SCVA Newsletter (on-line version) - October 2011


Message from the President - Rodger Guerrero
Did you know that thanks to improved technological brain imaging techniques, neuroscientists can now identify the neural sources for many cognitive operations? Were you aware that neuroscientists are particularly interested in mapping hemispheric lateralization specific to cognitive actions which occur during music-making? They have discovered that the complex and holistic process of singing necessitates bilateral brain initiation of the frontal and temporal cortex and supplementary motor area. Do you know what else? Other recent neurological studies have confirmed that music preparation and performance facilitate neural plasticity which involves the phenomenal capacity of the nervous system to change. Thus music training (especially when commenced at a young age) may alter neuronal arrangement and impact brain development. Most importantly, this structural modification is “use-dependent.” The more consistent and long-term the training is the more significant and long-lasting the changes may be.

Were you aware that the autonomous nervous system, which acutely influences immune functions, may also benefit from choral music performance? In multiple studies which analyzed the effects of singing on the endocrine system, increased levels of secretory immunoglobulin A proteins (S-IgA) were reported in subjects participating in choral rehearsals and performances. Decreased Cortisol levels in choral rehearsals were similarly recorded. According to scientists, increased S-IgA levels indicated positive emotional affect as well as augmented immune proficiency. Reduced Cortisol levels signify that singers experienced diminished stress levels during rehearsals. While no studies have attempted to analyze the long-term effects of these immune system alterations, it just may be that singers enjoy longer, stress-reduced lives.

While advocacy strategies contain plenty of anecdotal evidence which describes the positive impact music makes upon humankind, I believe that it is imperative to reinforce these experiential stories with scientific fact. The 2009 Chorus America-sponsored, empirical Chorus Impact Study does a marvelous job of linking the perceived success of youth to their participation in choir. According to this comprehensive report, Choirboys and Choirgirls do seem to study harder, achieve higher grades, more easily interact, and more consistently serve their communities than their non-singing peers. Yet in order to attain a more balanced and effective approach to choral advocacy, anecdotal surveys like this must be interwoven with Neuroscientific research. We know that singing changes lives – we feel it with every ounce of our beings. But now increasing bio-psychological research confirms it. Isn’t time we started using it?


Fall In-Service - Sheri Nelson, Past President

Join us for the annual SCVA Fall In-Service on Friday, October 21, 2011. This year’s workshop will include our Adjudicators Clinic. We will walk you through the thought process of an adjudicator before we hear Parks Junior High School, directed by Melissa Martinez, and the Orange High Chamber Singers, directed by Mike Short. This workshop is the first step for those who wish to become an SCVA Adjudicator. It is also a great opportunity for all of us, even if we don’t wish to be an adjudicator, to hear two outstanding ensembles.
Other interest sessions include:

Choral Warm-Ups: Are you Creating or Solving the Problem? (Dr. Jayne Campbell ) Topics include: Isometric/isotonic warm-ups, pentamerous piano accompaniment, working with overtones, the jaw and the palate: one size does not fit all, Alexander-technique methodology, what sound icons and expectations do your singers bring to the rehearsal?

Engaging Choirs Of All Ages: Strategies for increasing singer interest, reducing boredom, and fostering fun and artistry (Dr. Chris Peterson) Topics will include: Ways to turn off “autopilot”, multi-modal instruction, creating functional approval and disapproval ratios, dynamic pacing, and honing a positive approach to teaching.

Arts Advocacy (Patricia Wayne) Topics will include: best practices for effective advocacy for arts education, the model that is working around the state guided by CAAE, and how the issue is being framed for maximum impact in Orange County and the results we are experiencing.

Reading Session (Dr. Jayne Campbell)

The venue for the day will again be the Placentia Presbyterian Church located at 849 N. Bradford Ave. in Placentia. The In-Service will officially begin at 9am but please arrive at 8:30 for registration and a continental breakfast.

