SCVA Newsletter (on-line version) - November 2006


Message from the President - Mark Henson, President
The Honor Choir Experience

The SCVA High School Honor Choirs have been selected and will soon be presenting a wonderful program under the direction of our outstanding guest conductors.  My own Honor Choir experience as a Troy High School student is still clear in my mind.  (Incidentally, Dave Weiller, one of this year’s guest conductors, is a Troy graduate as well!)  We were fortunate at Troy to have a very large program with seven choirs and two outstanding directors who provided us with great literature and inspiring instruction.  As Honor Choir members, we would interact with students from similar programs, and also with students who were members of developing or rebuilding programs.  Honor Choir gave us the chance to appreciate and enjoy our many situations while experiencing great literature together.

I know that most directors agree that the Honor Choir experience is rewarding and meaningful for our students.  Preparing for the auditions is, in itself, a worthwhile teaching tool.  At the audition sites I’ve been involved with, I enjoy seeing the students as they check in.  Many are not sure what to expect but are willing to go for it and give it their best.  Honor Choir “veterans” are a bit more at ease, but can still be seen calming their nerves before entering the audition room.  After the auditions, smiles are wide and everyone, rightfully so, feels proud of their efforts.

Those students lucky enough to be chosen as Honor Choir members will have the chance to experience new literature, new conductors, and new friends.  Many of our students have waited a whole hear to reconnect with friends from last year’s choir.  Others will discover a conductor they may like to work with in college.  Still others will experience a piece of music that will remain one of their favorites.  (For me, it was the Erb Shenandoah and the Chesnokov Salvation is Created.)

So… why is it that some schools are not represented at Honor Choir auditions?  Understandably, there may be schedule conflicts, but since Honor Choir occurs at the same time each year, these can be handled for future years.  But what about the schools who have never participated, or who don’t even know about Honor Choir?  There are many theories about why some directors do not offer this experience to their students. 

Some directors feel that if their students are under-prepared for the auditions or are not selected for the choir, that the quality of their teaching will be called into question.  Others feel uncomfortable with particular styles of music and do not wish to stretch their students beyond the director’s own comfort zone.  Some directors may worry about how to deal with the disappointment of a student who prepares diligently, but is not selected.  Others think, “I’ve never done it before, so why do it now?”  or  “Our district has an Honor Choir, so why do we need another?”

Each of these scenarios is outweighed by the positive impact Honor Choir has on our students and our programs.  I urge you to make this opportunity available to your singers.  Elementary directors:  Let your students know about the Middle School and High School Honor Choirs.  If you don’t already have one, start a Sixth Grade Honor Choir in your district or region.  Middle School directors:  Start the Honor Choir culture by having your seventh grade students prepare for Middle School Honor Choir auditions in the Spring.  High School directors:  If you haven’t participated in Honor Choir, come to the concert.  Encourage your students to prepare an Art Song and try out next Fall.  Encourage your ninth grade singers to audition for the Middle School Honor Choir.  Ask other directors what has been successful in preparing their students for Honor Choir.  Agree to host an audition site.  If you have experience with Honor Choir, seek out others in your area who have not yet participated to offer your expertise.  Ask a colleague to come with you to the concert or a rehearsal.  College/University directors:  Come to the Honor Choir concert.  (The concert program is a free recruiting list!)  Encourage the high school directors in your area to send students to Honor Choir auditions.  Let the directors in your area know what skills students need to become members of your program.  Offer some of your students the opportunity to coach high school singers.

I look forward to seeing you at this month’s Honor Choir Concert in Santa Monica.  We never know what future directors, composers, guest Honor Choir conductors, or SCVA presidents may be among our students.  Let’s make sure we don’t pass up an opportunity to change a life!


Vocal Jazz - Jamie Shew, VP, Jazz Choir


The SCVA Fall Vocal Jazz Festival is a great time to share your “works in progress” with each other in a non-competitive atmosphere.   Professional clinicians will also be working with your students and providing clinics on a variety of topics.  This year, the festival will be held in the Campus Theatre at Fullerton College on December 2nd.  This all-day event will end with a very special concert featuring legendary jazz vocalist, Sunny Wilkinson, with the Fullerton College Big Band.  Fullerton College’s premiere Vocal Jazz Ensemble, “J Train,” will also perform.  Please put this date on your calendar!!!  The festival is open to all levels, novice through advanced.  The fee is only $150 per group plus an additional $5 per student participant for the concert (a 50% discount!!!).

