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Allied Organizations

Building Literacy Within the Choral Rehearsal

Jeanne Wohlgamuth
OCDA President
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As I sit down to write this message, the subtle arrival of spring is unmistakable, teasing us with occasional bursts of warmth amidst the lingering coolness, unstable weather, and the once-in-a-lifetime spectacle of a solar eclipse. As we navigate through the transitioning seasons, we look forward to the upcoming summer break—a time of renewal and rejuvenation. With the lengthening days ahead, we find ourselves with the perfect opportunity to recharge our batteries and invigorate our passion for choral music. Whether it's through enrolling in classes, attending conferences and workshops, or carefully selecting music for the upcoming year, let's seize this chance to grow, learn, and prepare for the musical journey that awaits in the coming year.
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Personally, I'm filled with excitement at the prospect of attending our state's OCDA Summer Conference.  This gathering promises an enriching experience filled with learning, networking, and inspiration for choral directors across Ohio and beyond. From insightful workshops to captivating performances, this conference offers a platform to delve deeper into our craft, connect with fellow directors, and explore new horizons in choral music. Each year, without fail, I leave the conference with fresh and challenging repertoire for my choirs, and after over 40 years of teaching, I still manage to discover new teaching techniques to enhance my rehearsals.
We are excited to welcome Dr. Derrick Fox, Dr. Julie Yu, Dr. Karen Miller, and Dr. Matthew Bester as our conference headliners.
Dr. Derrick Fox, conductor, author, and composer, is the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Creative Endeavors, and a Professor of Choral Conducting at Michigan State University. Dr. Fox will offer insight into our profession through sessions titled “Exploring Black Sacred Music,” “The Choir Director as the Voice Teacher,” “Refreshed and Renewed,” and “Protecting Your Passions: A Guide to Longevity in the Choral Classroom.”
Dr. Julie Yu is a name you may remember as the 2023 All-State Mixed Choir Conductor. I had the opportunity to attend some of her interest sessions and was impressed with her pedagogical ingenuity. We are excited to welcome her back to Ohio to share more of her inspiring ideas with us. Dr. Yu will present sessions titled “Planning and Executing the Choral Vacation,” “Engagement and Connection,” “Musicianship and Musicality as a Circular and Simultaneous Process,” “What is your tonal concept?”
Finally, we welcome a new face to Ohio, Dr. Karen Miller who comes highly recommended by some of our esteemed Ohio choir directors. Kelly A. Miller is an Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of Music Education at the University of Central Florida where she conducts the SoAl (Soprano/Alto) Chorus, SoAl Ensemble, TeBa (Tenor/Bass) Chorus, and the UCF Community Choir. While at UCF, she has taught a wide variety of courses including Introduction to Music Education, Secondary Choral Methods I and II, Music Learning Theory and Assessment, Beginning Conducting, Choral Conducting, Music and Students with Exceptionalities, and graduate classes in Music Education, while coordinating and supervising student teachers through their junior and senior clinical internships. Dr. Miller will present hands-on sessions titled “Inspiring Artistry and Ownership in YOUR Choir Students,” and “Tips from the On-stage Clinician: Connection, Context, and Choral/Vocal Technique.”
New to this year’s conference is the addition of an early music interest and reading session led by Ohio’s own Dr. Matthew Bester.  Dr. Bester is Director of Music at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Columbus, where he leads choirs of both adults and children. He is the Artistic  Director of Fior Angelico, a Columbus-based early music chorus that he founded in 2006.
In response to the growing demand for sessions tailored specifically to middle school choirs, we are thrilled to introduce a dedicated one-day track on Wednesday, June 26. This specialized track will cater to the unique needs of middle school choir directors and their students. Leading this track will be a team of seasoned clinicians, including Sarah Santilli, Kelsey Brukett, Valerie Buckley, and Laure Labbe. With their extensive experience in middle school choral education, these clinicians are poised to offer invaluable insights and strategies to enhance your teaching.
Attention elementary and high school choral directors! Don't miss out on the opportunity to showcase your talented singers in our Treble and High School Honor Choirs. Encourage your students to audition and register today! Follow the links below to nominate your Treble singers in grades 4-8 and submit auditions for your high school singers. Our distinguished guest conductors include Dr. Libby Hainrihar for the Treble Honor Choir and Jordan Saul for the High School Honor Choir.
Treble Honor Choir nominations are due by April 12, 2024

High School auditions are due by April 12, 2024

With an array of enriching sessions, captivating performances, and ample networking opportunities, the OCDA Summer Conference promises to be a transformative experience for all attendees. Whether you are just entering the profession or a seasoned director, this conference offers something for everyone. Join us as we come together to celebrate our love for choral music, exchange ideas, and grow together. Don't miss out on this chance to recharge your passion and take your choral program to new heights.

Mark your calendars and register today—see you there!
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