Michigan School Vocal Music Association

P.O. Box 1131

Big Rapids, MI 49307-1131

(231) 592 - 9344

© copyright 2019 MSVMA, All rights reserved.


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  • Tuesday, November 06, 2018 9:50 AM | Anonymous

    Wendee Wolf-Schlarf
    Past President

    As choral educators, we all have students in our choirs/classrooms who come forward as leaders. The desire to help students reach their leadership potential got me thinking about what kind of experiences currently exist to help students be leaders. I am aware of many MSVMA members who do a wonderful job developing student leaders in their choirs. They accomplish this within the context of their own program. Knowing this is happening in pockets around the state got me wondering if there was something MSVMA could provide that would contribute to developing student leadership within our high school students to help them gain skills which would positively inspire, serve and motivate others through their actions within their choral classrooms at the state level.

    Before moving towards considering a state activity for MSVMA, I wanted to see how leadership training was offered on a larger scale elsewhere. I learned ACDA was providing a national leadership workshop “Next Direction” in conjunction with a traditional leadership workshop provided by the Wisconsin ACDA organization. Wisconsin has had held a leadership conference for several years and the opportunity to see how they put their conference together was very appealing.  Three MSVMA members attended the week-long workshop this past June. Traverse City colleague and I, Tami Grove Williams went as observers and experienced how the workshop was put together from an organizational standpoint. Sawyer Schlarf, MSVMA college student member, attended as a conducting student and served as a mentor for the high school portion.

    The week long experience was divided into two focus sessions, each lasting 3 1/2 days. The week started with college choral music majors working with Dr. Joe Miller (Westminster Choir College) and Dr. Matthew Arau (Lawrence University). Sessions were offered on creating a culture of positivity in the choral rehearsal as well as foundation work on score study, conducting gesture and rehearsal sequencing. The second session focused on high school students who were considering going into the field of choral music in college and were identified as leaders within their high school choral programs. Dr. Edith Copley (Northern Arizona University) was the headliner with college conducting students staying on as mentors.

    Dr. Copley touched on many of the same focus points shared earlier in the week but put them in context of leading within a high school program. She started by asking students to reflect the characteristics of a person who inspired them. Dr. Copley encouraged the students to approach all their time together with positivity and willingness to examine the gifts they already possess as leaders and the skills they can develop to be even more affective. Throughout the various sessions and rehearsals that followed, Dr. Copley lead by example with sharing/doing first and then having students reflect on the experience. Such concepts were:

    • Purposeful warm-ups which help prepare for the teaching concepts covered in the rehearsal.

    • Leadership as a singer in a section vs. being the conductor.

    • Individual score study/prep so singers are prepared to lead by example and help teach.

    • Basic conducting skills that students can develop in their conducting gesture (beat patterns, style, entrances and cut offs)

      Erin Kurtz, Sawyer Schlarf, Dr. Joe Miller, Dr. Edith Copley, 
      Wendee Wolf-Schlarf, Tamara Williams

    The entire week was inspiring and has energized me to do more to support and grow leadership within my choral classroom. MSVMA provides wonderful performance opportunities for students and engaging professional development for choral educators. Experiencing the “Next Direction” workshop confirmed it was time to offer a professional development experience for our high school students who are leaders in our programs. I am very excited to announce we will be offering at MSVMA Student Leadership Conference July 30-31, 2019 in conjunction with the MSVMA Summer Conference. Be sure to look for details in the weekly MSVMA updates.

  • Thursday, September 20, 2018 10:07 AM | Anonymous

    Julia Jenkins Holt
    MSVMA State Scheduling Coordinator/Treasurer

    I am writing today not as your State Board Treasurer, but as the new State Scheduling Coordinator. I am taking over state scheduling duties from Marge Payne this year and want to thank her for her expertise and dedication to MSVMA.

    Before you schedule this year I would like you to consider the following items:

    1. Please understand that date/time preferences are just that – a preference. Not everyone can be scheduled in his or her perfect timeslot. I will do my best to fulfill requests, but please understand that the program may schedule you in a spot that is not your desired time or date.

