SCVA Newsletter (on-line version) - January 2012


Message from the President - Rodger Guerrero
Last year at this time, I posted a message featuring a “Choral Director’s New Year’s Resolution List.” I posted it in the choir room at my school and challenged students to email me theirs – if they wished. While only some followed through, the ones I received were incredibly honest and poignant. More importantly, I was afforded the honor of obtaining insight into the hearts and minds of a few students I teach. This alone was well worth the effort.

Students return to us what we genuinely offer them. How daringly honest and collaborative are we willing to be? The Harvard-Westlake Choral Program theme this year is: “A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are for” (John A. Shedd). Our objective has been to dare to explore and create and try and retry, etc. But if I am not willing to do these things, how can I expect my students to do them? So, once again, here are my Choral Director’s New Year’s Resolutions for 2012. Some are similar to the ones I posted last year. My students have received them and are already responding as you read:

  1. I resolve to treat every singer student as a human being first and promise to ask for and listen to their thoughts and ideas.
  2. I resolve to rehearse “with” them without continually talking “at” them.
  3. I resolve to empower them to actualize their inherent musicianship skills while rehearsing actual music.
  4. I resolve to enable the student singers to experience at least one beautiful musical moment each day.
  5. I resolve to adapt my teaching strategies and literature choices according to their needs.
  6. I resolve to exemplify the positive passion, commitment, dogged determination, and intellectualism I require from them.
  7. I resolve to truly listen to and learn as much from the student singers as they are required to listen to and learn from me.
  8. I resolve to seek new choral advocacy avenues and to share them with everyone I know.
  9. I resolve to trumpet the philosophy and activities of SCVA at every opportunity.
  10. I resolve to “find the journey’s end in every step” (Thanks Ralph Waldo Emerson!)

There is my list, for better or worse. How about yours? Once again, I would like to encourage all SCVA members to share theirs with me and other members as well.


JUNIOR HIGH HONOR CHOIR - Vanessa Ventre, VP-Junior High Honor Choir
Applications are already rolling in for the 2012 Junior High Honor Choir! Please tell your students that audition times and site location requests are on a first come first serve basis. Once the application fee has been received, students will be contacted with their audition site and audition time. Please note that the application deadline has been extended so that students have an ample amount of time to apply.

I am pleased to announce that our guest conductor is Joseph Modica. Mr. Modica is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Redlands and Director of Pastoral Music at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood, CA. He also conducted the Festival Choir at the Idyllwild Summer Arts Camp this past summer. His choirs have been selected to sing at numerous conferences and have toured such places as Italy, Australia, Hawaii, New York, and the Bahamas. In addition, his choirs have sung for Pope John Paul II and the current Pope. Mr. Modica clearly has a passion for teaching and inspiring young artists!

The Honor Choir is open to all 7th, 8th, and 9th graders as well as 6th graders in a middle school choral program. High school BOYS in 9th grade are especially encouraged to audition so we have a solid bass/baritone section. Of course boys with unchanged voices are also encouraged to audition. As its name implies, this is an HONOR CHOIR and we are looking for the best and brightest singers in Southern California who are responsible and dedicated. Last year, we had a great group with almost 90 singers and we hope to continue this tradition!

Auditions will be Saturday, January 14th and Saturday, January 21st. When students apply online, they will be prompted to select one of the audition dates and will request an audition site. Students will only be given an audition time once their application is cleared and fees have been received.

The Audition will include:
1. Sing a major scale up and down (a cappella).
*This can be sung on any vowel, solfege or syllable you normally use in choir

2. Sing a major triad and minor triad up and down (a cappella).
*This can be sung on any vowel, solfege or syllable you normally use in choir

3. Sing an octave (a cappella).
*This can be sung on any vowel, solfege or syllable you normally use in choir

4. Sight read one melodic and one rhythmic example.
*These will be separate examples. The melodic sight-reading will contain basic rhythm patterns while the rhythmic sight-reading will be more rhythmically comprehensive.

5. Sing tonal memory patterns.
*A melodic pattern will be played on the piano twice and the singer will be asked to sing the pattern back on whatever syllable they want.

6. Sing “America”/ “My Country Tis of Thee” (a cappella).
*The judges will use this to listen to tone and vocal capability. Students need only to sing the first verse, which should be memorized.
*In addition, it is always a good idea to dress professionally. There were some great tips in last month’s vocal solo competition article about auditioning; have your students read it over!

If accepted into the honor choir, students will need to attend the regional rehearsal Saturday, March 17th at either Mesa Robles Middle School, in Hacienda Heights or John Adams Middle School, in Santa Monica. You will be selecting which site you want within the application, so make sure you select the site closest to you. Our all day rehearsal with the clinician and concert will be April 28th at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica.

