On Thursday, October 20th, IC ACDA held an inspiring workshop entitled “Teaching for Transfer in the Choral Rehearsal,” led by our very own Visiting Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education, Dr. Linfors. This presentation was focused on utilizing moments in the rehearsal that have a singular, specific objective to give students the opportunity to transfer the information they learn in one aspect of rehearsal to another.
Dr. Linfors started the workshop by talking about the reversal of the warm up. He talked about how the typical choral rehearsal starts with warm ups, followed later by rehearsal of a variety of choral pieces. Then, he asked us what would happen if we “reversed the warm up,” which was followed by confused silence. Dr. Linfors explained this method as thinking of concepts that students need to focus on in order to improve performance on the pieces you later plan to rehearse with the students.
Then Dr. Linfors split us up into three groups, each assigned the task of presenting a choral warm up that addressed challenging vocal and choral issues unique to that specific piece. Each group was given about five minutes to collaborate. Then we gathered back together and shared our warm ups, explaining how they addressed a specific passage or trait of their assigned piece. Dr. Linfors then asked the group why it is important to incorporate concepts into your warm ups that will apply to the chosen repertoire. As a group, we truly began to come to the conclusion that the element and skill of transferring information from one context to another is a highly important skill and one we all wish to encourage in our students. But in a more specific musical manner, when the teacher provides their students with a new concept in a warm up, then the students can go into a rehearsal of the piece with more informed ears, goals, and strategies in mind to assist them in achieving the desired goals shared in both warm up and rehearsal.
Dr. Linfors then switched gears after this deliberation and we talked about the promotion of solfege at the high school. We talked about the tendency for high school teachers to introduce the solfege scale and then expose their students to solfege primarily with sing new songs. This manner, in effect, can lead to assuming that all your students have similar solfege reading abilities when there are often a few students who are and many followers. Dr. Linfors suggests that we promote the use of solfege in our students to a point where when students hear a series of notes, they will hear solfege syllables. One example of the great suggestions Dr. Linfors gave us is for an elementary setting. Teachers can add a verse in a song that has the solfege syllables as the text. This way, when students are remembering the song, they can more easily recall the solfege syllables and retain the intervallic relationships in the song.
What happened next was one of the most exciting parts of this workshop. He passed out a copy of Palestrina’s Sicut Cervus to everybody and the room went silent. This silence was then broken by frantic humming and exasperated sighs due to each of the four parts, SATB, reading their own respective clefs. So Dr. Linfors gave the preparatory gesture and off we went!
We got through the first two systems, probably as best as could be expected. All of a sudden, when we got to the third system of music, there was solfege written in and the sight-reading level went up by at least 200 percent. The lesson of this exercise was one that I will not soon forget. Personally, I completely forgot what it was like to struggle so hard to read music and I think this was an important exercise in being able to empathize with your students. Additionally, this was a lesson in the power of giving your students the opportunity to transfer something that they already know, solfege, to an unknown concept, different clefs, in order to be able to perform with accuracy. Dr. Linfors suggests that we should be including solfege in the songs we chose for our students’ repertoire right up until the concert. If we switch to having the students sing on text right before students are beginning to get the solfege, they will most likely never improve their solfege, or music reading, abilities.
This workshop was teeming with brilliant and exciting ideas about the element of transfer especially related to solfege and rehearsal structure that I cannot wait to add to my tool belt as an aspiring choral music educator.
~Matthew Coveney, IC ACDA Public Relations Officer
Today, IC’s ACDA chapter was extremely fortunate to have the chance to learn from alumnus Dominick DiOrio, in which he discussed his time at IC and all that came afterward. He began the workshop by sharing his experiences at IC as a composition major and lover of choral conducting. The Q&A-type discussion led by Dr. DiOrio was informative and uplifting, and we all walked away inspired by his passion for choral music.
Dr. DiOrio began by telling stories of being in Ithaca College’s Chorus with our advisor, Dr. Galvan, as his conductor, and how she fostered his love for choral music and conducting. He and Dr. Galvan shared with us their memories of working together at IC in Chorus and Conducting Class, and Dr. DiOrio discussed how those memories were formative in his career as a composer and conductor. He then discussed the importance of text when composing, where he finds inspiration, the importance of strong technique in conducting, and his experience as a member of IC’s chapter of ACDA.
We are very lucky to have had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Dr. DiOrio about his experience at IC and his life as a composer and conductor. The work he does in the choral community makes us very proud to go to Ithaca College.
-Leah Sperber, '20
On Thursday, September 22nd, IC ACDA held its first workshop of the year. The session was entitled "Empowering All Through Repertoire Choices," and it was led by our chapter advisor and IC's own Director of Choral Activities, Dr. Janet Galvan. The presentation focused on selecting and teaching high quality repertoire for developing voices. Dr. Galvan, having worked with singers of all ages throughout her career, is an expert on this topic, and we were very fortunate to have this opportunity to learn from her extensive wisdom and knowledge.
The workshop explored an extremely wide variety of repertoire. We were exposed to dozens of musical selections of varying difficulty levels, and Dr. Galvan suggested an age group that might benefit from learning each piece that she presented. There were also many different cultures and musical styles represented amongst the pieces we played with during the session. Dr. Galvan spoke very eloquently about the educational value of the music; each piece had some sort of movement and/or ear training activity attached to it.
We were on our feet almost the entire time, singing, dancing, and playing games together, the way we would in a vocal/general music classroom setting. One of the first activities we participated in was a passing game, in which we all sat in a circle on the floor and passed stones around to each other to the beat of the Ghanaian folk song "Obwisana." Dr. Galvan also taught us multiple tunes by rote, many of which were paired with simple choreography that enhanced the meaning of the music. She discussed the origins and cultural relevance of each piece, so that the Music Education majors who were present could be well-equipped to provide our own students with authentic musical learning experiences.
Upon entering the room for the workshop, each of us had been given a thick packet of choral octavos for our perusal. We had an absolute blast sight-reading through several of these pieces during the workshop! Dr. Galvan guided us through the roadmap of each piece, calling attention to technical challenges and pointing out musical qualities that set these pieces apart as exemplars of healthy choral repertoire for young musicians. She touched upon considerations of vocal range, subject matter, rhythmic complexity, and more when explaining which age groups would be best suited to learn each piece. We explored music by many different composers, from Jim Papoulis to Rollo Dilworth. I particularly enjoyed learning the Three Dominican Folk Songs, a Spanish set arranged by Dr. Francisco Nunez. For these pieces, Dr. Galvan pointed out the way the composer had underscored simple folk melodies with unconventional harmonies in the accompaniment, and we talked about how exciting it is for young people to perform such interesting and innovative music. I also loved singing the Songs from Gahu, arranged by Kathy Armstrong, and learning the associated dance. As a Junior Student Teacher, I am working with first and second graders this semester, and I fully intend to incorporate the Songs from Gahu and several other pieces discussed in this workshop with my students!
We are so grateful to Dr. Janet Galvan for taking the time to share her invaluable expertise with us. She is a terrific resource, and we are incredibly lucky to have her as a teacher, conductor, and ACDA Chapter Advisor! The wealth of information that she presented on Thursday is sure to be useful to all of us in our musical endeavors, and particularly to those of us who are currently or will soon be student teaching! For anyone who missed out on this wonderful night of music-making: see below for a complete repertoire list, as well as a handout with supplementary information!
~ Juliana Joy Child, IC ACDA President-Elect
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