Fairfax Choral Society Blog

To Glee or Not to Glee

Being a high school choir director, I’m asked all the time: “Do you watch Glee?” I’ve been a hold out – I do not watch Glee. I usually make up the excuse that I do high school choir all day so why do I want to go home and watch it on TV? I generally follow up with “do doctors go home and watch ER?” (nevermind that ER’s been off the air for years – kinda like referencing WKRP in Cincinnati with my teenage students) In actuality, I love my life of choir. I love it so much that I leave one choir rehearsal just to rush off to another choir rehearsal across town. I really can’t get enough of it. And, I do watch TV about choirs whenever I can. I love the sound of people singing – real people making music. Genuine music. Music with mistakes, out of tune chords and random voices sticking out of the choir. I remember my father talking about a piano record that he listened to growing up where you can hear the pianist play a wrong note. I always thought that was cool – a real person at the other end of that recording. I love handmade pottery most when I can find a fingerprint in the clay. That’s art. Evidence of humans striving to create something that satisfies themselves and others. Perfection is not the goal. What is artistic perfection anyway? I avoided Glee because I was afraid of what I would find. Well, I gave in. I watched an episode. It was perfection, actually, in a way. Not a... read more

Choosing the Right Rep

The auditions are done, the season is set, folders are being assigned… but what to put in them? For the West Campus Pilot Choir, the very first FCS choir for auditioned 7-10 year olds in western Fairfax County, the task of choosing the right repertoire was a fun challenge for me. There are many starting places from which one could choose choral repertoire for young singers. Some conductors think in terms of a theme for the concert, some aim to create a diverse program of many styles or a program that will appeal to a specific audience, some prefer to choose music that will aid in building choral skills within their ensemble. While I consider all of these different areas at some point in my selection process, I’ve found that what first draws me to quality literature is its text. For me, great choral literature, no matter the genre or style, is anchored by a great text. Quality texts in choral music range from serious and contemplative to playful and deliciously clever. If the text of a piece comes across as “artificially flavored,” that is a deal breaker in my book. I try to choose a text that will sustain us through many rehearsals, offer a new or unique perspective on a subject, provoke thought, celebrate beauty and/or cultivate whimsy. Time is limited; why waste it on anything but the best? One of my mentors taught me to think of choosing repertoire that would be worthy of childhood memories – because for children, the songs they sing become the soundtracks of their childhood. Once a piece has passed my... read more

Children’s Choir

The new year of school begins an exciting time in the choral classroom. Singers get acquainted, or reacquainted with the director and each other, eagerness runs high, and excitement is in the air. As the bond between choir and director grows, so also does the opportunity for blend, balance, and cohesion in the choir. Often, it can be quite a shock to start the beginning of the year with the sounds of last year’s final concert in the director’s ears. Voices are “out of shape” from the summer, sticking out from the blend of the group, or not in tune. Training and shaping the choir is a continual process, new every fall. Working with children’s choirs can be one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching music. Fostering an environment where learning is possible, abilities are stretched, and community is grown is a delight, not to mention the pure joy of making music together! Some things I have found that add to the success of a children’s choir rehearsal are: Quality choral literature Pacing of lessons Variety in teaching strategies Good listening A very good accompanist (if one is used) Humor The Fairfax Choral Society works hard to determine the most effective strategies for growing young musicians. We are a collaborative group and work together to provide the best for generations of singers. – Caroline Crocker (Director, Lyric and Treble... read more
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