On Thursday, Nov. 13th, Dr. Susan Avery held a workshop to discuss the uses of a piano in a choral classroom and what kind of "magic" you can create with it. This workshop was especially important to me, because my aspiration is to become a choral teacher, and my primary instrument is piano, so I wanted to learn how to best use my instrument when I am teaching. Dr. Avery is also my mentor for junior student-teaching this semester, so I knew how often she used the word "magic" in mentor meetings with me. A very effective way to keep kids engaged in what you say and do in your classroom is by using different techniques to create an effect that is close to magic.
Dr. Avery gave two primary perspectives: one from the eyes of a collaborator, and one that is probably relatable to a lot of us - being the teacher AND collaborator in your classroom. She explained these in the context of the song "Oye La Musica" by Jay Althouse. It was very interesting to see her teach right from the start with accompaniment. She brought up a good point - that many teachers wait to put in the accompaniment 3 days before the concert, but the accompaniment is an important part of the music that kids should hear in order to continue developing their ears.
Another point that I really took to heart was about physically hurting yourself by using the pedal. Teachers will often stand when using the piano because they usually have an upright piano. So in order to see the kids, they stand, play, and use the pedal. To do that, it's easiest to shift your weight all on one foot and leg. This can cause a lot of problems physically. Dr. Avery showed us that the pedal is not even necessary most of the time -- using finger legato can solve most of it.
Anyways, don't take my word for this amazing workshop -- watch it yourself! We recorded the whole thing in case you missed it. Enjoy!
-Sunhwa Reiner, ACDA President-Elect
As a freshman, I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I signed up to be a guide at the Choral Composition Competition and Festival. I was told that it was going to be a long day, and it was. I was told that it might be stressful at times to try and keep the hundreds of high schoolers under control, and it was. What they didn't tell me was how much I would learn from this experience. Each guide was assigned a high school group to work with for the entire day. All we really had to do was set up their rehearsal rooms, direct them to their places in the auditorium, help them on and off of the risers, and lead them to the dining hall for meals, but we also got to observe their rehearsals throughout the day. It was fascinating to watch the group warming up at the beginning of the day and then hear how their sound changed throughout the day as the students learned new things about choral music. I could tell that the students were gaining a lot, particularly from the composer whose piece they were commissioning; they were very receptive to his descriptions of the emotions that the piece was meant to convey. Sitting in the back of the rehearsal room, I thought, what a wonderful opportunity this was for high school students...to have the chance to work closely with a composer and premiere a new piece...and I was so happy to be a part of it. I learned a lot from observing rehearsals with West Genesee High School; as an aspiring music educator, I obviously enjoy watching high school music teachers in action, and I definitely learned some techniques at Choral Comp that I may one day apply to my own teaching. But, of all of the rehearsals and performances that went on throughout the day, my favorite part of Choral Comp was at the very end, when all of the high school and college choral students got together and sang the Sanctus from Mozart's Missa Brevis. I was surrounded by high school students for both the rehearsal and the performance, and I could viscerally feel their awe and excitement in response to the glorious sound we were creating together. Seeing their joy as they sang reminded me of the reason I'm studying music education: because communal music making is the most beautiful thing in the world, and I want to help as many students as possible to experience the happiness that it brings. My experience at Choral Comp made me proud to be at Ithaca College, and especially proud to be a member of ACDA!
Ithaca College 18'
One of the high school groups, Ward Melville High, singing "Images of Stars" by Richard Ewer, which received 2nd place.
Welcome to our site!