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A QUICK LINK TO A BLOG BY Frans Waltmans, choral blogger from the Netherlands, whose site contains a number of links to choral ensembles and composers.

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MY MUSIC THEORY STUDENTS often ask me when learning about chords: “Do professional musicians always think about chords this way in terms of Roman numerals?” My response is yes, either explicitly or implicitly — that is, they either think of the chord relationships in formal terms, or they have come up with their own way of understanding how the chords interact with each other.  Here’s Donald Fagen giving some detailed insight on the underlying music theory of Steely Dan’s Peg.

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IS YOUR COLLEGE GOING OUT OF BUSINESS?  Gosh, I hope not.  But this post by Mark Cuban is a great primer on the challenges of the traditional four-year college model and how that is being upended by the digital revolution: “Before you go to college, or send your child to a four-year school you better check their balance sheet. How much debt does the school have? How many administrators making more than $200,000 do they have? How much are they spending on building new buildings — none of which add value to your child’s education, but as enrollments decline will force the school to increase their tuition and nail you with other costs. They just create a debtor university that risks going out of business.

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LEARNING FROM ERIC ERICSON.  Richard Sparks has a good post on those who are not familiar with him, including a link with Ericson’s opinion of using the piano in rehearsal: “I often see young conductors continue to play or let the accompanist play when it’s no longer necessary. The basic rule should be to take away the keyboard as quickly as possible. When teaching or observing young conductors I often have to remind them: take the piano away!”  There’s also a link to an interview here.

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WORSHIP WARS IN CHURCH: David Lamb writes this article discussing a common conflict in many church congregations: . “A few well-meaning but misguided folks think they know what everyone will or should like. Their opinion is that whatever is modern/new is far better than the old, outdated stuff with its soaring descants, beautiful choral anthems from oratorios and cantatas, and memorable hymns that have offered inspiration and comfort for centuries.”  While he clearly states his preference for a traditional style of singing and musical settings, he emphasizes the need for flexibility of choral directors to be aware of their congregation’s needs.  There’s more discussion on the subject here.  I find it fascinating that 400 years after Claudio Monteverdi reused the popular music of his own creation (compare his 1607 l’Orfeo introduction with his 1610 Vespers), we’re still having that discussion about modern music in church and whether it is appropriate.

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MARIE GRASS AMENTA ON CHORAL ETHICS:

Physicians take an oath—the Hippocratic Oath–as they graduate from medical school and are awarded their M.D.s. They swear to ‘do no harm.’  I wonder if we should be required to do the same.  We must do no harm to our singers, both physically and emotionally, by using our knowledge of the human voice to prevent injury and by not emotionally abusing them by our behavior inside rehearsals and out.  We must do no harm to our colleagues by not bad mouthing or undermining them in public to singers or audience members or the community at large. We must do no harm to our profession as a whole by upholding ourselves to as high a musical standard as possible within our scope of expertise and by respecting the rights of the composers we perform.

These are some good general ideas.  While we are all aware of the obvious ethical lapses, these smaller infractions also have a price.