SCVA Newsletter (on-line version) - October 2006


Message from the President - Mark Henson, President
A Time of Opportunities

What an exciting first meeting of the SCVA Executive Board we had a few weeks ago! Our board members are filled with energy as we begin our season together.  A  big thanks goes to Dave and Ed at JW Pepper for allowing us meet at the Pepper store in Santa Fe Springs.  (How practical!)  I’ve received numerous emails from our members filled with excitement about the year ahead. From what I’ve heard, numbers and hopes seem to be high this year!

As choral directors, we somehow manage to remain optimistic even in the midst of scheduling constraints, rising costs, and ever-increasing, seemingly endless testing, testing, and more testing.  We can still find that wonderful piece that our singers just love.  We can discover a new sight singing book that gives us fresh ideas about teaching musicianship.  We share in the joy of a student who is having his first experience in a choral group – and loves it!  These are the things that seem to keep us coming back year after year.

In the length of time I’ve been associated with SCVA, it has been my pleasure to see the growth of our organization.  We now have three high school honor choirs where there was previously only one.  Our Vocal Solo Competition continues to inspire fine singers to perform quality literature.  Our Young Men’s Clinic has seen immense growth over the last several years with hundreds of singers participating each year.  This year we begin a similar event for women’s voices which is sure to be equally successful.  Our spring choral festivals are attended by more and more choirs each year.  Our Show Choir Competition has over thirty participating groups per year.  The Vocal Jazz Festival has developed into a Festival/Workshop/Concert event with well-known guest artists.  We have much to be proud of!

When we gather together for the Fall In-service on October 27, we will have a wonderful opportunity to share our enthusiasm for the choral art and to pass our excitement on to those who are new to the profession.  If you know of a new director in your area, make sure to extend an invitation to join our association and to participate in SCVA events. Networking is often the key to discovering what works and what may work even better. I look forward to seeing many of you at the In-service!


Fall In-Service - Grace Sheldon-Williams, Past-President
It’s not too late to sign up for the Fall In-Service Workshop, Friday, October 27, from 9 AM – 3:30 PM!

This year’s location is:
  First Presbyterian Church Monrovia
  101 East Foothill Blvd.
  Monrovia, CA

Exit the 210 Freeway at Myrtle Ave. and go north.  The church is on the corner of Myrtle Ave. & Foothill Blvd.

Our outstanding presenters include:
 - Jonathan Talberg (Cal State Long Beach):  Workshop Headliner
 - Karen Garrett (Santiago HS):  Sight-singing, Solfege and the Standards
 - Margie Brodeur (Earhart MS):  Middle School Repertoire and Other Relevant Stuff
 - Jill DeWeese (Fullerton Academy of the Arts):  Introduction to Vocal Jazz

The Fall In-Service will also feature the bi-annual SCVA Adjudicator Certification Workshop.  If you are interested in becoming a festival adjudicator, you must go through this process.  The stellar demonstration choirs for the workshop are Charlotte Smurthwaite’s Wilson Middle School 8th Grade Treble Choir and Brenda Mohr’s Glendale Adventist Academy Chorale.

There is NO BETTER PLACE to network with each other, attend inspiring and idea-filled interest sessions, and hear such outstanding choirs.  INVITE YOUR COLLEAGUES!!

Fall In-Service Registration Form


Hosting a Festival is a Great Experience! - Jennifer Stanley, VP of High School Festivals & Maria Fritts, VP of JH/MS Festivals

"Hosting a festival is so easy, I don't know why I didn't do it sooner!"
            Joel Whisler, El Monte HS Choral Director

It is never too early to start planning for festival season!  We have been working to make the festival process easier for everyone, especially festival hosts.  Whether you are the director of an elementary, middle school or high school choir, there are many reasons to consider hosting a festival:

- The registration form is easy.
- You get free festival registration for one of your choirs at each festival you host.
- You don't have to get a bus to go to festival.
- You provide schools in your area a quality performance opportunity.
- You and your students get to see other choirs and hear quality literature.
- Your students have the comfort and familiarity of performing in their regular auditorium (home court advantage!).
- Students enjoy the responsibility of assisting in the running of the festival.
- You get excellent networking opportunities with other directors in the festival, and with the adjudicators.