    2. Accompanist limits for S&E events are 5 events per half day of festival. That means 5 on a Friday evening, 5 Saturday morning, 5 Saturday afternoon. Do not exceed these limits. Trying to cheat the system will only create conflicts for your school.

    3. Each accompanist should only be listed ONCE in the pull-down menu.  LOOK for your accompanist before you type in their name as another director may have entered them first. The accompanist is only one person, but the system cannot avoid conflicts if it thinks they are two different people because they have been entered twice.

    4. NO CHANGES to the schedule will be made after the change deadline. You must request changes prior to that date or they will not be made.

    5. There has been an update to the Missed Event Policy for State S&E clarifying the purpose of the policy. It is meant for students who miss an event in an unavoidable situation, not as a way to reschedule events at the festival. Please see the website for the full policy language.

    6. I am the director at Eisenhower High School and will be busy preparing my own students for these festivals as well as serving as State Treasurer, teaching a performing group at church, and running my own active elementary-aged children to various activities after school. I will be taking care of all scheduling issues in the late evening time after they are in bed, so please realize that if you email me in the morning, you may not get a response until late that evening.

    7. Payment can be made by school check or a director’s personal check payable to MSVMA and must be postmarked by the deadline. Purchase orders are acceptable at the postmark deadline, but the State Office must receive payment by the date listed on the event website page.

    8. There are new registration instructions on each state event webpage and even on the district level S&E and Festival pages. It may be helpful for new and experienced directors alike to check out the instructions before registering for each festival.

    9. If you have questions scheduling district events, please contact your district manager. If you have questions scheduling state events, please contact me. If you have issues with your login for msvma.net (remember that it is a separate website from msvma.org) please contact Christy Seyler.

    I look forward to serving you in this position and wish you a great year full of excited students and beautiful music!

  • Monday, July 09, 2018 10:20 AM | Anonymous

    Bert Van Dyke
    Director of State Choral & S&E Festivals

    We all benefit when we attend a quality festival experience with our students so let’s begin with a huge THANK YOU to our Supervisors, festival Hosts, Coordinators, and Volunteers who ran our 2018 festivals! These are the persons who provide the setting for our students to apply their learning from our classrooms in a dynamic, interactive context, working with top-notch professionals and sharing the experience with others from around our region and state.

    If you are interested in serving in some capacity with State Events, let me know! We currently need a Coordinator for State SE East and a Supervisor of State Choral Festivals. And as we plan for 2019 there will be more opportunities to help.

    Volunteer Opportunities

    We are all in this together. You should volunteer! Besides - you kind of have to now - MSVMA recently adopted a policy that asks every member to volunteer in some capacity during the school year. You’ll hear more details before next fall.  So what are some great options for volunteering?

    My short list of suggestions would include:

    • Just help out at festival for a day! Work in the office or chair a room, but chip in and help with the work. Stressed about volunteering and attending with your kids? Volunteer for a time, day, or a festival when you are not taking students. There are endless ways to help out. This is the easiest commitment but it makes a huge impact on the quality of the festival.

    • Got some festival experience? Step up and serve as District Manager, or Host a District event.

    • You could be a State Festival Host or Coordinator.

    • Serve on one of our area committees – more news to come on this soon.

    • Maybe you’re ready to serve on the MSVMA Board – we are a self-governed organization. These positions are filled by elections of qualified candidates on a regular basis.

    MSVMA has been the single best influence on my development as an Educator. Serving as a volunteer has brought me infinitely more insight, depth, understanding and growth; essentially amplifying the positive influence on my teaching.

  • Monday, June 25, 2018 7:45 AM | Anonymous

    Eric Cadena
    Summer Conference, Michigan Youth Arts & Specialized Festivals 2015-19

    In a teacher’s life, the summer is a time for reflection and renewal. Put the first three days of August on your calendar to recharge by attending the Summer Conference in Lansing! Our headliners Dr. Tim Sharp and Dr. Andrea Ramsey both offer valuable insights into vocal music education. Dr. Sharp will challenge us to collaborate with others, to build our own personal community and to lead ensemble members towards personal growth. Dr. Ramsey brings her experience as both composer and conductor. She’ll give us ways to engage choir members so we have more enjoyable rehearsals. We’ll take an honest look at the realities and challenges of teaching adolescent singers in non-auditioned choirs. Dr. Ramsey will also lead us through several of her pieces and share interesting stories or musical considerations tied to the scores

    The Summer Conference gives you multiple opportunities for relevant professional development. Many of your colleagues from around the state offer their passion and expertise on a wealth of vocal music topics. Make sure to join us at the Lansing Brewing Company on the first night to meet new friends and reconnect with others. We gather on the second night to honor our Teacher of the Year and spend some quality time together. Also, up to 17 SCECHs will be available at the Summer Conference.