 Time:  10:00am – 4:00pm (may change slightly based on the number of groups attending)
 Location:  Fullerton College Campus Theatre, 321 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, CA
 Equipment: 16 microphones
 Provided: Piano, Bass Amp, Drumset (cymbals will not be provided)
 Deadline to Apply: November 22, 2006
 Cost: $150 per group

Please note: No cash or personal checks accepted.  Payment may be made by school or booster club check, money order, or PayPal.  If using PayPal, please include your confirmation slip with your application.

If you have any question regarding the festival and concert, or you just want to chat, please contact Jamie at 714-992-7289 or

Jazz Festival Application

We are all very excited that Jill DeWeese is once again organizing the effort for the All-State Jazz Choir. The ensemble will perform at the annual CMEA convention in Sacramento on March 14-16, 2006. Applications and details are available on the CMEA web site ( Encourage your students to submit an audition tape! Deadline for submission is October 31.

For more information, contact Jill DeWeese: or (714) 626-3975.


Sat, December 2, 2006 - SVCA Vocal Jazz Festival at Fullerton College (non-competitive), Fullerton, CA
Wed-Sat, January 10-13, 2007 - IAJE Conference in New York, NY (
Wed-Sat, February 21-24, 2007 - Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival (competitive), Moscow, ID


Men's & Women's Barbershop Harmony Festivals - Mark Freedkin, Barbershop Harmony Society (SPEBSQSA)

This year's Men's and Women's Barbershop Harmony Festivals will be held on the following dates:

   "Diva Day" (Young Women's Harmony Festival): Saturday, February 3, 2007, Anaheim High School
   Young Men's Harmony Festival: Saturday, February 17, 2007, Cypress College

The seventh annual Young Men’s Harmony Festival will be held on Saturday, February 17, 2007 at Cypress College.  Starting at 10:00am, the day-long event will consist of a morning and afternoon clinic and rehearsal, followed by a public performance in the evening with the Masters of Harmony.  About four weeks prior to the event, we will provide sheet music and audio practice CD's for several songs arranged in the barbershop style.

The cost for the Young Men's Festival is only $20 per singer for early registration.  Local barbershop sponsors will cover the remaining costs for all sheet music, audio practice tracks, rehearsal facilities, guest clinicians, and performance costumes.  A commemorative T-shirt will be provided to each singer.  We will also provide lunch and dinner for the singers, as well as a catered dinner for any choral music educators who attend the rehearsal and clinic.  We request that you or a parent accompany your singers at the event to help maintain discipline during the long day.

To qualify for the early registration fee, complete the enclosed application and parental consent/medical form for each singer and send payment by cash, check or money order payable to “Masters of Harmony” to the address below NO LATER THAN DECEMBER 15, 2006.  Thereafter, the registration fee will be $25 per singer.  Any male student who is currently enrolled in a school choral music program is eligible to participate.  There is no limit to the number of students you can nominate from your choral program.  We can accommodate up to 200 singers, so don’t delay!

For the young women, the Harborlites Chorus (2005 Sweet Adelines International Chorus Champions) will host a similar event on Saturday, February 3 at the Cook Auditorium at Anaheim High School.  The cost for this event is also $20 for early registration by November 17 (or $25 thereafter).  All registration fees for the young women's event should be made payable to "Harborlites".

Applications and Parental Consent/Medical Release forms for both events are included in this newsletter.  Please be sure to use the proper forms for each event, and send them to the appropriate address.

For more information about these events, please contact:

Young Men's Harmony Festival                   Diva Day
Mark Freedkin                                                 Karen Ridout
Home: (949) 559-9621                                    Home: (714) 847-0787
Work: (949) 470-3117                                    Mobile: (714) 319-2325
Mobile: (714) 357-1187                                   e-mail:

Diva Day Application for Students
Diva Day Application for Music Educators
Diva Day Parental Consent/Medical Form

Young Men's Harmony Festival Application & Parental Consent/Medical Form


Vocal Solo Competition -  Robert Riddle, VP/Vocal Solo Competition
Some Thoughts

I’m honored to be a part of SCVA in this capacity.  My colleagues who have coordinated this event in the past have laid excellent ground work to make things run smoothly and I am grateful for the warm welcome as I come aboard.  I’ll need your help to make the 2006-2007 season a special one. 

Consider the following: “The best singers are soloists.  Perhaps we should qualify this idea!

- Soloists generally learn their music faster. They are aware of details like intonation and tone color; they understand the relationship between text and music.
- Soloists usually study their scores and parts on their own between rehearsals.
- Soloists can be flexible. They let vibrato unfold in the Romantic literature and spirituals or minimize it in Renaissance literature, and will take it out completely for special chords or cadences as required by the circumstances.
- Soloists desire to blend their voices and know how to do so.
- These “great singers” can sing solos if required because their personal vocal technique gives them the confidence to have that focus of attention.
- Soloists are hungry to learn and never finish their quest for improvement.
- In a word, soloists are leaders.

