Randy Schafer

“Oh no! This is an article about Randy’s unnatural obsession with large headed figurines!!!” Relax kids! It’s an article about those fleeting moments we all see in our contact with our choral music passion. Besides, I reserve writing about figurines with big eyes and cherubic faces for the fall of the year.

What is the precious, fleeting moment that first comes to mind in thinking back to the previous months? Did it happen in the middle of a sonorous section of the music? Did a rhythm that had stymied your ensemble suddenly sound with bell-like clarity? Or perhaps that young baritone for whom pitch is “an elusive pursuit” suddenly cleared up the static between his ear, his brain, and his vocal cords and sang a melody with precision in both its highs and lows. Eureka! Whatever your precious moments are, own them.

I have the honor of participating in the ACDA 2020 visioning group. At one of our early meetings, we went around and talked about these sorts of gems as they relate to the literature we’re working on with our ensembles. One of our colleagues mentioned his choir’s performance of the Bach Magnificat, while another veteran conductor spoke of her young tenor/bass choir successfully singing “Bonse Aba” without reinforcement from the piano. I defy anyone to not see triumph in both of these. We are the authorities on the groups standing in front of us each day. We need to speak with pride about those precious moments with our choirs rather than keep them “in the family,”and we need not measure our success by comparing ourselves to those we see on the risers at conferences and honor choir festivals.

Speaking of precious moments, we have just recently been notified which of our students will be participating in the 2018-19 All-State choirs. We will see the exuberance of singers who feel validated for all of their hard work and successful audition preparation. We will walk a bit taller into our administrator’s office to let them know one of our own is “gonna represent” at All-State. We will also see disappointment in the eyes of the students who feel personally let down by the results of the audition. And now, the precious moment we are seeking is one where we help our students accept the fact that the audition process is subjective, and that the screeners can only go by what they hear. There is no way for the audition panel to truly grasp the how much each student desired to have this opportunity, nor can they understand how much we wanted it for them.  It’s important for all of us to remember that this snapshot of their vocal talent doesn’t define them. It’s a tough life lesson to learn.  I encourage you to find out how the All-State process works when it comes to “draft day.” It is a complex system that works to represent outstanding singers from the entire state of Minnesota.

I’m sure you recall the “Asks” from my fall MMEA update article pinned up on your bulletin – oh wait, I guess that’s just my mom!  The first was about nurturing students’ talents at the beginning of the year; I hope you did that! The second two were about your personal involvement.

Ask #2

Please reach out to me if you are interested in being a section coach. Our directors this year are Nicole Lamartine for the TTBB choir, Jennaya Robison for the SSAA choir, and Kelley Sundin for the SATB choir.  Let me know which choir you are interested in and the voice type you would like to lead. Ask anyone that has worked as a section coach and they will be able to tell you about the rewarding experience.

Ask  #3

Please let me know if you have any recommendations for future All-State conductors. This year’s selections were made by surveying previous All-State conductors and getting their recommendations for people in the circuit who have had great success directing honor choirs. Give me some names!

Well that is all. Time for me to get to work on my Precious Moments depiction of the Titanic. Look for photos next fall!