Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The light at the end of the funnel

Last week, we went on vacation for the first time in 9 years. A family vacation in a rented beach house on Galveston Island - there were 10 of us - 6 adults and 4 children under 3yo. I don't remember the last time I was that relaxed for 8 whole days. Crazy, loud, chaotic, disorganized, but it was very fun. I was so happy not to be in charge of anything. I needed that time. I took work with me, but I didn't touch it.

Today, I spent the day at school. Look, read, play, analyze, research....all to find that I am near the end of repertoire decisions. At one point, I had 15-20 pieces of music in front of me and I just said Yes and No to each one. That process left me with 11-15 pieces. Ugh. There are pieces that I just LOVE so much. They will be left on the cutting room floor. Then I began to put the pieces on paper. Title, composer, arranger, publisher, voicing, accompaniment, key signature, tempo, form, language, and PML grade. How does each piece stack up against the other?

Here is the bottom end of the funnel:  I am down to 12 pieces. 8 standout pieces. 4 backups. There are 5 foreign languages. 4 a cappella pieces. 4 pairings.

At the end of the day, I was pleased with my work. I felt relieved. In the next couple of weeks, I could have a program complete.

Next, the grocery store. On my way out, I ran into Dennis Boyter. He congratulated me and told me to enjoy the process.

I am enjoying the process. So much. I wouldn't enjoy it if I wasn't prepared. In fact, today, I started getting excited about all of the other parts of the choir program today - picking music for other groups, cleaning up the choir library, filing papers, etc.

Friday, June 15, 2012

More & more & more...

Today, I received a packet of new music in the mail. More perusal copies. Some of which I LOVE, but it is too difficult for the girls. Way, Way, Way too difficult. I've been listening to music on youtube, jwpepper, carlfischer, & other websites. Now that I see the music - I realize the complexity of it. ugh. I was concentrating on finding piano accompanied pieces of music with decent English texts. This is a needle in the haystack or as my husband says I'm "looking for my unicorn."

The truth is I LOVE the use of foreign language in choral music. I could choose a whole program full of foreign language pieces. English text has to be thick, rich, and lush for me to pay attention and it should have a deeper meaning for the girls. And NO whispered text. It's a non-negotiable. So, I'll begin reading again. At this point, I have looked at and listened to enough music, it's time to beginning sightreading pieces. Finding each piece's teachability. I think I have some gems in this pile. I think.....the program is within... and no, I'm not choosing Dance On My Heart.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Swirling together

All morning, I have been diving through websites, listening to music, making notes, ordering perusal copies........I feel like the surface has been skimmed. Barely. There is SO MUCH MORE to listen to, but it is all starting to run together.

I have dived through the following websites
I have not even ventured into Santa Barbara & Colla Voce yet. Or National Music Publishers. There are so many choral music publishers, I can't keep up. And now, most of them are subsidiaries of bigger corporations. It's just money.

Perusal Frustration - music publishers need to spend a little more time, money, & effort on websites. They have NO IDEA how difficult their websites are to navigate, let alone listen or view music. Why would I only want to listen to a excerpt of the music? Why would I want to only listen to the music and not see the copy? Listening to music reveals very little about range, tessitura, and key signature. So, I end ordering about $100 worth of perusal music (single copy octavos) from a variety of websites just to see the printed copy that they won't reveal online. I'll be honest and say that Carl Fischer is winning this game hands down. Although I care nothing about practice recordings, Carl Fischer/BriLee allows me to view and listen to the full piece of music. Somehow, they have managed to secure their property so that you can't print or download the files from the website. The website is easy to navigate. I don't say all of this because I know Rae or Denise, who are associated with the company. I say this because the company is providing a valuable resource to me, the consumer. I wish more music publishers would figure out how to solve this problem.

Somewhere in the midst of this perusing, I need to clean my office, reorganize my choral library, and choose music for the other choirs. Oh, yeh......them. It's only the 2nd week of June and I feel like time is running away from me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reality Check

For those parents who did not attend the Advanced Treble Choir meeting during the last week of school, I have been meeting with them individually. Making sure that everyone is on the same page. Gathering signed commitment contracts. Nothing like a different perspective to bring it all home today. A parent asked me why a bunch of choir directors would go to San Antonio to listen to a choir concert. I had to regain my composure and think of an appropriate & practical answer.

Perspective is delightful and scary. This is huge & important to me.  To my profession. As with any topic in education, I have sell the importance of this artistic experience to the parents and students.

It really means nothing. Do I believe that? No. However, finding purpose in this experience will be a challenge. It has to be about more than getting out of school for a day and traveling to San Antonio. It must become about SHARING MUSIC with our community. I can't control what parents & students think about this experience, but I don't want them to view it as "just one more thing to do."

Art takes time and effort. Have we, as a society, lost sight of this standard?

The deadlines

This weekend, I received the initial detail email from Janwin Overstreet-Goode, TMEA Vocal Division VPres. Some deadlines are sooner than I anticipated. Program Repertoire has to be selected & submitted by the last week of June. Group photos are due mid-late September. Performance times will be finalized in September. Eeegads!

Monday, June 4, 2012

My head is full of music

My brain is full. Overwhelmed with melodies, harmonies, instrumentation.....the list goes on and on....but I can't take a break yet. I am going to work through the music until I find a path that fits correctly.

Today, I met with Denise Eaton to discuss programming - she is a wealth of knowledge and skill. Just 2 hours, but I would have loved a couple of days with her. I would love to take her Choral Methods class at SHSU - it would be worth every penny.

I showed her my Yes and Maybe piles. Small, but notable. She liked the ideas, but said there are too many language pieces, too many a cappella pieces, and too many folk songs in the piles. Hmmm...I needed to hear this, a different perspective. Regroup and look for accompanied pieces with English text. Not my strongest skill, but that will improve. I have time.

Admittedly, not all English texts appeal to me. Some nature texts are just way too abstract and composers don't always fit the music to the text. Some texts are too cheesy for me. And I can be the Queen of kids sing Gilpin's Why We Sing every year.

Denise is worried that I seem anxious. Honestly, I don't feel that way right now. I am just trying to process incoming information and compartmentalize it all. But anxiety is okay, at this point. Anxiety will make me work to achieve the goals on time. Then I let all of the puzzle pieces fall into place and get the girls on stage.

It was such a thick conversation in a short amount of time. It is easy to understand why people love and revere her.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The real question....

What am I going to wear?!?!?!?!? on stage, that is. I didn't do anything TMEA related today except ponder this question. It's valid.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Today, after a perfunctory meeting, I dove into the music. My head ready to organize & read. I didn't get there. Michael came over as planned for the reading session. He played for 2 hours, I listened. Out of 100+ pieces we skimmed, there are about 12 worthy of a second look. 10-12 of those we have found could be paired by theme, instrumentation, key, period, ethnicity, etc.
I will have to go back through & READ the music. Find the teaching plans within each of them. Delve through rhythms, pitches, intervallic relationships, harmonics, line, form, chord analysis, style....the list goes on & on.
For now, a rest. This weekend, I'll be a wife, a mom, a girl.....these hats need to be worn in order to achieve balance.