    Have you registered for the Summer Conference?  The early bird registration deadline of June 29th is fast approaching! http://www.msvma.org/SummerConference

  • Tuesday, June 19, 2018 9:01 AM | Anonymous

    Julia Jenkins Holt
    MSVMA Treasurer

    Are you good with numbers?

    I am in the process of developing two new committees as part of our new MSVMA Board structure and am looking for people who would be interested in volunteering in this capacity. Both committees will meet digitally, so there are no required meetings to attend. If you are interested in either of these opportunities, please email JuliaHolt@msvma.org.

    Finance Committee

    This group will review the quarterly financial reports and annual budget via email. The committee will make recommendations to the Board when adjustments need to be made based on our income and expenses.

    Fund Development Committee

    This committee’s purpose is to develop private support for MSVMA with focus on member contributions and other revenue sources. Tasks may include approving fundraising campaign material, contacting potential donors and making recommendations to the Board on new strategies.

    I hope you will consider one of these committees as a meaningful way to volunteer some of your time to this great organization.

  • Thursday, March 15, 2018 12:30 PM | Anonymous

    Virginia Kerwin
    Executive Director

    Exciting! Challenging! Enlightening! Inspiring! Unifying!

    Chelsea High School and Detroit Renaissance High School students were at no loss for words to describe the musical journey they shared that culminated in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day concert. Their choral directors, Steven Hinz and Patrice DeBose, were enthusiastically committed to creating an opportunity for students to experience and understand the impact that shared music making in a collaborative environment can have on the human spirit.   

    Hinz and DeBose chose Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo as the

    centerpiece for their collaborative choral project, the quintessential selection for teaching and experiencing utopian global unity. The program notes explain, “Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo brings to life the global aspect of the traditional Psalm 100 text, “O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands.” It is composed in seven different languages and draws from a wide spectrum of musical influences.

    From the concert program, “Each movement of the work combines characteristics of its language-group’s musical culture with the composer’s musical language. The opening movement expresses the ancient liturgical Latin translation of the Psalm in a rather American musical idiom, reflecting influences from the composer’s native country and introducing key musical motives. The second movement sets the “from age to age” portion of the text in Hebrew and Arabic, evoking ancient cultures from the Middle East. The music intentionally intertwines the two languages in a symbolic gesture of unity between these cultures. The work shifts to Africa in the fourth movement, with celebratory portions of the text in Zulu and drawing from African vocal and drumming traditions.  The sixth movement, “Song of the Earth,” portrays the Earth itself singing—first wordlessly, but eventually finding its own voice—and leads seamlessly into the final movement. The finale unites many of the key themes and cultures from previous movements with other material, old and new, as all the earth sings as one, “omnis terra, jubilate!"

    The process was well defined. Daily rehearsals with their teachers were augmented with sessions with guest teachers/conductors Dr. Brandon Johnson from Eastern Michigan University and Dr. Eugene Rogers from The University of Michigan. Singers were helped to understand that great music encourages interpretation variances and the use of different rehearsal techniques. They learned that creative decision making is exploring limitless possibilities and transformation through the iterative process!  