$45 Early Registration (before October 7th)
$55 Late/Walk-on Registration (reading session packet cannot be guaranteed)
$10 Collegiate Membership Registration

Fall In-Service Application


Young Women's and Young Men's Harmony Festivals - Mark Freedkin, VP of Barbershop Harmony Festivals
We are pleased to invite you to this year's Barbershop Harmony Festivals for Young Women and Young Men. Both events will be held at the Robert B. Moore Theater on the campus of Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. The 7th annual "Diva Day" Young Women in Harmony Festival, sponsored by the Harborlites Chorus, will be held on Saturday, February 4, and the 12th annual "Young Men's Harmony Festival" will be held on Saturday, February 18, sponsored by the Masters of Harmony. Both of these events will provide a unique musical opportunity for your singers and will provide a positive boost to your choral music program.

Each event will consist of morning and afternoon clinics and rehearsals, followed by a public performance in the evening with the respective adult choruses. There will also be a clinic for music educators who would like to participate in a hands-on demonstration of how the barbershop style is taught and how it can be used to attract more young men and women into your program.

The early application fee is only $20 per singer for applications that are submitted by November 11. After November 11, the application is fee $25 per singer. The sponsoring choruses will cover the remaining costs for all sheet music, practice CDs, rehearsal facilities, guest clinicians and performance costumes. Each singer will receive a commemorative t-shirt. We will also provide lunch and dinner for the singers, choral directors and any adult chaperones accompanying the singers.

Please download and print the appropriate application forms from the SCVA website. Complete and return the applications and forms, along with payment by cash, check or money order payable to Harborlites (for Diva Day) or Masters of Harmony (for the Young Men's Festival). Each event is limited to 250 participants, so be sure to submit your applications early. Note that these festivals are separate events, and you must send the appropriate forms and payments to the proper recipient.

Young Women's Festival Only:
In order to accommodate more schools, we are limiting the number of singers per school to twelve (12). Ideally we suggest 1-2 tenors, 3-4 leads, 2-3 baritones and 3-4 basses. This will allow you to perform the music as a group and use this group to help your other students learn the joy of singing four-part harmony, barbershop style. Send applications for all students you wish to participate, indicating those students beyond the initial 12 that you wish to put on the Waiting List. We will try to accommodate as many as we can.

Young Men's Festival Only:
There is no limit to the number of singers from your school who wish to participate, but please submit your applications early to ensure that all of your singers can be accommodated.

We look forward to receiving your applications. Please contact us if you have any questions about our festivals.

Diva Day (Young Women's Festival)
Karen Ridout
Harborlites Chorus
Home: (714) 847-0787
Cell: (714) 319-2325
Young Men's Harmony Festival
Mark Freedkin
Masters of Harmony
Home: (949) 559-9621
Cell: (714) 357-1187


WEBSITE UPDATE - Mark Freedkin, SCVA Webmaster
Over 570 high school singers used our website to submit their Honor Choir Audition Applications. With very few exceptions, everything worked very smoothly. Of course, there were a few students who didn’t enter their director’s or their own e-mail address accurately, and all of those applications were automatically routed to me for manual correction. There were also a few directors whose students used more than one e-mail address for their director, which also required some manual correction by me. Using a single e-mail address allows you to see a complete list of all your singers on the Approve/Reject page.

As a new feature for this year, we added the payment status for the Audition Application Fee to the Approve/Reject page, so you can verify that all of your singers have paid.

As we continue to automate our application processes, we would appreciate everyone’s help in ensuring that e-mail addresses are entered accurately, and that directors only use a single e-mail address that will not be blocked.


VOCAL SOLO COMPETITION - Jeffe Huls - VP, Vocal Solo Competition

The solo art song in the choral rehearsal 

If you're like me, every June you go home from school promising yourself that you will pick music over the summer, do lot's of score study, plan out at least a month's worth of lessons, etc. Then reality sets in and it is suddenly time for school to start and you are no further along than when you started. Sometimes, I actually get a few things chosen then come back to school to find that my ensembles aren't as I left them. Scheduling has wrecked havoc, my star tenor is suddenly a basso profundo, and my mezzo soloist has moved to Florida. I'm sure that either one of these scenarios can be multiplied many times over across our southland choral programs and beyond. A couple of years ago, I received some great advice from our colleague Tammi Alderman who used to begin her school year with solo repertoire. She used this as a great segue to prepare students for the solo audition part of their honor choir audition: tah dah, every student has a solo ready to go. I began doing this a number of years ago and stopped beating myself up about repertoire over the summer. Select solo repertoire from the 26 Italian Art Song book (they are all great), spend your first couple of weeks reacquainting yourself with your ensembles and buy yourself the time to make the good decisions about quality choral repertoire that is appropriate to your ensemble.

