ACDA Minnesota Fall Convention-DFgreenspun.com : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread
I attended the fall convention for the American Choral Directors Association, Minnesota Annual Fall Convention, that was held on November 20-21, 1998, at Bethel College and Seminary in Arden Hills, MN. There were four main areas of presentation: Bob Chilcott, composer, Michael Hiatt, Minn. Grad Rule, Bob Peterson, Coda Music Technology, and Margaret Schmidt and Dr. Paula Becker presenting on the Mozart Effect in Music. Beside these informative sessions, the attendees were treated to hearing some of the best choral units in Minnesota. There were grade school, high school, college and adult choirs singing. What a treat! The programs and convention schedule included the titles of the music, the words, the publication companies and the order number for the work so the directors there would have the information necessary to order any of the works performed that interested them and would work for their choir. The ability of these choirs is awesome. I only wish that I would be able to have my choirs see and hear these units, because stage procedure, sound production, expression effects and various techniques can be refined through observation. The choirs were wonderful and the sessions very challengine, stimulating and interesting. It was a great conference and I am so pleased that I attended.
Bob Chilcott is an English composer. He has been involved in choral singing all of his life, being a choral scholar at King's College, Cambridge, a member of the famed King's Singers, arranger for the King's Singers and also studied composition and sang at the Royal College of Music in London. He has travelled the world over and been commissioned to write for choirs, festivals, special events and a movie. He writes for all levels of choral age brackets and abilities. He said something very interesting, that in Europe the tradition is still to have all male or predominately male choral units. If he writes treble clef music, the European opinion of it is that the music must be for children. In the United States, the woman's choir is so popular and wants to have quality music written for them. They want music that does not sound like it was written for children. Therefore, he says that he enjoys the challenge of writing adult treble music in the United States.
Mike Hiatt reviewed the Minnesota Graduation Standards. It was basically a question, answer and discussion session. He also had some handouts from the State department.
Bob Peterson showed us the new "Vivace" system and how we could use it in the choral setting. The company has recorded many accompaniments on the disks to allign with most choral and instrumental literature used in school settings. By using a computer with a sound card, head microphone and the disk, a student can practice or perform with the system and the accompaniment is programmed to follow them.
Margaret Schmidt, a professor of music at St. Cloud State University, reported on some of the writings and findings on the Mozart effect. She said that findings are that the entire brain is active, the left, logical side and the right, creative side, when involved in music. Since music stimultates the whole brain, those studying this believe that when babies are born music stimulates the neurons in the brain, from the electonic sending unit to the axion, sending pathway, and helps them to connect. So, the experience develops pathways or governs the pathways of the neuron path. She believes that parents and educators need to provide experiences for childen that strengthen useful habits, stimulate the brain and aid the natural circuits. The brain is inherently curious and collaborative and the brain wants to make meaning out of what it is hearing, seeing and learning. Learning is influenced by emotion and inorder to learn, we need to feel safe and yet be challenged in a secure way. Thus, learning to organized, calm music, such as Mozart, is being studied and a relationship to better retention is being found, but the studies are not yet conclusive. Studies have shown that regular practice and lessons on an instument do improve test scores, creativity and fine motor skills. She ended with giving us some names, data and material to do further research and reading.
Dr. Paula Becker is a licensed psychologist and deals with communication, stress management, personal healing, forgiveness, self-esteem and the creative arts. Her mission is to bring healing to the body, mind and spirit. She believes that music impacts movement, heart rate, stress and chemical levels. Her first degree was in elementary music, so she uses music, but also other creative arts, in her study and work. She said that in New York City, student achievement was studied when their class was moved to be located close to the subway with its constant drone. The student's achievement dropped 11 months behind other students. So the subway drone affected their learning. Dr. Becker told of a study done in 1930 on the ear by Alfred Tumatis. Tumatis began working with a fetus and found that the fetus ear connected with a voice and he said that "The body can't produce what it does not hear." Sounds stimulate the brain. Then, the sounds kids inflict on themselves may prevent them from learning. The ear and the brain is always trying to sort, organize sounds. If the sounds are organized, then the brain does not spend energy on sorting the sounds, but is able to accept and learn information. The ear involves the mind, vocal chords, spine, neck, lungs, diaphram and digestive system. But also, inorder for the ear to work, which is so necessary in singing, there must be deep breathing and good posture. Dr, Becker related a story from Tumatis who was asked to help a monestery. The monestery decided to cut out chanting. Over a period of time, the health of the monks deterioated and they were depressed. The monks changed their diet, activities, schedule and nothing helped. When Tumatis was called in, he told them very simply that they needed to reemploy the chanting, and conditions at the monestery improved. They needed the chant. Dr. Becker did some chanting with us, which she believes relieves stress. A sigh, yawn and a groan will relax. She had us do several drones on vowels,with our eyes closed and picturing a peaceful, beautiful scene. The drones were a hum on a low tone, long "e", ah, long "i", glissandos, and some consonant sounds. We were asked to feel what parts of our body the sounds stimulated, if any tension was relieved and if we could feel a spirit. Dr. Becker believes that music has and can be used to know the emotional needs of someone. "The voice is the mirror to the soul.", Dr. Becker.
-- Anonymous, January 22, 1999