    The concert at Westminster Church of Detroit began with You Must Have True Religion by Roland Carter and Alleluia by Ralph Manuel sung by the Detroit Renaissance High School Choir and followed by Carl Reinecke’s Serenade in G Minor performed by the Chelsea Chamber Players and the Chelsea High School Chamber Orchestra. The performance artistry was exceptional.  Student instrumentalists playing side by side with professional musicians created an extraordinary collaborative “voice”. Extending the performance’s outreach, the Chelsea First United Methodist Church Chancel Choir joined the students for the performance of Jubilate Deo.  From the first note to the final “shout for joy, all the earth!”, the concert was inspired by the demonstrated personal commitment of each musician as they performed with the nuance of sensitive phrase shaping, rhythmic integrity and textual understanding. Audience members were inspired by the vulnerability of musical artists sharing a glimpse of the future, a future where people from all backgrounds, religions, and nationalities gather together in song, expressing the richness of life and inviting others to do the same.  

    Patrice DeBose acknowledged the communities, school districts, concert hosts and generous donors.  She spoke of the dreams that she had for her students that were realized through this experience including:

    -The opportunity to learn from choral leaders in the profession.

    -The sharing through “family groups,” and gleaning the understanding that everyone has value and something unique to contribute to the world and our music programs.

    -Understanding, through the sharing of music, the need to care for one another.  

    Steve Hinz quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.

    If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail.

    If you can’t be a sun, be a star.

    For it isn’t by size that you win or fail.

    Be the best of whatever you are.
    - Martin Luther King, Jr.


    He expressed hope that the concert honored and embraced the tenants of Dr. King’s work. He asked the audience to consider, “How do we respond to the injustices and the rhetoric of hate around us?  Are we limited because we can’t respond adequately to the size of the problems? Maybe the solutions can be found inside each of us.” Steve continued, “As I look inward to what I see in my life, my community, this region of Michigan, and our country I ask – Is there a way I can respond with what I do every day?”  He paused, “I am blessed to be a teaching musician and I believe that this vehicle of bringing communities together can be so much more than just the music.”

    Hinz and DeBose were overwhelmed by generous financial support from the Chelsea community and grant funding from DPS Foundation, Chelsea Community Foundation, American Choral Directors Association-Fund for Tomorrow and the Michigan School Vocal Music Association. The students and their teachers are grateful to everyone who helped make this incredible experience possible.  

    Exciting! Challenging! Enlightening! Inspiring! Unifying!

    Alexa, Bobbi, Damon, Malia and Zoe, I couldn’t agree more!

    The idea of musical beauty bridging the cultural divide has been a lifelong obsession with me. It is woven into my DNA.  When I had the opportunity to attend the final concert of this collaboration, I jumped at the opportunity to travel with the Chelsea contingency to Westminster Church of Detroit. I could feel an energy force running through the students.  Alexa, Bobbi, Damon, Malia and Zoe spoke with me about the “journey” they shared with music for nearly four months.  Ginny

    Tell me about the music you are singing this evening.

    The music is a series of foreign languages from around the world, and put together in one song to show the unity across the world.  Alexa

    The music comes from different cultures and was put together to celebrate the importance of collaboration.  Bobbi

    Arrangements in a book called Jubilate Deo from multiple cultures.  Now I can sing songs from the Latin culture and from the African culture.  Malia

    Jubilate Deo is basically a call to the world about peace and joy and happiness within our lives. Zoe

    What did you learn about music that you did not know before?

    Music’s ability to unify.  Alexa

    There are so many different languages to sing, and you can tell the story of celebration in all of them.  It’s ok to step outside of yourself and try new things that you aren’t used to doing because you learn about yourself.   Bobbi

    There are different styles all over the world, but music unites us through our differences.  Damon

    Songs can bring something out of you, emotions.  I never had that happen before where I felt empowered just by the music.   Malia

    What about this experience will influence you in your adult life?

    The importance of being patient, especially when working with so many musicians.  Alexa

    Some people are different from other people in a lot of different ways, but people are the same in a lot of ways too. As long as you know how to balance those things, people will always know how to come together and mesh well together.  Bobbi

    When I’m a parent, as an African-American I need to show my kids how to be social with everybody regardless of their nationality.  Damon

    It’s important to accept people for who they are as human beings.  Zoe

  • Tuesday, March 06, 2018 3:59 PM | Anonymous

    MSVMA is pleased to announce the addition of a new featureVirtuoso Moments, in its Through Song publication.  Personal stories of honor, distinction and achievement of our members will be shared and celebrated.  Please help us make this new initiative a successful addition to our outreach activities.  If you know of an MSVMA member deserving recognition, please forward her/his name and details about their achievement(s) to kerwin@msvma.org.  