I realize that this is " too little, too late" for all of us this year. But it certainly isn't too late to have a unit of solo repertoire. And you would be preparing your students for the upcoming SCVA solo competition. 

Solo repertoire preparation is an excellent way to teach tone, vocal production, pure vowel structure, phrasing, and many more aspects of good singing. I begin using solfeggio, then move to a neutral vowel using [lu] or [di] depending on the style and the vocal demands of the piece. Once the vowel is clean, in place, and balanced throughout I then take the opportunity to teach IPA.

Solo repertoire also presents a great opportunity to solidify solfeggio. Most of the movement is stepwise with a basic rhythmic structure and will help push your students towards becoming better readers. I usually spend a day or two (depending on the level of the students) teaching the skips using flash cards. I then give them a small sheet of paper with the basic tonal structure printed out (no rhythm just the note heads), it looks a little like Gregorian chant. We then identify the skips together and put a box around them. This helps them see that the "tricky" parts are minimal and most of the motion is stepwise and simple. Of course, they already know the skips from the flash cards and we spend some time singing through the song in this chant format, giving every note one beat. I use the same (flash card) approach to teach accidentals. Simultaneously, I have identified all the rhythms necessary in the piece and have transferred any of the rhythms with which they may be unfamiliar to flash cards. I think you will also find that most of the pieces are not rhythmically complex and consist of a very small number of rhythmic patterns. I really like using the flash cards (one measure per card, usually) because it allows me to vary the order and really check for understanding rather than rote memorization of patterns.

The final step is marrying the tonal knowledge with the rhythmic knowledge. This represents the most difficult aspects of music literacy, but with practice students get better and better. I typically will have the students chant the rhythm of a measure and then slowly try to sing the solfeggio with the rhythm, putting it together measure by measure. Taking some advice from Rob Istad from ECCO this summer, I have also found it great to start at the end of a section or of the piece and work backwards, solidifying previously learned information with each new step backwards.

I think you will find that the experience of expanding your repertoire with solo literature will be a rewarding experience. I have even known a number of teachers, especially at the middle school level, who have programmed the piece on the concert with their entire choir. We all know the value of learning to sing a beautiful, pure, and controlled unison.

As for the solo vocal competition, I am planning on keeping everything pretty much the same as in previous years. Rich Brunner did a great job with organizing last year and has handed me a "well-oiled" machine (so to speak). However, as we press forward, SCVA is looking at new ways to expand and change the competition to better serve choral musicians in our schools in the years to come. Keep an eye on the website and newsletter for important dates and deadlines as they become available.

December 10, 2011 - online applications due
January 21, 2012 - Preliminary competition, various sites
TBD - Semi-Final/Final competition


Host an SCVA Choral Festival! Register Online Today!!
Jennifer Stanley, VP of High School Festivals
Maria Fritts, VP of Junior High & Middle School Festivals

"I love SCVA festivals. They are always professional, appropriate--and affordable. Thank you for providing such wonderful festival experiences." 
-Janice Hague, Sycamore Canyon Middle School

10. It's easy to register a festival ONLINE at SCVACHORAL.ORG - register by November 1.
  9. You get FREE festival registration for one of your choirs at each festival you host.
  8. You get excellent networking opportunities with other directors and adjudicators.
  7. Your students have the familiarity of performing in their regular venue (home court advantage!)
  6. SCVA enrolls choirs in your festival and gives you contact information for each director.
  5. SCVA provides all forms and plaques needed to run the festival.
  4. SCVA schedules certified adjudicators for your festival.
  3. You don't have to get a bus to go to festival.
  2. You can choose the date that works best for you, and set the date on your calendar NOW!
  1. You provide an opportunity for many students to see other choirs and hear quality repertoire.

Submit your festival host registration at SCVACHORAL.ORG - deadline is November 1, 2011. 

If you are interested in hosting an ELEMENTARY FESTIVAL, or if you have questions about elementary festivals, please email Maria Fritts.

