May 6, 2020

A Conversation: What Do Science and Data Say About the Near-Term Future of Singing?

"Seek clarity, not certainty." - Overheard by Mollie Quinlan-Hayes

"Be patient. The time will come again to meet together. . . . Use this time to strengthen your organizations and the community within your organization." - Dr. Lucinda Halstead

"Make sure your arts organization is at the table when plans for reopening are being made." - Allen Henderson

These phrases stood out in a wide-ranging conversation yesterday, co-hosted by ACDA, NATS, Chorus America, Barbershop Harmony Society, and the Performing Arts Medicine Association.

As ACDA Executive Director Tim Sharp summed up, "We are in a state of shock right now, and are, perhaps, a little depressed seeing all that we can't do. We have to turn next to focus on what we can do. We're going to enter a period in the next months that will be a discovery period."

Below is an unedited recording of the webinar (the program starts at about 6 mins., 10 secs.). Stay tuned for an edited version of the recording, as well as additional ways ACDA will be sharing the information.

Plans for follow-up webinars (on platforms with greater attendee capabilities) are in the works!

Nineteen years ago I was in a terrible car accident that resulted in me losing my right arm; I was right handed. For an aspiring conductor who was in his second semester at Louisiana State University, working on his D.M.A., this could certainly have meant the end of a career and profession that fueled every fiber of my soul. But it didn’t.

Music and teaching were so important to me that I quickly decided that I would adapt, modify, and do whatever I needed to do in order to flourish, to remain relevant. Some approaches changed completely; some needed moderate modifications; some, just a small tweak. What did not change, what grew beyond my expectations, was my determination to be a better musician and a better person than before.

What we do now in music and music education with our school, church, and community choirs will be remembered and will matter. I plan to be on the side of innovation and creativity. I plan to be safe, smart, and informed. I plan to keep singing and teaching with more vigor than ever before.

Hours after I woke-up in the hospital from the surgical amputation, there, sitting at my bedside, was Kenneth Fulton. He said to me, “Gary, the music was never here,” gesturing to my newly amputated arm. “The music is here (gesturing to my heart).
I had to ask myself, “so what are you going to do about this?”

This is the question we all need to ask ourselves.

I love this profession and I LOVE the students that I teach, and I plan to show them just how much! So, mourn if you must, be angry, allow whatever you are feeling to surface. But when you are done with all of that, what are you going to do about it?

Dr. Gary Packwood, Director of Choral Activities, Mississippi State University & President of ACDA's Southern Region

As we were reminded last night, choral voices need to be at the table when plans for relief and for reopening are being discussed and decided.

Cognizant of that, ACDA is ramping up our advocacy work and support, and as part of that, has signed on to a statement ( "The Arts Sector and COVID-19 Relief") calling on Congress and the Administration to support the arts sector as part of our country's economy. Read the full statement here .

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 . New additions:

  • Oxford University Press is offering some free resources: Oxford Solo Songs: Sacred (volumes 1 and 2) and three editions of Voiceworks. (Look under "Content and Activity Ideas for Educators.")
  • Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 6 is open for submissions, with a new piece composed especially for this choir - "Sing Gently." Submissions are being accepted through May 22. (Look under Virtual and Online Choirs & Singing.)

What is the funniest or most uplifting thing you've come across during this quarantine? Please reply to this email with something to share with your fellow choral professionals who, like you, are temporarily stuck inside with no choirs to conduct.
The Young People's Chorus of New York City (Francisco J. Nunez, conductor) performing Johannes Brahms's "Ave Maria" during ACDA's 2011 national conference in Chicago, Illinois.

Were your spring concerts cancelled? We are adding choirs to ACDA's Virtual Concert Halls daily. Have you submitted your choir yet? To do so, follow the instructions on this form and submit it with a YouTube link. While you're there, enjoy the wonderful playlists!
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