Fortunately in the choral universe all the little chiefs know there is one supreme chief:  YOU----- the choral conductor!

Great singers/soloists are knowledgeable and expressive and dedicated to the success of your program.  Many choral directors are wonderful singing models for their choirs and other directors who aren’t primarily singers wisely and responsibly brush up on vocal pedagogy.  I feel confident in saying that most choir directors are successful in teaching their knowledge to their choir members. Yet even in the smallest of programs, directors cannot hear, diagnose, and treat or exercise each of the individual voices in order to achieve maximum potential.

We must enlist the help of our local voice teachers.  Find them and recommend your singers to them.  If you had one singer in each section taking private lessons their improvement will inspire others. The singers will share their knowledge and the improvements could become contagious.

Finally, please consider hosting a site for the competition this year.  All you need to do is make you choir room available on a Saturday morning.  I’d like to see 160 students participate this year.  We can reach this goal if more participants from the far south, South Bay, West LA and Inland Empire regions participate.  I challenge those of you who have been a part of the event in the past to double your efforts and enjoy double the benefits of motivated and informed singers in your ensembles.  The personal adventure of your soloist- students will spark contagious enthusiasm in your choirs.

Application Information
Junior high/middle school and high school students are encouraged to participate.  The application fee remains at $20.  This fee is non-refundable.  Applications must be accompanied by a school check or money order payable to SCVA.  You can also pay online by visiting and selecting e-payments.  Please, no purchase orders, personal checks or cash.  Each applicant should include a self-addressed envelope with their application for notification.  Participants must be active members in a choral ensemble.  Church, temple and community groups meet this requirement.  The application must be signed by the choral director.  If the choral director is not a member of SCVA, then the application must be signed by both the choral director and the private voice teacher.  Directors and/or voice teachers must be current members of SCVA, having paid their 2006-07 dues, in order for their students to participate. 

Performance Info
Each participant will sing one classical selection (art song or aria).  Selections should be appropriate to the singer’s level of experience.  Participants will be given a total of 8 minutes to perform and work with the adjudicator.  Keep in mind that a longer song means less time to work with the adjudicator.  Singers must provide their own skilled accompanists for the preliminary and semi-final rounds.  (Keep costs down by sharing an accompanist.)  An accompanist will only be provided for the final concert performance.  The preliminary and semi-final rounds are in master-class format, lasting approximately 3-4 hours, including breaks.  Participants are expected to check in before the master class starts and remain until the end to receive their certificates and adjudication forms.  Please remind participants to make sure that they are available for all dates and times before completing the application.  Also, please help our participants by not scheduling a gig for your choir on the same day that any of your students is scheduled to sing in the competition, or excuse those students from the gig.  Singers arriving and leaving during the class can be distracting.

Up to five semi-finalists may be selected from each preliminary site at the high school level, along with one junior high/middle school semi-finalist.  Singers selected to continue to the semi-final round may either perform their selection from the preliminary round or prepare another.  At the semi-final round, the judges will select six high school finalists and one junior high/middle school finalist.  The high school finalists will consist of the two best female singers, the two best male singers and the two best singers at the judges’ discretion.  Final placement of the high school finalists will be announced at the Junior High/ Middle School Honor Choir concert. 

Dates to Remember
- Applications postmarked no later than Saturday, December 9, 2006.
- Preliminary rounds (various sites): 9am-1:30, Saturday, January 13, 2007
- Semi-final round (site TBD): 9am-2:30, Saturday, February 24, 2007
- Scholarships awarded after final performances at the Junior High/Middle School Honor Choir Concert (date, site, & time TBD)

Vocal Solo Competition Application


The Regional Honor Choirs Are Set! - Rich Brunner, VP/High School Honor Choirs

Talking About Students’ Audition Results
The auditions are over and the Honor Choir members have been picked.  Some of your kids might be ecstatic and some might be upset.  We love to help our students succeed.  We work with them on their music.  We make them practice their scales, their triads, their tonal memory and their sight-reading.  We admonish them to sing with gusto and to give the audition everything they’ve got.  And if they get in, great!  You have more work to do with them.  And if they don’t get in, fine.  You still have more work to do with them.

The process continues for your students.
Whether or not a student of yours makes the Honor Choir shouldn’t be the point.  We live in a society that tends to praise success more than failure, but failures are a part of the process.  And loving the process frees you up to continue loving the process, instead of looking for reasons why this student made it or that student didn’t.  Lloyd Cory once said: “It’s 100 times easier to criticize than to create.”  I hope that you will be the example of creativity to your students.  Show them how to continue to work hard and tell them that not making it into Honor Choir isn’t about who they are as a person, but rather about their preparation.

