March 25, 2020
A performance of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" (arr. David Moore) by the Vandegrift High School Chorale Women (Michael Zook, conductor) at the 2019 ACDA National Conference in Kansas City, MO.

The question “How do we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Psalm 137) still haunts me. In the last few weeks, this is the very question we have asked ourselves over and over throughout the choral community and in a variety of ways as we wonder “how,” in a practical way, we are to sing anything in this newly found “strange land” caused by a worldwide pandemic, and “how,” in a spiritual way, can we sing anything in this time of despair and hopelessness. . . .

In his book Where Good Ideas Come From, innovation writer Steven Johnson cites the theory of “desirable difficulties” as an optimistic way to work toward innovation. Desirable difficulties are challenges to our thinking or to our work that would normally appear as obstacles to forward progress.

These disadvantages force an individual to adapt and be better prepared against future difficulties. Viewing such challenges as “desirable” is an optimistic view, knowing challenges only help to sharpen ideas and bolster the resolve to move ahead.

It is a beautiful way to approach the world—and ultimately, the only one suited for a time such as the one we are in now. To avoid difficulty would mean complete retreat, not only from social interaction, but from life. It would mean hiding in ignorance. Instead, we can embrace the moment we have and strive to welcome challenge. I choose to rejoice in the unexpected and work to turn despair into something new by owning it. I have found that tension is my wake-up call to new levels of learning and experience and growth.

The American Choral Directors Association strives to be your resource for meeting the challenges of this moment and a source of inspiration as you continue to pursue excellence in choral music education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

"From the Executive Director," Choral Journal (May 2020)

Online Learning
SmartMusic, a web-based suite of tools for singers and choir directors, is offering ACDA members free premium access through June 20, 2020 . With this platform, singers can work on sight-singing, technique, and performance repertoire, and choral conductors can assign anything from the repertoire library, as well as create, edit, and import their own music with the Compose notation tool.

Music Permissions & Copyrights
The music publishing industry is responding to the situation with new guidelines for this period:

" For me, the communal aspect of making music in the moment, a moment that can’t truly be replicated, is the essence of choral singing. For in that moment, our bodies are fully engaged in producing sounds, our ears are saturated with the beauty of the voices of those around us, we are safe and secure surrounded by our friends whom we love and who love us, and our hearts are filled with the deepest gratitude imaginable for the sheer grace of being alive to experience this profound moment in which heaven stoops to meet us and we are transported to a higher plane. . . .

For those who have spent a life time singing with others, we have been privileged to access such moments in performance and even more often in rehearsal. These times when all is right with the world and the cares of everyday life are suspended is what I am missing these days. . . .

I long for the day when choirs sing again, when congregations gather in to combine their humble voices with others, when burdens are shared with real pulsing bodies in close proximity to our own, when the mysterious act of singing together in congregation and choir is again normal. Furthermore, I am hopeful that when this day comes again, and I know it will, I, and you, will approach these experiences as the grace gift that they are and have always been."

Dr. Randall Bradley, Professor of Church Music, Baylor University

Do Cancelled Performances Have You Down?
ACDA is creating a Virtual Concert Hall and we need videos of your choir to include on this national stage! To submit your choir's performance, follow the instructions on this form and submit it with a YouTube link.

Virtual Choir
North Dakota ACDA is doing a virtual choir project for choral teachers and students. Take a look at their information and instructions and consider something similar.

Sing-alongs with Students
ACDA member and former Archivist Intern, Erica Haverly, is hosting Facebook Live "Songs and Sing-a-Longs with Ms. Haverly." She invites music makers of all ages to join in, but is gearing her session toward her elementary students. She even encourages song suggestions!

Do you have an idea you're trying out? Please share it with us to consider including in next week's email by replying to this message.

Current presenters and registrants should check their email for information about how the conference will proceed. A general announcement will follow, once details are finalized. We invite you to join in this upcoming event!

Membership Portal Maintenance
The ACDA membership portal will undergo scheduled upgrades and maintenance Apr. 1-15. Beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 31, through Apr. 15, you will be unable to log-in at and peform any membership transactions - join, renew, or update profile information. The system will come back online on Apr. 16! Thank you for your patience as we upgrade our system!

ACDA is seeks a chair for the Diversity Initiatives Committee, one of several national standing committees. All interested individuals are invited to submit a letter of application, including a vision statement and curriculum vitae, to Lynne Gackle, ACDA president, by May 1, 2020. More details

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, audition guidelines for performance at the 2021 Dallas conference will have the following changes:

  1. The due date for submission has been extended to May 10, 2020.
  2. Choirs that do not have recordings for the 2019-20 school year because of the pandemic may submit recordings from 2016-17 rather than 2019-20. All auditions must contain a recording from 2017-18 and one from 2018-19.
  3. No re-application for materials already submitted.

ACDA is hosting a webpage that is updated daily containing resources that are particularly useful for choral professionals: Resources for Choral Professionals During the Pandemic. Keep an eye on it, and please share with us any resources we should consider adding!
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