    We are pleased to begin this feature with sharing the recent accomplishments of Bob Cindric.  Bob has been active in MSVMA serving as its Board president, as an adjudicator and a clinician.  He is the recipient of MSVMA's prestigious Reaching for the Stars Award. 

    Bob recently was featured in two online publications.

    In addition, Bob was interviewed by Mitch Albom and the news anchors at Channel 4 Detroit about the Saline Swarm of Voices Choir that he directs.

    We congratulate Bob Cindric and express our best wishes for continued success! 


  • Tuesday, February 27, 2018 10:18 AM | Anonymous

    Angel Gippert


    Placing value on education and learning has always been high on a teacher’s priority list. We seek opportunities that help us in our quest for more knowledge. Every January, music educators are given the opportunity to develop our skills and knowledge through professional development and musical experiences as well as to collaborate professionally with our colleagues and friends. The Michigan Music Conference features school ensemble concerts, performances from Honors Choirs, All-State Bands, and Orchestras; sessions for in-service and pre-service teachers; professional development clinics; hands-on technology workshops; and association membership and business meetings.  What an amazing opportunity to rekindle our flame and passion for learning!

    2018 Michigan Music Conference

    Conference highlights:

    Choral Hour Performance Groups:  Congratulations to the schools and directors who were chosen to perform at MMC: Brownell MS/Carolyn Gross, South Lyon HS/Andrew Hathikhanavala, Ann Arbor Pioneer HS/Steven Lorenz, Rockford Freshman Center/Renee Vande Wege, Saline HS/Sarah Price and Ann Arbor Skyline HS/Lyndsay ChieChanski.

    Reading Sessions: Jim Watson presented the Most Recommended Choral Music from 20 State Music Lists.  Repertoire Board Members presented literature for all levels and voicings at the other reading session. Thank you, Repertoire Supervisors and Executive Board Director of Repertoire!

    Headliner: Our headliner was David Fryling, director of choral activities at Hofstra University.  He also has served as the Coordinator of the Vocal Artists program at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. Before his appointment at Hofstra, he served as music director and conductor of the University of Michigan Arts Chorale and assistant conductor of the Michigan Chamber Singers, University Choir and the Men’s Glee Club.

    Thursday Evening Concert: The Thursday Evening Concert featured the Eastern Michigan University Choir and the Oakland University Wind Symphony. 

    Conducting Symposium: The fourth annual MSVMA Choral Conducting Symposium was led by Dr. Jerry Blackstone, University of Michigan. This event allows participants to conduct traditional choral repertoire with a featured rehearsal ensemble and receive feedback and instruction from our guest clinician. Teachers may apply as a Conductor or an Observer (reduced fee). College students may apply as an Observer. New and experienced choral conductors can benefit from observing or conducting.

    For more details on performances, sessions and exhibitors at the MMC, please visit the MMC website at http://www.michiganmusicconference.org

    Thank you to the volunteers who served as MMC session presiders!

    Thank you to Eric Cadena, Mark Krempski Steven Lorenz and Wendee Wolf-Schlarf as well as Ginny Kerwin for representing MSVMA on the MMC Planning Committee and the MMC Executive Board.  Through their tireless work and dedication in conjunction with the other associations, MMC was an enriching event. It is encouraging to see the volunteer work of a few, benefit so many. Thank you also for making Planning Committee meetings succinct, focused and productive by coming to the table prepared and by providing effective communication prior to each meeting.


    District Manager Activities

    • District Managers have begun planning for District Solo & Ensemble and Choral Festivals.  I hope continued use of the online scheduler for Festivals makes the process of planning and conducting these events more efficient.
    • Efforts to standardize district website content and formatting have become very consistent. Accuracy and up-to-date content require vigilance on the part of district managers.
    • Efforts to standardize district reporting to the Executive Board and State Office including district meeting agendas, meeting minutes, Full Board reports, and financial activity continue to present challenges and may require more intervention to improve quantity and quality in this aspect of managing districts. The use of Google Classroom to inform and track responsibilities was implemented in October 2016 and its impact is being monitored for effectiveness.  A checklist will be added to the District Manager Manual and will be added to the DM Google Classroom.

