SCVA Newsletter (on-line version) – April 2008


Using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) With Your High School Choir
Tammi Alderman, VP II- High School Honor Choir

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a system of phonetic notation based on the Latin alphabet, devised by the International Phonetic Association as a standardized representation of the sounds of spoken language.

In college diction classes I learned a great deal about how to pronounce Latin, Italian, French, German and Spanish using IPA. Knowing how to correctly enunciate the text of a piece, especially one in a language not your own is of vital importance. Often a mispronounced word can change the meaning of the text entirely.

I recently started using IPA in my high school classes. By teaching my students basic IPA, and using it consistently, I am assured that we will all be singing the same words, hopefully correctly and the students are learning a skill that will help them a great deal in future choirs. I have found in a short time that the results are well worth the time it takes me.

Below are some quick and easy steps to start using IPA in your choral classroom.

1. Visit the International Phonetic Association website. They have a chart of all sounds, sound recordings and fonts if you choose to type the pronunciations for your students.

2. Choose one piece for each of your choirs for the next concert to begin.  Latin or Italian will be easiest for you as well as them. 

3. Write out the text to your chosen piece, leaving ample room between lines. Below each line of regular text, write out the IPA pronunciation.  Many songs are repetitive and you do not need to write out text that repeats.

4. Copy the text/IPA sheets for all of your students. As you pronounce the text for them, have them follow along with the IPA (not the regular text). Have them repeat it back to you. Eventually they will be able to read basic IPA without your help. 

5. Put up basic IPA vowel and consonant posters in your classroom.  Make them yourself or purchase them. I got my set from

A small amount of time in the beginning will equal huge returns for you and your choirs. My students no longer ask me how to pronounce Latin, Italian or German. We are still working on other languages, but we now spend more time on the meaning of our words rather than how to say them.


2008 High School Honor Choirs Are Just Around the Corner!
Rodger Guerrero   VP - High School Honor Choirs

Looking forward…
We’ve reached the homestretch of our school year, and most of us are probably in the final stages of preparing for festivals, tours, or spring musicals.  Others are looking towards their Spring Concerts, perhaps already considering what their musical lives might be like next year without those dedicated, talented, experienced, but graduating seniors.  Still others are likely pondering over potential summer activities, choral and not.  With all of our minds filled with tasks to be completed and music to be learned and perfected, it probably seems crazy to think about next year.  Yet, insane as it may be, plans for the 2008 SCVA High School Honor Choirs have been in the works since January!  Honestly, it takes months to set up all of the details in order to foster a phenomenal experience for the singers.  Thus, the following specifics are already fairly certain:

1. Santa Monica H.S will again host the Honor Choirs weekend, and the dates will almost certainly be November 14-15.
2. Auditions will occur the last Saturday in September (27th) and the first Saturday of October (4th) as they have for quite some time.
3. All applications will be accepted online, and the deadline will, as always, occur two weeks prior to the first weekend of auditions (Friday, September 13th).
4. More audition sites are needed, particularly in the Inland Empire, so that students can more easily access them.  To that end, and with the desire for greater participation from Inland Empire high schools in mind, I have proposed to the SCVA Board that the First Rehearsal (October 25) be scheduled for a Riverside/San Bernardino area school (site TBD, but I am accepting volunteers!).
5. Desiree La Vertu from Cal Tech has graciously agreed to conduct the 2008 SCVA Women’s Honor Choir!  I am currently negotiating with two other, similarly high profile collegiate conductors to work with the Men’s and Mixed Choirs.  While I could not divulge their names at press time, suffice it to say that your students who make the choirs will absolutely love singing for them!
6. The scoring system for next year’s auditions will be exactly the same as this year’s.  It is the second of a two-year experiment, undertaken will the full cooperation of both SCVA and ACDA.  A review of the system will take place after the 2008 Regional Honor Choirs, and recommendations for further alterations may be made by both participating organizations in the spring of 2009.
7. All 2008 Honor Choirs members will be able to download mp3 files of their parts online.  The parts will be available individually and with piano and/or full-choir accompaniment.  Any student who cannot download files will still be able to request a rehearsal CD.
8. A proposal was made to the SCVA Board to lower audition and participation fees for 2008.  The lower costs will hopefully create a greater amount of accessibility to the choirs for a wider range of students.  A decision from the Board is forthcoming.