Before you apply please make sure that you have double, triple checked your calendar and can be at both the regional rehearsal and final rehearsal. Any student who makes it into the honor choir but does not come to the regional rehearsal, or misses any part of the final rehearsal, will not be able to participate in the honor choir and not be allowed to audition next year.

I am still in need of adjudicators for the honor choir auditions:
  Saturday January 14th at Mesa Robles Middle School in Hacienda Heights or Travis Ranch Middle School in Anaheim
  Saturday, January 21st at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica or Segerstrom High School in Santa Ana

Please contact me ASAP if you can help! Vanessa Ventre 310-393-9227 ext 73156


SCVA Honor Choir Weekend, November 18-19, 2011 - John Hendricks, VP - SCVA High School Honor Choirs
The SCVA High School Honor Choir event was a resounding success—a musical experience that our high school choral musicians will remember for a lifetime. 270 singers representing 76 schools converged on Santa Monica High School during the weekend of November 18 and 19 for two days of incredible music making, including a performance in the stunning Barnum Hall, a renowned Art Deco building with superb acoustics. The top choral students Southern California were treated to an inspiring set of rehearsals and a performance under the exhilarating direction of Dr. Cristian Grases (University of Southern California) for the 123-voice Mixed Honor Choir, Dr. Anna Hamre (California State University, Fresno) for the 80-member Women’s Honor Choir, and Mr. Randolph Stenson (St. Mary’s International School, Tokyo) for the 67-voice Men’s Honor Choir. From their first moment at Santa Monica, our students sought to build upon the musical foundation that they first experienced as members of these choirs several weeks earlier - at the rehearsals on October 29 at Irvine High School. The spirit of camaraderie amongst the vocalists and the response to the work of the students with the conductors was palpable and truly inspiring. The repertoire presented at the performance spanned centuries and cultural influences, and included a piece specifically written for the Men’s Honor Choir. More than one parent commented via e-mail about the weekend, “This was (my student’s) greatest experience ever.” Many thanks to Mr. Jeffe Huls and Santa Monica High School for hosting our choirs so superbly, and to Ms. Tina Peterson for so generously offering her facilities at Irvine High School and for her expertise as our SCVA Assistant VP for Senior Honor Choirs. And, of course, thank you to the many directors in our region who assisted their students in their preparation for their auditions and performances-- and as volunteers at our events in October and November. You are truly the heroes for our students and for SCVA. We look forward to seeing you at the next SCVA High School Honor Choir “weekend” on Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17, 2012.


ONLINE FESTIVAL REGISTRATION JUST A CLICK AWAY! - Jennifer Stanley, Festivals VP-I, and Maria Fritts, Festivals VP-II
WHY ATTEND A CHORAL FESTIVAL? As music educators, we are in a very unique position for assessment because of festivals. No other discipline allows teachers to have their students assessed by experts in their field and receive instant feedback. Choral directors who attend festivals have positive experiences with adjudicators who understand their teaching situations, and the adjudicators actively work to reinforce their teaching. Attending festivals is an excellent way to expose your students to great choral literature, and for them to see other students working on the same choral concepts you are teaching. Since it is a positive experience for everyone involved, make sure that you attend a choral festival this year! Many thanks to our volunteer festival hosts for hosting 52 SCVA festivals in 2012!

APPLY EARLY FOR BEST FESTIVAL AVAILABILITY. Festival availability is updated in real time. As soon as a festival is full, it is closed on the website. Each choir is limited to one festival per season; please do not bring more than two choirs to one festival. The registration deadline is March 1, 2012, and late registrations will not be accepted. Please check your school’s testing schedule and spring break when scheduling your festival. Please note the location of your festival so you can begin planning for transportation. We can’t process your registration unless you are a current member of SCVA; if your membership is not current, please purchase it online or add $45 to your check amount.

YOUR FESTIVAL REGISTRATION IS NOT COMPLETED UNTIL PAYMENT IS RECEIVED. Please note that the festival fee has increased to $85 this year. SCVA has not raised its festival fee in over 10 years, and this fee increase covers increases in festival operating expenses. We know this is a difficult time to raise fees, and we appreciate your understanding. When you apply online, you will receive an email confirming your initial registration. This email will include the amount due ($85 for MS/JHS and HS choirs) and you can use this email as an invoice to request a school check. The fastest way to guarantee your registration is to use PayPal on the SCVA website. IF PAYMENT IS NOT RECEIVED WITHIN 30 DAYS OF YOUR INITIAL REGISTRATION, YOUR REGISTRATION WILL BE CANCELLED.

For more information, contact Jennifer Stanley at or (626) 258-5292 or contact Maria Fritts at or (951) 926-6776.

BYORD (Bring Your Own Recording Device). We will continue with BYORD for the 2012 SCVA Festivals. While we did experience a few “technical difficulties” last year, BYORD allows recorded adjudicator comments to be provided to the director in any audio format the director desires, and the audio files are available immediately at the end of the festival. If you do not bring a recording device to your festival, you will receive two written adjudications. Some festival hosts may choose to provide digital recordings of adjudicator comments, but if your festival host does not, then plan to bring your own recording device. There are MANY devices that can serve this purpose, please email us if you need more information.

