs from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Doane University and Nebraska Wesleyan University will be participating in a clinic/concert as a part of the 2017 Nebraska Intercollegiate Choral Festival. Dr. Andrew Last from Luther College will serve as the clinician. A closing concert 7:00 p.m. Sunday, October 22 at the First Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln will conclude the festival. Each participating choir will perform and all will combine for a mass choir piece under the direction of Dr. Last. The concert is free and open to the public. For information on how to participate with your choir, contact Dr. Wyman.

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.

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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

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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.

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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:

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