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