Looking backwards…
As I wrote in the last SCVA Newsletter, “nothing in life is perfect, and the Honor Choirs are no exception to this rule.”  In order to facilitate input from SCVA members, and thanks to Mark Freedkin’s expertise, an Honor Choirs Survey was posted online.  While I sincerely appreciated the responses from those who completed the survey, less than 25% of participating directors responded.  The response was too small in order to gauge the general sentiment of SCVA members.  The link: has been reopened in order to continue the process.  Please respond by April 15.  I have included a copy of the survey for those who are uncomfortable with online technology.  Simply mail it to me at my school address as listed below.  I honestly, deeply care about the Honor Choirs and all of the students who participate.  Please take a moment to help SCVA make the Honor Choir experience a better one for your students by filling out the survey today!


SHOW CHOIR SPECTACULAR - Patty Brietag  VP – Show Choirs
The website “wikipedia” says that a show choir is a group of people who combine choral singing with dance movements, sometimes within the context of a specific idea or story. Show Choir is indeed a choir that adds dance to enhance the text and mood of a song. Students need to experience all facets of choral music to broaden their singing experience. This last weekend, I had the privilege of attending the All State High School Choir concert at CMEA in Sacramento. I was proud of the four students that represented Diamond Bar High School where I teach. This experience will be one that will be remembered fondly for the rest of their lives. Many of the students from Southern California that were part of All State Choir are members of choir programs that teach classical music, have jazz choirs, have strong musical theatre programs and also have show choir. We should never limit the scope of opportunities for our students. If you have never considered adding show choir to your curriculum, we invite you to attend our Show Choir Spectacular competition at El Monte High School on May 3rd and get into the spirit and excitement of show choir in Southern California.

Each part of the country seems to have a different concept of what show choir is supposed to be. In North Kansas City, Missouri where I worked before moving to California in 1994, we had two show choirs. The beginning group met before school every day and was designed to introduce the show choir concept to younger students, prepare a program and then perform for various scheduled events. The advanced group was a class but each member was required to be a member of the A Cappella Choir as well. The purpose of the group was to prepare a varied repertoire to be performed at various functions for fund-raising purposes. This group occasionally toured to New York and other exciting cities and every once in a while they would travel to Iowa or Illinois to compete against other high school show choirs. The students that were involved in this program sang legitimate music throughout the year, participated in the All-District, All State Choirs and Competitions, participated in classical solo competitions, sang a varied list of choir literature and experienced a well-rounded music education.

During the southern California competition season, eleven high schools host adjudicated competitions in the southern California area. Fullerton College and Riverside Community College have hosted competitions as well. Many of the southern California high school show choirs participate in National Competitions held in cities like, Honolulu, Chicago, Branson, Mo., and Fort Lauderdale to mention only a few. Los Alamitos High School is traveling to Beijing, China to participate in a show choir competition this month! Travel opportunities are numerous and add incentives to prospective new choir members in our programs.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite all choir directors and students to attend some of the remaining competitions in our area in the next two months. Tickets can be purchased through the individual schools that are hosting these events. Following is a short list of up-coming competitions:

March 21, Arcadia hosts a competition at San Gabriel Civic Auditorium
April 12, Burroughs High School of Burbank will be hosting several divisions
April 18, Disneyland hosts it’s “5,6,7,8” show choir competition
April 19, Chula Vista High School in Chula Vista CA. will be hosting their annual competition

Having a Show Choir requires a huge time commitment from teachers. Many hours can be spent selecting music, finding a choreographer and hiring musicians to accompany the groups. After school rehearsals and many weekends are spent with students from January to May. But the experiences and competitive spirit that the students enjoy help to build teamwork skills, to develop choral skills, to add another dimension to the choral experience and to create lifetime friendships.

As of March 14, 2008 we have close to 30 groups registered in eight divisions for the SCVA sponsored Show Choir Spectacular. Intermediate Mixed and Intermediate Women are now closed, along with Novice Mixed.

