In my face to face meeting with Rollo Dilworth yesterday, he suggested that I come to this session where he was one of four panelists discussing the problems and possibilities in choral methods courses, and I'm so glad that I did. The session was incredible, and taught me so much that I can take beyond Choral Methods courses into the classroom!
The session consisted of four panelists: Rollo Dilworth, Judy Bowers, Steven Demorest, and Patrick Freer. They each had 8 minutes to present, and then we had the opportunity to ask questions and have discussions. Here is a summary of what each panelist presented:
Dr. Dilworth started out with a VERY fun exercise: He had us say the words Latte (in a high head voice), Water (in a mixed middle voice), and Root Beer (in a low chest voice). He then told a story with us filling in the blanks of the three drinks exercising our whole range. Dr. Dilworth explained that by exercising these different parts of our voices we were demonstrating that all three voices could have a place in choral music.
This transitioned into Dr. Dilworth explaining about the idea of Culturally Responsive Teaching (Geneva Gay) and how we as choral directors, can apply it to the choral classroom. He suggested several resources including NAfME's book: "Teaching Music in the Urban Classroom." He also stressed the importance of having a core sound with singers that have different colors and weights for different songs and for different styles. Dr. Dilworth also suggested ideas about demonstrating cultural caring, and cross cultural communication with students.
Dr. Dilworth left us with the idea that in traditional teaching methods: product is taught first, then process, and then people. However we should switch the paradigm and teach the PEOPLE first, then teach the process, and with those two ideas in mind the product will come.
Dr. Bowers took the session by a storm (Can I get an Amen?!). She focused on our need to emphasize attendance in public schools and for that to happen we need to have people in our Choir! She suggested that we should expand our idea of what musicians can be in our groups and gave us suggestions on how to teach musicians who can't read music in choir.
She suggested outlining musical "rules" at the beginning of rehearsals and then rather than correcting students when something goes wrong, simply ask them which rule they broke- and they would make the fix! She also suggested using terminology that is more accessible to everyone, i.e. a Slur would be "lean, shut up, shut up."
She left us with the idea that we should focus on teaching music to everyone: people in public schools, community choirs, even prisons, and that equity should be at the center of our teaching.
Patrick Freer focused on using research-based techniques and employing a model of transparency in the choral classroom. He centered his ideas mainly on adolescent boys, but it could be applied to any teaching situation. He also discussed the necessity to keep a balance between pedagogy and research and how teaching assessments (such as EdTPA) might actually be a good way to teach choral directors to use pedagogy in the classroom.
Steven Demorest focused on teaching the students to be individual musicians with musicianship skills. He also stressed the importance of music literacy. We also discussed how we could use our students as mentors in the classroom, giving them more responsibility will keep them engaged further on in their musical learning.
Overall, the workshop was very informative and I know my peers and I learned many things to take with us in our future endeavors.
-Rebecca Saltzman, Senior, IC ACDA President
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