SCVA will provide for each festival host

- A list of participating choirs with contact information for each director
- Plaques delivered to your school for each participating ensemble
- Certified adjudicators scheduled for each festival by SCVA

A regular festival has eight participating choirs and two adjudicators. One adjudicator tapes his/her comments, and the other writes comments on the score sheet.  Both adjudicators' scores are averaged to determine the rating (if desired by each director).  If you would like to host a clinic festival, please indicate that on your form; a clinic festival has a maximum of six participating choirs and one adjudicator.  After each choir performs, the adjudicator works with the ensemble onstage.  SCVA may convert a regular festival to a clinic festival if there is low enrollment.

If you are interested in hosting an ELEMENTARY FESTIVAL, or if you have questions about elementary festivals, please email Jennifer Stanley!

Festival Host Application Form


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, October 14, 2006 - Inland Empire Vocal Jazz Festival at Upland H.S (non-competitive), Upland, CA
Fri-Sat, November 3-4, 2006 - Cuesta College Vocal Jazz Workshop (non-competitive), San Luis Obispo, CA
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


Vocal Solo Competition - Robert Riddle, 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


HONOR CHOIRS NEED YOUR HELP! - Rich Brunner, VP/High School Honor Choirs
Approximately 250 students will be descending on Crescenta Valley High School for the High School Honor Choirs rehearsal on Saturday, October 28th.   And on November 17th and 18th, Honor Choir Weekend, they will gather at Santa Monica High School for two days of intense rehearsal which will culminate in a spectacular SCVA Honor Choirs Concert on Saturday evening.  With them they will bring over 500 or more parents and siblings and another 100 or so friends and classmates. 

Working with and managing the 3 choirs during the rehearsal process 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.  We need a great deal of help on both these weekends.  Rodger and I so much appreciate all the help teachers gave us with the adjudication process and we don’t want to overtax your goodwill.  But to those of you who had students audition for the Honor Choirs (even if they didn’t make it)…HELP!  If it’s only for an hour or so, we need you.  It’s not glamorous work (and some of it isn’t pretty) but it all needs to get done.

And for those of you who have students who made it into one of the choirs, come on!  Be thankful they made it in, show them how much it means to you that they are there, and contact me or Rodger and ask how you can help! Please give us some of your time.

Dr. Rich Brunner:
Rodger Guerrero:

Thank you so much, in advance!


CALL FOR NEW ADJUDICATORS! - Christinna Hall, Executive Vice President

It’s time for all vocal music teachers who would like to be an adjudicator for SCVA festivals to register for the SCVA Fall In-Service. There will be a session on adjudication with two demonstration choirs. Even if you are not ready to adjudicate, come and learn what festival adjudicators are looking for in a choral group.


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!


Men’s and Women’s Festivals 2007 - Ron Soderwall, VP Men’s Clinic and Mark Freedkin, Clinic Director
Have you placed the Men’s and Women’s Clinic dates on your calendar yet?  Are your male and female singers going to miss being a part of this musical event? 

Diva Day!! - Young Women’s Harmony Festival   Saturday, February 3, 2007
Divo Day!! - Young Men’s Harmony Festival   Saturday, February 17, 2007

All of the details plus application forms will be available in the November SCVA Newsletter. Save the dates and keep your eyes “peeled” for more details!!!!


PayPal Update - Mark Freedkin, SCVA Webmaster
Just a reminder that the PayPal interface on our website allows you to pay for SCVA events (such as membership renewals or festival registrations) using a personal credit card instead of obtaining a school check or money order. Simply click on the "Buy Now" button for the item you wish to purchase on the "e-Payments" page and enter your name, email address, credit card account number and expiration date. In addition, enter the event-specific information (such as "School Name and Choir Name") at the bottom of that page. Upon completing the transaction, your credit card will be charged and you will receive an e-mail message confirming your payment. Just print out that e-mail message and include it with your application.  You don't need to have your own PayPal account to use this interface.


Other Important Information
SCVA Membership Application