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CHORALNET has a roundup of their best posts of 2013.  If you haven’t been there regularly, I recommend their article on auditions.

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NELSON MANDELA’S IMPACT ON CHORAL MUSIC:

The sense of progress for all humanity was palpable, and the power of song to express this was not lost on the choral community.  Leonard Bernstein, another role model of mine in arts activism, led an East-West rendition of Beethoven’s ODE TO JOY in Berlin when the wall came down, changing the word “Freude” to “Freiheit,” turning the song into an ODE TO FREEDOM.  Conductors were looking for material for their choirs to perform to join this celebration.  Many brought out songs from the Civil Rights movement in the U.S.  Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo published an arrangement of the African National Anthem, N’kosi Sikelel’i Afrika, with assistance from Nick Page for World Music Press.  Then out of Sweden came Anders Nyberg’s faithful arrangements in FREEDOM IS COMING: Songs of Protest and Praise from South Africa, published by Walton.

I remember learning “Freedom is coming” and “Siyahamba” in the early 90s and they were enormously popular.  This really sparked interested in African music from all parts of the continent.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF HARD WORK:  “The reason most aspiring creatives fail, these numbers instead hint, is not due to an ‘internal foe’ but because five hours of daily deep work is absurdly difficult!”

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CHORAL NET has a quick summary of this article on getting better rehearsal strategies.  Many of them are simple but some great things to keep in mind:  “[S]top singers and say what you want in seven words or less. Correction followed by immediate practice doesn’t (usually) allow the singers time to forget what you have suggested.”  It also keeps them singing in rehearsal instead of hearing you yammer on.

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SAGE ADVICE FROM Esa-Pekka Salonen on what it takes to be a great conductor.  Some of his thoughts are predictable, but here’s the key bit for musicians:

You have to train as a conductor to be one. Get into one of the conducting classes at a college or a music academy. Even before you do that, the best education for someone who wants to become a conductor is to sit in rehearsals. That’s where you learn.

A concert is just a concert, that is when we deliver what we achieved in rehearsals. To know how to get to that point you have to witness the process.

I think he’s right.  Sitting in on rehearsals is invaluable because you start to develop an ear for what needs to be fixed and how to best fix it.

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RANDY PAUSCH: Complaining Does Not Work as a Strategy.  Inspiring words from his last lecture: “If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out… Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”

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MORE ON RECORDING YOUR choir with your iPad.  I think it can work great for informal situations in choir rehearsals and perhaps for class presentations or brief messages that you want to upload for your class to hear.  Previous link here.