12,152 STUDENTS ATTENDED AN SCVA FESTIVAL LAST YEAR!! Thank you to the 166 SCVA members who took 352 choirs to 50 SCVA festivals in 2011! SCVA was founded in 1939 as a choral festival organization, and providing high quality and affordable choral festivals remains central to our purpose. We are committed to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the festival process, and we truly appreciate your continued support of SCVA festivals!

Register now for your 2012 festival at!


SCVA Vocal Jazz Festival - Christine Tavares, VP, Jazz Choirs
Through the many SCVA festivals, conventions, and in-services I have attended with SCVA, I’ve learned that some of my fellow friends who are choir directors have a certain fear of a type of genre...JAZZ. Many directors feel if they did not study jazz in high school or their undergraduate degree, they should not teach jazz. In fact, they are afraid to even approach it with their students because they do not know where to start. When I first started teaching jazz, I did not understand jazz styling or placement of the tone. The only way I learned those things was to go to festivals and get critiqued.

Here is the secret:

The first step to teaching jazz is to START. Pick some charts and take your students to a festival and watch your program grow. Below are sites where you can order music and start your journey. As next year approaches, please consider bringing your students to a non-competitive jazz festival, the SCVA Vocal Jazz Festival. We are accepting 3 more schools to work with our great adjudicators, Angie Doctor and Jeremy Fox. Each adjudication includes a 30 minute slot time of performance and clinic on stage. The evening will end with the Grammy Nominated Vocal Jazz Group “The Bobs.” For more information, see next page.

Please do not hesitate to email me at if you have any questions. I will be more than happy to help in any way I can!

Here’s to a great year of music making!

In case you are looking for repertoire for jazz from beginning to advanced, here are some sites worth considering:

Sound Music Publishing 
UNC Jazz Press 
A-cappella Publishing
Michele Weir (arranger)
JW Pepper 
Matt Falker (arranger) 
Jeremy Fox (arranger) 
Kerry Marsh (arranger) 

SCVA is proud to announce “THE BOBS”, Tuesday March 6th, 2012 SCVA VOCAL JAZZ FESTIVAL

On Tuesday March 6th, 2012, the Grammy nominated group, “The Bobs” will close the Southern California Vocal Jazz Festival! (

Sign up for the festival now at and purchase tickets for the evening concert! For more information, email 

SCVA Vocal Jazz Festival Adjudicators Angie Doctor & Jeremy Fox

Angie Doctor
A studio singer and live performer who began her career in Chicago doing commercials, voice-overs and recording projects, Angie has been a part of the San Francisco Bay Area vocal music community since 1995. Angie is a song-writer and arranger, vocal coach and clinician for school music ensembles and solo singers, background singer for groups such as The Manhattans, Heatwave, Gene Chandler, Barbara Lewis, Billy Paul, and many others, studio singer and voice-over talent and is the soprano in Clockwork. In addition, she has been singer and soloist for music projects with Sufjan Stevens, Sweet Honey in the Rock, John Zorn, Meredith Monk, performing at venues that include Zellerbach in Berkeley, Carnegie Hall and the Philharmonie Berlin; and most recently having performed with Bobby McFerrin in performances of his most recent recording “VOCAbuLarieS” in San Francisco and at Lincoln Center. She is the newest member of “The Bobs”. 

Jeremy Fox
Jeremy has received 9 awards from Downbeat magazine, including ones for: Jazz Song, Jazz Arrangement, Studio Engineering, and for his vocal jazz groups. Jeremy has several charts published with UNC Jazz Press, Sound Music Publications, and his own publishing company, Foxtrot Publishing. He is active as a festival/group clinician, and has served as guest conductor of All-State ensembles in Colorado, Arizona, and Wisconsin and in February 2012, California. This summer he directed the 8th Annual SMV Vocal Jazz Camps around the United States and Canada ( He also co-conducts a weeklong intensive workshop each summer designed especially for choral directors called the Jazz Theory Boot Camp. (,

Announcing the California 2012 All State Honor Jazz Choir!
Congratulations to these students and their teachers who will be representing California in the 2012 CMEA/CBDA music convention!




Emily Gates

San Marin High School




Curtis Gaesser

Folsom High School




Mark Peabody

Marin School of the Arts




Christine Tavares

Valencia High School




Christine Tavares

Valencia High School




Duane Otani

Rancho Bernardo High School




Alissa Aune

Bear River High School




Curtis Gaesser

Folsom High School




Richard Mynderup

Kingsburg High School




Brian Dokko

Polytechnic High School




Brian Dokko

Polytechnic High School




Jill DeWeese

Fullerton Union High School


Other Important Information
On-Line SCVA Membership Application
Calendar of Events