    Upcoming deadlines:

    2019 MMC Session Proposal Application must be submitted by April 11, 2018.

    2019 MMC Choral Hour Performance Application must be submitted by May 14, 2018.

    2019 MMC Specialized Choral Hour Performance Application must be submitted by May 14, 2018.

    2019 Michigan Music Conference, January 24-26, 2019 (Grand Rapids)

    May you always be diligent in your quest of knowledge and learning!

  • Tuesday, February 27, 2018 10:03 AM | Anonymous

    Bert Van Dyke
    Director of State Festival Events

    State Solo and Ensemble Festivals are scheduled in April for 2018, 2019 and 2020 for all sites. Registration deadline is March 1. Transfer requests may be submitted until February 15.

    The correct solo fee for 2018 is $35. Please forgive the error in the original invitation letter. The purpose of the $5 change is to provide pianos for all events including solo warm-up rooms.  (Yay!)

    Piano rule: Please do not make adjustments to settings on digital pianos. Accompanists or directors are not to change keys, sensitivity or other instrument settings. Volume may be adjusted as appropriate.

    Festival Site Locations

    In a perfect world, we would have a dedicated host, in the geographic center of each region, with a perfect (and free) facility, always available for our festivals. We do our best to provide consistent performance conditions and reasonable locations for our state festivals.

    I hope that members will be kind and appreciative to our hosts and coordinators! I hope directors will volunteer to help!  I hope we meet your expectations with sites and facilities and if it is your turn to travel a little farther, I hope you are OK with that. If you have any feedback/comments or some great ideas for state festivals, please let me know.

    Please consider volunteering at your festival site or at another event. Maybe you are busy during S&E but could help with choral or vise-versa.  Emerick Dee has already advised me that he needs help at Choral Central site, contact him if you can help. We are always recruiting hosts and coordinators, so please contact me if you’d be willing to consider one of these important roles.

    Best wishes for a meaningful and uplifting festival season!

  • Friday, February 16, 2018 1:47 PM | Anonymous

    Julia Jenkins Holt

    MSVMA Treasurer

    As we are rolling through the festival season there are a few issues that have been brought to my attention by district managers and festival supervisors. For the most part these seem like small inconsequential things, but when you are running a district or a festival those little things add up. There are some little details that you might not even realize you are doing that ultimately makes someone else’s job harder – and we all know we hate it when students and parents do that to us. I am bringing a few of those things to your attention in the hopes that we can all help make the load on our volunteer leadership a little lighter.

    • SCHOOL OR DIRECTOR CHECKS ONLY – MSVMA has a policy of only accepting checks from schools or directors because if there is an issue with the check clearing, they know where to follow up. It is tempting to just send a parent check for that one S&E soloist, but you are creating more follow up work for the DM and will likely have to fix it on your end as well.
    • REGISTER FESTIVAL EVENTS UNDER THE CORRECT SCHOOL – Many of us teach in more than one building and have multiple school memberships. When scheduling festival events it is important to enter them under the correct school. It seems like a pain when you have to submit one invoice and then sign out of one school in the scheduler to sign into your other school to register the rest of your events. When you do not follow through on this all of your events are listed for one school, so you get the 7th & 8th Grade Choir from PeongChang High School instead of Olympic Middle School. This is not only frustrating while trying to organize a schedule but is also printed on all of the festival labels, programs, etc.
    • OVERSCHEDULING ACCOMPANISTS – Some members have large programs with many events at a festival, but overscheduling accompanists past the five events per half day just causes problems for your DM or festival scheduler. The schedules are tight and it is very difficult to make all of the puzzle pieces fit so when you do not follow this rule, it creates a lot of extra work.
    • MISSING DEADLINES – We all have things that slip away from us due to the realities of teaching today. It is important to plan ahead and make sure that you get all of your festival registrations in on time.

    Your attention to these details could make someone else’s job a little bit easier…and couldn’t we all use that?

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