Sunday, August 5, 2012

Choosing Music

Some people ask me "How do you order all of your music for the entire year?"

Here's the answer:
1. Choral Literature - I know the pieces I have in my possession.
2. Students - I know my student's voices and how they sing together.

About 7 years ago, I began this routine because Frank Bennett encouraged me to try it as a way of being more prepared and getting to know choral literature. It works.

Each summer, I read as much music as I possibly can. The first summer (2006), while teaching at Hildebrandt, I took 1 piece of music out of EVERY file in the choir library (that's over 500 pieces of music). I took the music home, sorted it by voicing (SA, SSA, TB, TTB, SAB, SATB, etc.) on the dining room table, and began reading music. Every day during that summer, I would sit at the piano (in the dining room) and play/read/sing music for 2-3 hrs at a time. After each reading, I made notes on the front cover of each piece. Then I put the piece in one of 2 piles - Yes or No. By the end of the summer, I had chosen the year's worth of music. Whatever was leftover was filed back in the music library. Suddenly, I had a new skill in my toolbox.

Every year, I do the same thing. Just not at home anymore. I go to school during the summer to read - it's task isolation. Out of 7 summers, the only adjustment I made was 2011. I was pregnant with Meg, she was due the last week of school - I knew reading music was out of the question. So, one of my projects before the school year ended was to choose the 2011-2012 music before Meg arrived. Knowing I would be a first time mom & learning a new level of life balance, music was chosen that I had taught before with a couple of openings for new music. Just in case, I got bored. Honestly, it was a relief to plan this way, but I was glad to get back to routine this summer.

After all of the music is chosen, I print it all up on a document for the year. The document includes all concerts, all choirs, Region Choir, Men's Concert, and ideas for the next year. I keep the document on my computer desktop for reference purposes. I keep every year's Music Selection document on file as reference.

This system works beautifully for me.

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