My foremost objective is to help prepare students for a life beyond college: A life that is productive and contributes to the betterment of society: A life that provides personal satisfaction and fulfillment: A life wherein the student thinks autonomously and forms considered opinions based on observation and thoughtful analysis.

Music Majors
Music schools and conservatories must graduate professionals who are well-skilled in rudiments such as sight reading and aural comprehension in addition to their skills in instrumental and vocal performance. Students will be successful when they sight read fluently and act like professional musicians. Graduates who practice professionalism in school and master the tasks of professionals are most likely to succeed. This success comes down to practical and quantifiable skills.

  1. Objective: Excellence in sight reading
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       Having worked for nearly ten years in New York, and having hired dozens of professional singers, I have a keen awareness of what is required to succeed as a professional singer. The vast majority of vocal graduates will initially earn their living by performing gigs in churches and choruses. It is how every aspiring opera singer and Broadway star builds a resume. As such, in order for a singer to be rehired by any conductor, that singer must be able to read most choral literature at sight.
       In addition to designated sight reading classes, this critical skill can be reinforced in choral rehearsals by regularly subjecting the choir to reading novel literature of every historical period. Rhythm flexibility can be strengthened in vocal warm ups and exercises as can the use of mixed meters. In short, the rehearsal is an ideal environment to help students improve their musicianship skills.

  2. Objective: Distinguishing between various performance styles
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       In today’s market, there are plentiful opportunities for performers and singers who are aware of the various performance styles practiced in different historical periods and geographical locales. Hence, singers who can use their voices in a variety of ways—with and without vibrato, for instance, or learning how to ornament Baroque and Classical arias—are more likely to be employed. Since our goal is to enable our graduates to earn income in their chosen field, we do them a great service by exposing them to as many performance styles and methods as possible.

       Selecting a wide range of repertoire, from every historical period and place, gives the students an opportunity to learn how to perform different styles in a forgiving environment. It is important, however, for choral conductors to work closely with voice faculty—to teach singers how to sing straight tone or minimal vibrato in a healthful manner. No one wants students to leave school with vocal problems. Professional singers work everyday in performances that require straight tone; there is certainly a healthy way to produce it. Our job is to teach them how.
  • Objective: Identify formal structures and compositional techniques

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       One of the most important components of aural training is to be able to hear cadences and formal structure. These goals can be incorporated into a rehearsal by posing well-timed questions regarding how the work is constructed, how extreme chromaticism may highlight textual references or when a recapitulation occurs, among other things.
       These and other facets of musical components, as well as performance elements, can be discussed during rehearsal. I’m not suggesting we turn rehearsals into music history classes; rather, I propose that musical understanding be taught along with the notes. That the conductor identify form, the use of modulations and chromaticism, and how articulation in one piece differs from articulation in another.

  • Objective: Enhance the vocal and choral program
       These suggestions are not meant to be implemented in a vacuum—exercises for their own sake; rather, the equally important goal is to enhance the school’s vocal and choral programs. Excellent sight readers will only improve rehearsals; students who can differentiate between historical styles will bring a richness to performances that otherwise would be lacking. Finally, to create multiple vocal sonorities in a healthful manner is an important and worthy undertaking—one that will give graduates a considerable head start in their career development.
       We must always remember that the primary purpose of choral rehearsals is to prepare choral literature; still, let us not forego an excellent opportunity to reinforce what students are being taught in music history, sight-singing and aural skills. This is team teaching in its most useful form: colleagues working together to prepare and graduate students who have a reasonable chance to succeed while practicing in their professional lives what they were taught in school. Let’s help them earn an income as a musician. What better gift can we give them?

    Non-Majors
    Students who are not majors and who do not envision music as a profession must be challenged to fulfill their individual potential; they must be encouraged to devote as much of their time and energy to musical pursuits as is feasible. With them, a teacher’s main responsibility is to heighten their enjoyment of musical studies; to cultivate in them an appreciation of all types of music so that they will see that music remains an integral component of world culture.

    Community Members
    Community-based bands and choruses provide members with the potential for camaraderie and musical pleasure; they also generate tremendous goodwill for the hosting organization. Moreover, these non-professional music lovers provide a model for non-majors, a life wherein music can be enjoyed and performed without the burdens and stresses that professional musicians must endure. Such organizations draw wide and varied audiences and remind listeners how much satisfaction can be had from attending concerts—particularly those performed by friends and family.

  • ©2017 David Friddle   |   vCard