2. On a personal level, stay neutral and open up a discussion for your students to share their thoughts and feelings on the meaning of a par ticular piece. Openly and explicitly let them know that they are each entitled to and valued for their own personal beliefs. Insist on a respectful atmosphere in your classrtxmi with zero tolerance for disrespect or intolerance of others’ positions and views.
3. Remind your students that as singers we are also actors; quite often, we sing from the standpoint of the person narrating the song. When we sing, we briefly become that other person in a way and in doing so we are learn ing about who they were and what their life was like. As singers, we need to find connections
to music in order to give our best perfor- mance. Open an honest dialogue with your students and help them find ways to really connect to the meaning (or to their own meaning) of the text or the beauty of the music.
Final Thoughts You have to do what feels right to you,
but for me, this meant programming a wide vari ety of religious and holiday music in December. Parents always thanked me. They wanted to hear music of the season. To protect yourself and be smart about
your programming, educate yourself on ACDA and NAfME’s standards. Anyone who ques tions you will find that you are already pre pared with thoughtful answers to their inquiry. You may be surprised that people are thanking you and not condemn- ing you.
When programming for your choir,
your students and their educational pursuit of excellence is your #1 concern. As educa- tors, we are to “know the learner”. Meet your stu dents where they are, and then you can take them where they need to be. It helps to also know your community. Give them what is important to them, give them the music that they love and relate to, and then you can stretch them little by little and introduce music that is new to them or that takes them a little out of their comfort zone. This plan applies to all styles of music, in- cluding jazz, classical, music with religious text, opera, musical theater, and various popular styles. Remember, real growth in a
choral program takes years, and if you go into this process with this expectation, you will feel less pres sure to suddenly program all of your dream repertoire this semester and have it be widely acclaimed and joyfully received overnight. I really believe that if everyone hears a little of him or herself in your repertoire some where that they will all feel invested in what you have to offer. Everyone will be on board with you and will be less likely to judge. All of us want to be validated, and we want people to hear us. By giving your stu- dents and your audience what is important to them, you are letting them be heard. In turn, they will be more willing to hear what you want to share with them, whether that’s programming more classical music, more foreign language pieces, greater diversity of religious music, or maybe even throwing in a little show choir tune. Music is for every- one. I think we all are in this business be- cause singing brings people together. Your programming has that power.
1 “Sacred Music in Schools.” 2011 National Association for Music Education (NAfME, formerly MENC) 17 June 2011. <http://www.nafme.org/
2 “Policies and Statements.” 2011 American Choral Directors Association. 17 June 2011. <http://acda.org/about_
3 Caldwell, Paul and Ivory, Sean. “Ani Ma’amin”. Earthsongs.
About The Author:
Patricia Kelley Keith serves as a choral clinician, guest conductor and adjudicator. She has served on the board of MCEA and has designed and implemented choral education clinics for Maryland colleagues. She was a vocal and general music educator for Carroll County, MD, Public Schools for thirteen years. Formerly, she was a member of the adjunct music fac ulty at College of Notre Dame of Maryland, teaching Applied Piano. Keith
majored in music at College
of Notre Dame of Maryland with concentrations in piano and voice. She has completed graduate studies in music education, voice, and conducting at Towson and Duquesne Universities, and at
44 MAY 2012
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The Peabody Conservatory of Music. She has performed and served as music
director in theatrical productions; sung with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society; served as soprano soloist at Catonsville United Methodist Church and Gregory Memorial Baptist Church; and has sung professionally throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area. She maintains a home music studio in
Douglassville, Pennsylvania, where she teaches pri vate and group piano and voice lessons and classes to children and adults. Comments are welcome and may be directed to Patricia@PatriciaKeith.net
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