Tomorrow, I will enjoy the great honor of presenting Curry College and Triad: Boston’s Choral Collective to participants in the Massachusetts ACDA Summer Conference. In my interest session, I get to share about how Triad functions and how the lessons I’ve learned there have shaped what we do in Sing! at Curry.
Preparing for this opportunity has allowed me to reflect—something I don’t do nearly often enough. In the heat—the actual hotness—of battle (Urinetown fans, represent), it’s so easy to focus on what went wrong or what needs to be fixed, that it’s hard to see progress. And yet, Curry’s choir has tripled in the last three years and is on pace this fall to see its largest ensemble in many years. Students, administrators, and other faculty members regularly ask about concerts or comment on how proud they are of what these amazing musicians contribute to our community. We’re collaborating with other programs and disciplines, from dance to philosophy, psychology, and history, and our choir has joined colleges from across the state to present Orff, Purcell, and Hampton.
But what really thrills me is seeing students so excited about music that they’re asking what they can do this summer to prepare for the fall. They’re worried about forgetting what they’ve learned! They’re asking when this class or that class will come around in the rotation, because they don’t want to miss it. They’re sad that a course filled that they really wanted to take.
What’s at the core of this? I really believe it has a lot to do with what I’ve learned from Triad.
Triad has taught me the power of collaboration. I’ve been a part of many choirs who talked about collaboration. Dr. Johnson and Dr. Hetzel preached servant leadership and teamwork at Kentucky, and there was a lot of sharing and working together that happened there, for sure. However, collaboration in a collective takes those concepts to a much higher level. Here, we rotate leadership. We listen to ideas, no matter who offers them. We discuss massive changes, just because someone thinks it might work better—and sometimes, we even enact those crazy, new ideas or massive changes. We aren’t perfect, and we’re still figuring out how this works, but I’ve never had so much fun working on a life-sized jigsaw puzzle with friends.
So at Curry, I do everything possible to elicit crazy, new ideas. Students have assignments like revising the syllabus, suggesting long- and short-term goals for the ensemble, helping to select repertoire (and discussing the pros and cons of various options), designing a publicity and social media campaign, and in so many ways, casting a greater vision for the organization as a whole. I’m not sure where we will end up, but—we—will get there together, and the journey will be an exhilarating ride.
For now, the destination is Smith College, Sage Hall, Room 215, July 18, 2017 at 1:30 PM, but what I’m most excited about is setting sail on the next leg of Sing!'s (can't forget the exclamation point) voyage in the Alumni Recreation Center at 4:15 PM on Monday, August 28 and a simultaneous trek through uncharted repertoire with Triad. Why am I so excited about getting back to rehearsals? Well, let me share the conclusion of tomorrow’s presentation (not to let the cat out of the bag)…
At the risk of being overly dramatic, I believe choirs can change the world. It’s why I do this. … Collectives like C4 and Triad present an ongoing opportunity for each member to be the hero. To step up and take the lead on this project or that committee, as positions rotate among the members. Indeed, every step toward greater collaboration in our ensembles opens a door for a future hero or team of heroes. Through egalitarian thinking and consensus-building, we have a golden opportunity to demonstrate for our singers what civic engagement can and should look like. In so doing, we join a long line of musicians on the vanguard of societal change.
I hope you will meet me on that edge of society…
Post Interest Session Follow-up
Thank you to all who attended today's session! I had a great time sharing and brainstorming with you. If I can be of any further assistance, don't hesitate to contact me!
Also, Triad is planning a "schools concert" in February/March. If you would like more information on your students performing with us, click the "Contact" link above. Also, we'd love to have you join our ensemble, so feel free to ask about upcoming auditions!
Here is the Prezi presentation that I shared today.
These are the steps we brainstormed for introducing Sing Child to ourselves:
- Sing the mode
- Conversation about earliest childhood memories
- Find those memories in the text
- Look for stuff
- Tell the story—growth and change
- Canon through page 5—all sing one of the parts together, 2-part canon
- Read through the text
- Prepare rhythms in isolation
You can find out more about Charles Turner (composer of Sing Child) at www.hand2ear.net