I attended the session called "How a Conductor Thinks: Real-Time Decision Making in the Rehearsal" led by Dr. Jerry Blackstone. This workshop mainly focused on how to run an effective rehearsal and engage your choir. One of the most interesting parts of this workshop was that the choir Blackstone conducted consisted of audience volunteers; I was lucky enough to be one of them.
For me, this was especially meaningful because I worked with Dr. Blackstone two years ago with the NAFME honor choir. During this session, we worked on the same piece I performed with him before, "Ballad to The Moon" by Daniel Elder. This piece is one of my all-time favorites and it was an honor to sing this piece again with him.
The choir was composed of singers of all ages and levels, so it was interesting to watch how Blackstone would execute his rehearsal. One of the biggest points he emphasized was that when you stop the choir, don't fix just one thing: fix as many issues as possible to make the pause worthwhile. Also, he stressed connection with the choir members. One major reason that Dr. Blackstone was able to get the sound he wanted was that he quickly gained the choir's trust. He was energetic, funny, and serious - essential ingredients behind a great conductor. Another technique he suggested was repetition. Once you have fixed a problem spot, run it a couple times to lock it in.. Working and learning from Blackstone was a true delight. His workshop was impactful and inspiring to me.
-Christian Brand, IC ACDA '19
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