Summer Choral Workshop
Mentorship is an important topic in the current choral profession. We recognize as a choral culture that we need to do a better job of nurturing, encouraging, and educating young conductors, as well as inspiring and educating more seasoned conductors. Historically continuing education has relied on workshop models, most often provided in yearly conferences. It is difficult for any conductor to make significant or lasting growth from this model. Traditional mentorship is a one on one relationship and does not satisfy the demand for necessary outreach to conductors. My mentorship model is to provide a three-day intensive workshop, with varied applications of only a few related topics. Study of vocal technique rooted in the Vowel Chart (see also Vowel Chart in Teaching) is first explored. Students then play with empathic conducting gestures that have been developed to reflect the pedagogy shown in the chart. Lastly, the students discover methods to extend the empathic understanding of technique and artistry in rehearsal through mirroring and one on one teaching. This helps conductors see vocal technique, conducting gesture, and rehearsal pedagogy as three facets of a single simple pedagogy, which helps teachers immediately be more efficient and effective.
This mentorship model, as it takes root, encourages relationship between intergenerational conductors, as mentees range from college age students to retirees. Further, mentees return to the three-day intensive multiple times to further master the principles. In some cases the mentorship group continues to function on its own, and develops choral activities such as retreats, exchanges, and festivals for the members and their choirs. The Vancouver B.C.mentorship group has now developed a second group for new teachers.