At the Bulletproof Musician, Dr. Noa Kageyama has a great post on How many hours a day you should practice. I like this bit: “Deliberate practice is a systematic and highly structured activity, which is, for lack of a better word, scientific. Instead of mindless trial and error, it is an active and thoughtful process of experimentation with clear goals and hypotheses.” Sometimes our singers (and we ourselves at times) look at rehearsal as a mindless activity. It is crucial as conductors that we cultivate active learning and listening in rehearsal at all times. That will make our singers achieve their best as musicians.
Community College enrollment is at a 20-year low in California: “The report found that between 2008-09 and 2011-12, overall participation rates — students per 1,000 state residents age 15 or over — declined by 21% to levels not seen since the early 1990s.”
Music and dance are among the hardest hit, of course. This is coming as the Higher Education Bubble is starting to burst and people are starting to rethink the expensive four-year college education.
An article in GQ about singing in the church choir.
Pension problems in California: “a new report says the fund needs an additional $4.5 billion every year — more than Sacramento spends on both university systems combined — to stay above water.” This is why I prefer a defined contribution plan (like a 401k or 403b) over a defined benefit plan (pension system). You know the money’s there waiting for you when you retire.
Henry Leck is retiring from Butler University this year, though he will continue at the Indianapolis Children’s Choirs. He has had a distinguished career there, certainly.
So, more on the conference after I have had some time to reflect. I’ll go through it by category.
Dallas was a great city to have this National Conference for a number of reasons. First, nearly everything was downtown, which meant not too much walking, no shuttle buses to catch, and you felt like you could see a lot of people and chat with them. The food situation was not ideal, but I thought they clearly tried hard with all the food trucks. The Meyerson Symphony hall was a great acoustic for singing and far superior to the Winspear Opera House (plus the Meyerson’s lights looked like the Millenium Falcon above the stage). I know several people who jumped tracks just to avoid hearing a certain choir playing in the Winspear. The worst problem happened with the scheduling of the Honor Choir concerts. Because they were so far away and spread out, there was no way I could attend them. That was a real problem.
We got to hear a number of fantastic choirs this past week. The groups that people were talking about most were the Philippine Madrigal Singers, the Pacific Lutheran Choir of the West, the Cal State Fullerton University Singers, the Crystal Children’s Choir, the University of Delaware Chorale, and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir’s High School choir. I was on the Blue Track and got to hear almost all of the performances. As for composers, the big “winner” was Ēriks Ešenvalds, who had several compositions performed and all to great acclaim. The keynote concert was the Britten War Requiem, which was also very moving. The Dallas Symphony Chorus sounded very good
Interest Sessions/Reading Sessions
I thought these were generally good. Highlights included my good friend and colleague, Cristian Grases, speaking about Latin American percussion, Coreen Duffy’s seminar (another friend) on Music for worship by Jewish composers, and a fascinating roundtable of composers including Abbie Betinis and Joan Szymko. One aspect of that discussion I enjoyed was that of Project Encore, a database featuring works that have been premiered but never performed again. I have always thought that there is a need to give many works a second chance, as there are a lot of them that never see the light of day after the premiere. The reading sessions all went fine. I really like that the publishers had their own reading sessions as well, which meant a lot of free music!
Instead of being in a hotel ballroom, the booths were in the Meyerson Hall and Opera House lobby. This was great because they were nearby, but the upstairs and downstairs locations of some of the booths meant that many didn’t see as much traffic as others. There were a lot of freebies, though, and many booths seemed to get a good deal of traffic eventually.
So good marks overall, and the weather was absolutely perfect. It’s got me looking ahead to Salt Lake City in two years.