As the date draws nearer, show orders will be finalized and ticket orders will be sent out to all participating schools. We are looking forward to another Spectacular show choir event and hope that you will join us!


Vocal Solo Competition, Colleen Kennedy, VP/Vocal Solo Competition
It was back to basics at the final round of this year’s vocal solo competition. Adjudicators Victoria Lavan (American Music & Dramatic Academy, Los Angeles) and Mark Goodrich (California State University, Los Angeles) spent much of their time working with the 41 participants on such fundamental concepts as breathing and posture. Ms. Lavan instructed some singers to stand with their arms spread, imaging energy extending from their fingertips, while Dr. Goodrich got a couple of the soloists to sing while bouncing on one foot! At the end of the day, both advised the young participants to have patience when selecting repertoire, and to focus on literature that is suitable for their development in order to protect their unique instruments. Students, teachers and parents were impressed with the master class.

The final round had its moment of crisis, though, when, at the last minute, the venue was cancelled! Tony Azeltine, choral director at Mark Keppel High School, came to the rescue and secured the parish hall at Holy Family Church in South Pasadena. Thank you so much, Tony! After a flurry of frantic emails and phone calls, all were alerted to the new venue. This year’s final round was organized a little differently than in years past. Because of the number of preliminary sites, more singers than ever before were advanced to the final round. With so many participants, this round was divided into two sessions, morning and afternoon, both adjudicated by Ms. Lavan and Dr. Goodrich. The winners were selected from the entire day’s participants.

Drum roll please… The winners of the 2008 Vocal Solo Competition are:

Austin Lee        8th grade          La Canada High School            Anne Cherchian, director
Davis Hansen   12th grade        La Canada High School            Anne Cherchian, director
Olivia Hernandez          12th grade        Fullerton Union High School     Scott Hedgecock, director
Erika Higuchi    11th grade        Bishop Amat Memorial High School     Linda Corwin, voice teacher
Zoe Johnson     12th grade        Harvard-Westlake School        Rodger Guerrero, director
Brandon Levin  11th grade        Harvard-Westlake School        Rodger Guerrero, director
Zach Wetzel     12th grade        La Canada High School            Anne Cherchian, director

The winners will perform at the Jr. High/Middle School Honor Choir concert on Sunday, May 4. At that time, the final placement of the high school winners will be announced, and each of the winners will receive their awards.

During the application process this year, there was some confusion about the choral requirement for the vocal solo competition. Since before I first ran the competition back in 2002, applicants for the solo competition simply had to belong to a choral organization of some kind, and community organizations were accepted as fulfilling that requirement. However, because of the confusion this year, the SCVA Board is revisiting the choral requirement issue. We are considering making the choral requirement for the vocal solo competition the same as that for the honor choirs. Namely, applicants would be required to be active members in their school choral program. The Board feels that this revised requirement would maintain consistency among the various SCVA events, and it would also better serve the stated goal of the SCVA to promote choral music in the schools. The revised choral requirement would take effect starting this coming fall.

As the vocal solo competition winds down for this year, I would just like to say what a pleasure it is to be involved with this event. From the tentative singers for whom this may be their first solo experience to the polished “veterans”, it’s wonderful to see these young singers strive in the vocal arts. Their achievements stand as testament to the teachers and families who support them in their efforts. All of the singers who participated this year are to be commended for the commitment and hard work that they put into preparing for this event. Each has grown as a musician, a performer, and as person because of the experience. And our choral programs reap the rewards.


