Chora Link - April 2020
In this issue: Inspiring others through adversity, Hospice singing, Jeanne Kelly on working with older singers,
advertise your virtual event for no cost.
Peggy Dettwiler,

ACDA Eastern Region President
Dear ACDA Eastern Region choral colleagues, 

It is difficult to know what to write when we are all struggling with cancelled rehearsals, performances, festivals, and conferences during this COVID-19 crisis. One should start, simply, by wishing you good health in body, mind, and spirit.

Recently, the National Collegiate Choral Organization, through the leadership of Dominick DiOrio, hosted a Webinar entitled “ Onward, We Lead : Inspiring our singers, students, and staff through adversity.”

The Panel consisted of:
  • Karen Brunssen, President, National Association of Teachers of Singing
  • Catherine Dehoney, President & CEO, Chorus America
  • Eileen M. Hayes, President, College Music Society
  • Tim Sharp, Executive Director, American Choral Directors Association

I share here some memorable points from the conversation.

Zoom fatigue is real, and, in working online, we might question whether our assignments are valuable in content or simply busywork. We should, however, not allow ourselves to feel guilty. We are doing our best! There is no question that we, along with our singers, have lost our usual routine. It is difficult to sing when under duress. Simply providing a “social” network, while we are “physically distancing” is valuable. We are learning what we can do online and affirming what we cannot do. Virtual choirs will NEVER replace the learning and joy that takes place in community music-making!

In keeping with the theme, “Open Ears – Open Hearts” that was highlighted during the March ACDA conference, and the importance of music in the health of body, mind, and spirit, I offer some information about two presentations given in Rochester.

Hospice Singing: The Spirit of the Movement

Peter and Mary Alice Amidon , founder and co-music director of Hallowell
Trey Pratt, former Music Director of JourneySongs

Hallowell is a chorus of volunteer singers trained to practice the therapeutic art of singing for the dying. Based in Brattleboro Vermont, they serve hospice clients through their affiliation with Brattleboro Area Hospice and the greater community by request. Their songs and quiet presence bring comfort and offer support to the dying. The response of those they sing for is often emotional and calming. Music can open hearts, quiet fears and touch all who are present, including family members and friends, caregivers and singers.

JourneySongs is an interfaith hospice choir based in Newton, Massachusetts. Committed to singing at bedside for the comfort of people on their final journey, they sing in private homes, local nursing homes, hospitals and hospice facilities for the terminally ill, those with serious illness, and for caregivers and loved ones. JourneySongs also has a commitment to sing at local memorial services. The group believes in the healing power of music and the importance of community presence during life’s transitions.

Singers 55+ Can Sound Fabulous    
Encore Creativity for Older Adults  

Jeanne Kelly , Founder, Artistic Director
With over 1,300 singers over the age of 55 in 22 choral groups across the Baltimore/Washington region, as well as New York City, Encore is the nation’s largest choral organization for older adults.  Encore has three major programs: 

Encore Chorale features traditional choral repertoire, such as Classical, American Songbook, and Broadway, etc.  

Encore ROCKS singers perform Rock & Roll music from the fifties to present day.  

Sentimental Journey Singers is a choral program for adults with early stage Alzheimer’s or other memory impairment.  

Encore also has affiliate chorales in California, Colorado, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Photo Credit: David J. Luria Photography
Jeanne Kelly offers important suggestions when working with older adults:

1.  Don't under-estimate your older singers. Challenge them to the max. 
Push them to do their very best.

2.  Constantly ask your older adult singers if they are under-singing. 
They will always under-sing rather than over-sing.

3.  Remind them about good posture regularly during a rehearsal. 
They will tend to collapse in the middle area and this does not allow the diaphragm to work. It also invites the head to move forward,
thus tightening the jaw, chin, and cutting off breath.

4.  Constantly remind them to work for better diction, using
the tip of their tongue, lips and teeth. 
A lot of older adults live alone, and they do not speak
or probably smile a lot.
They stop articulating. This invites the soft palate to sag.
Less projection occurs.
Sadly, most think this is what happens as people age.
 It can be fixed.

5.  Choose music that will challenge and excite them. 
Choose music that sounds more complex than it really is. 

6.  Do a lot of breathing exercises. Pulmonologists report
that deep breathing, which is essential to good and easy singing,
is the best thing anyone can do for their lungs.

Encore programs are open to all without audition. Singers pay tuition for two fifteen-week semesters of rehearsals followed by concerts that are free and open to the public.  Encore typically presents over thirty concerts per year in high profile venues, most notably the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, where every December 26 th , Encore presents over 500 singers on stage before a full house, also free.

Encore singers may also participate in an annual international concert tour, as well as any of four “summer camps,” at various locations across the summer. A highlight of this summer will be a Rock & Roll Camp in Cleveland with a performance at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
In closing, thank you for your efforts to keep music in the hearts and minds of your singers through remote learning: university and school choral directors, voice teachers, church musicians, community choral conductors, and those working in music academies. We all have probably learned more about the value of Zoom, Facebook, Youtube, etc., to promote already recorded concerts and encourage the desire to gather together for live concerts in the future! 

Every good wish to you all as you navigate through these challenging days,

Peggy Dettwiler

Send the information to
 and it will be featured in an appropriate upcoming issue of ChoraLink - no charge. Photos and links are welcome.
Don't forget - you can still obtain recordings from the 2020 Conference by going to SOUNDWAVES.ORG - Search for "ACDA Eastern 2020"

At the conference, ACDA East celebrated the lives of colleagues who passed away in the last three years. It is available for viewing using the link below:

Spring/Summer Calendar for Eastern Region
CONNECTICUT - Spring Conference, May 30, 2020. POSTPONED TO MAY 2021

Summer Conference, August 22, 2020. TENTATIVE

DELAWARE - Delaware Choral Festival. CANCELED.

Music in Worship Choral Festival. CANCELED.

Children's Honor Choir. POSTPONED

Choral Festival at the Beach. POSTPONED TO JUNE 2021

MAINE - Elementary and Middle School All-State Honor Choirs - CANCELED.

MARYLAND/DC - Voices United Conference, August 1-3, 2020. George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. - ONLINE CONFERENCE - No in-person attendance.

MASSACHUSETTS - Summer Conference , July 12-15, 2020. Smith College, Northampton, MA TBD

NEW JERSEY - High School Choral Festival, May 19-22, 2020. CANCELED.

Summer Conference , July 27-28, 2020. CANCELED.

NEW YORK - Summer Conference , August 15-18, 2020. CANCELED.

PENNSYLVANIA - Summer Conference, August 2-4, 2020. Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, PA. TBD

NEW HAMPSHIRE - Unity 2020- Celebration of Love and Joy with Andre Thomas, April 24, 25, 2020 - University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH CANCELED

VERMONT - Choral Conducting Symposium. CANCELED

Children's Honor Choir Festival - May 1-2, 2020. CANCELED

Summer Conference, June 2021 - Burlington, VT

State Chapter Links