The process continues for you.
Two thoughts I would like to offer.  The first is to remember that it is very difficult to affect change if you are sitting on the outside complaining.  A wise man once said “Rail at the stars and see how indifferent they are to your railing.”  If you think changes should be considered, get closer, get involved.  The second is a story about a teacher last year who had a number of students audition and none of them made it.  This person was confused but confident that there was something to learn.  They came to the Honor Choir weekend last year, observed the quality of the students there and began to understand that they were going to have to raise the stakes for the auditions.  This year that person had several students make the Honor Choirs.

There are often students who have a bad day, or who find themselves freaking out unexpectedly.  Perhaps they just finished memorizing their song the day before the auditions and are tentative.  You can plan for numerous contingencies, but don’t beat yourself up if you left something out or didn’t start early enough.  Learn from the experiences this year and spend more time preparing next year.

The judging process is also not perfect…it’s done by human beings like yourself and often their judgments don’t agree with your assessments.  But this process is all about creating opportunities for our kids.  How you and your students embrace the opportunity is totally up to you and them.  A favorite phrase declares, “If you love only the results the process is a chore.  Love the process and the results will follow.”

Helping with the Weekend
Again, the process continues. Approximately 260 students will be descending on Santa Monica High School on November 17th and 18th and with them they will bring over 100 teachers, 500 or more parents and siblings and another 100 or so friends and classmates.

During the rehearsal process, working with and managing the choirs is great fun but a definite challenge.  It’s even more of a challenge when the singer to teacher ratio is 1:50, or worse 1:100.  Needless to say, we need a great deal of help on those two days.  Rodger and I so much appreciate all the help teachers gave us with the adjudication last month and we don’t want to overtax your goodwill.  But to those of you who had students audition for the Honor Choirs last month, please consider helping!  Even if it’s only for an hour or so, we need you.  It’s not glamorous work (and some of it is downright tedious) but it all needs to get done.

For those of you who have three or more students (Northern California Regionals say 2 or more) singing in the Honor Choirs, you will be expected to assist with the organization of the event on that weekend.  This could include conducting a sectional, accompanying a sectional, picking up pizzas, helping set up chairs, etc.  Plan to be available.  Please assist us in continuing to provide this musical experience for our singers.

Please contact Rich Brunner at if you can give us some of your time.


Junior High Honor Choir - Tony Azeltine, VP/Junior High/Middle School Honor Choir

Thank you, all, for the support and assistance you gave me in getting the Junior High Honor Choir to happen.  The students, as usual, were what made this event special for me.  You are doing superb work in your programs.  The students were bright, talented, very well behaved, and polite.  It was an honor to assist in putting this together.  Lori Marie Rios was her wonderful, musical, vivacious self, and assessed this particular group beautifully, and tailored the process to its unique character.  I hope all the students learned from her, as she gave them much.

To address the subject of administration:
- I’d like to have the event at the same location next year. Auditions will be two Saturdays, Feb. 24, and Mar. 3, 2007.
- I’ll take offers for audition sites and judges NOW!!
- Rehearsals will be Saturday, April 14 and 28, from 12:30 to 3:30 P.M.
- Honor Choir Weekend will be Saturday, May 5, rehearsal from 12:30 to 3:30 P.M., and the performance will be Sunday, May 6 at 3:30 P.M.

I do believe, however, we need to revisit our auditioning and membership procedures at this level, as the demands are different from the high school level.  Look for some slight changes in procedures.  Some procedures need to be adjusted to adapt to changing times. One thing is certain, fellow directors.  We need to have the ninth graders involved heavily. They were the soul of this group, and a few more would have made a huge difference.  We also need to scour the countryside, as it were, for males in our programs, and nudge them into auditioning and participating.  It’s pretty easy, actually, to skirt around the “being with elementary school kids” issue.  Any “honor” student will see the value inherent in participating, particularly if we, their mentors, talk with them and encourage them to develop leadership skills they can bring back to their own schools.

On a personal note, I’d like to implore the SCVA membership to assist and to get on board with me regarding the SCVA Junior High program.  These students are our future, as we already know.  Meeting and making music with peers is a great way to jumpstart our ninth graders in order to get to the next level of your programs.  Remember, SCVA programs are meant to serve and support YOU, the professional.  I can only be as good as you allow me to be, and with your participation, we can increase the talent base from which we may derive better groups.  With better groups come better artistic experiences for the students.

I’d definitely like feedback from you on these thoughts. My e-mail is  Hope you are having a wonderful beginning to the school year and discovering lots of new talent!


Other Important Information
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