Barbershop Harmony Festivals a Whopping Success!
Mark Freedkin & Karen Ridout, Festival Coordinators

The Harborlites Chorus held their 3rd Annual “Diva Day” on Saturday, February 2 at Orange Coast College.  Over 215 young women from 21 Southern California high schools came together for the barbershop experience.  It was exciting to have 10 first time high schools participate this year.  The girls and their choral directors thoroughly enjoyed the day of learning and performing four part harmony barbershop style under the direction of our guest clinician Dede Nibler from Fresno, CA., assisted by Harborlites Director Pam Pieson and the Harborlites Music Team.  The festival ended with an evening performance for an audience of over 400 parents, families and friends.  Our scheduled guest quartet Razzcals was unable to join us due to a bad snow storm in the Pacific Northwest.  Chapter quartets Hypnotic, Applause, High Life, Portfolio and Orange Crush stepped up to fill out the program which featured the Diva Day Chorus and the 2008 International Champions Harborlites Chorus.  A combined chorus of over 300 packed the risers to sing “In My Life” to close the show, a perfect ending to a wonderful day of harmony.

The Masters of Harmony held their 8th Annual Young Men’s Harmony Festival on Saturday, February 23 at Orange Coast College. We had 217 young men from 27 high schools and junior high schools throughout Southern California in attendance, and the feedback from students, parents and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive. The evening show was nothing less than stellar, and it featured the young men’s chorus, quartets from La Habra High School and Jurupa Valley High School, guest quartets OC Times, Gotcha! and the Masters of Harmony, culminating with a combined finale with over 300 singers on stage. This year’s event brings our eight-year total to just over 1,700 students who have participated in one or more of our festivals.

Plans are already underway for next year’s Festivals.  The women’s festival is tentatively planned for Saturday, February 7, 2009, and the men’s festival is tentatively planned for Saturday, February 21, 2009.  Please watch the SCVA website for more information as it becomes available.


Something New - Chris Hall, Maria Fritts & Jennifer Stanley
We have a new and easier way for choral teachers to respond to the Festival Questionnaire and Choral Adjudication Evaluation.  In the past these forms have been in your festival packet given to you at the end of your festival.  We have asked you to write your comments and return them by mail to Chris Hall.  This year these forms are again in your packet and now also ON LINE for your convenience.  Please take a moment after you return to school from your festival to reflect on the experience.  The Middle School and High School Festival Chairpersons, Maria Fritts and Jennifer Stanley read the forms and take this information seriously.  We wish to continue to make the festival experience better every year for both teachers and students.  Go to and click on Festival information.  These two forms will be listed there.  Fill them out and click on send.  That’s it, no stamps or walking to the mail room. 


Vocal Jazz – Jamie Shew, VP/Jazz Choir
The SCVA Vocal Jazz Festival was a great success!!!  I’d like to extend a very special thank you to April Dooley of Saugus HS, Robert Petersen of Warren HS, Shawn Tayler of Katella HS, Jennifer Page of Vista Murrieta HS, Tony Azeltine of Mark Keppel HS, Roger Estrada of Upland HS, and Jill DeWeese of Fullerton Academy of the Arts for making it such a wonderful day of music making and sharing.  Another thank you goes out to Jennifer Barnes and Matt Falker for being our adjudicators and clinicians that day.  Each group received helpful written comments from them as well as an on-stage clinic.  Students also participated in a vocal styling and improvisation clinic by Matt and Jennifer – they even had the opportunity to scat over a very Samba “Happy Birthday”!!!

More California vocal jazz festivals to consider are:
*March 7 – Mt. San Antonio College Vocal Jazz Festival, Walnut, CA
*March 7-8 – Columbia College Vocal Jazz Festival, Sonora, CA
*March 14-15 – Oceanside Jazz Festival (Mira Costa College), Oceanside, CA
*March 28—Val Verde Jazz Festival at Rancho Verde H.S., Riverside, CA
*April 4-5—Fullerton College Jazz Festival, Fullerton, CA
(Sorry for my shameless plug!!!  We are continuing the College/University component to the festival this year.  This is a great opportunity for your students to hear a variety of colleges and universities and possibly visit with the directors!)
*April 19—Royal HS Vocal Jazz Festival


Presents the

2008 Junior High School / 9th Grade Honor Choir
2008 Vocal Solo Contest Winners

“In Concert”

Sunday, May 4, 2008
3:30 P.M.

Alhambra High School Auditorium
101 S. Second St., Between Commonwealth and Main
Alhambra, CA

Tickets $5 at the Door.  Doors open at 3:00P.M.


Other Important Information
On-Line SCVA Membership Application