Please contact us with questions you have!
Jennifer Stanley -
Maria Fritts -

Festival Host Application


HONOR CHOIRS NEED YOUR HELP! - John Hendricks, VP - High School Honor Choirs
Approximately 270 students will arrive at Irvine High School on the morning of Saturday, October 29th for their first rehearsal as a member of the SCVA Men’s, Women’s or Mixed High School Honor Choirs. Then, on November 18th and 19th, they will once again converge at Santa Monica High School for the Honor Choir rehearsals and performance under the direction of Dr. Cristian Grases (Mixed Honor Choir), Dr. Anna Hamre (Women’s Honor Choir), or Mr. Randy Stenson (Men’s Honor Choir). The concert, on Saturday, November 20 at 7:30 p.m., will likely be sublime—and is certain to be very well attended. The conductors have chosen exhilarating literature for our students, and we are particularly excited about what the honor choir “experience” promises to be for our musicians. We strongly encourage you, your students, and all choral music fans in Southern California to attend this unforgettable performance in the exceptional and historic Barnum Hall at Santa Monica High School.

As you might imagine, the logistics involved in coordinating these events are complex, and we really need your help. Tina Peterson (our VP II of High School Honor Choirs) and I deeply appreciate all of the time, efforts, and expertise our colleagues so generously gave as adjudicators and site hosts during the audition process. To everyone who has students involved in our honor choirs, we would enthusiastically welcome your assistance in October and November, even if it’s only for an hour or so. It is not glamorous work, but helping with the events is a great way to serve, meet friendly and interesting people, and truly make a difference in the experience of our students. We need assistance with registration, ticket selling, running errands during the day, and coordinating logistics at the venues during the rehearsals and performance. And, while you’re with us, we would strongly encourage you to also watch some of the rehearsals. They are truly fascinating and inspiring!

We particularly look forward to accepting help from directors whose students auditioned successfully for one or more of the choirs. I speak from experience that this simple form of volunteering can reap wonderful and unexpected rewards, as I met some of my dearest friends as a result of volunteering at an SCVA Honor Choir event in 2006. Volunteering is a great way to become more involved in the Southern California choral community. And above all, let’s do this “right thing” for our students!

Please contact me at to volunteer. Tina and I look forward to seeing you in October and November!


NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF SHOW CHOIR - Patty Breitag, VP - Show Choir
Show choir in Southern California is unique in many ways. We have a competition circuit that starts the first weekend of February and continues every weekend until the last weekend of April. Each week, a different high school hosts a competition that can be one division or many divisions. All schools that are “into” the competition spirit compete every week against the same schools (very much similar to conference athletics). In doing so, they support the programs of each host school and at the same time have a chance to watch and hear the growth and improvement of each school. Some of the more advanced choirs use the competition circuit to practice for National Competitions that are held throughout the United States including: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, Hawaii, San Antonio, Orlando and many other mid-west cities. California schools can boast that they win National competitions yearly and often times are the envy of the country. But the Mid-west groups have amazing groups as well so the competition spirit between California and the Mid-west is high-spirited and very competitive. 

Last spring the SCVA Show Choir Competition was held at Citrus College Haugh Auditorium. The competition was adjudicated by three of the best show choir judges in the area: John Wilson, Tom Kessler and Roger Duffer. Every school took home a trophy with written adjudication along with a Musicianship skills plaque and a Showmanship plaque.

Middle School Women

1st place – Black Mountain High School
2nd place – Slauson Middle School
3rd place – Southpointe Middle School
Middle School Mixed 1st place – Southpointe Middle School
Novice Women 1st place - Mark Keppel High School
2nd place – Eisenhower High School
3rd place – Gladstone High School
4th place – Carter High School
5th place – Apple Valley High School
Novice Mixed 1st place – Gladstone High School
2nd place – Eisenhower High School
3rd place – Diamond Bar High School
4th place – Granada Hills High School
Intermediate Mixed 1st place – Mark Keppel High School
2nd place – Apple Valley High School

Information for the 2012 SCVA Competition will be sent out soon. The projected date is May 5th, 2012.


Junior High Honor Choir - Vanessa Ventre, VP-Junior High Honor Choir

Dear Colleagues, Students, and Parents,

The Southern California Vocal Association (SCVA) has been hosting the Junior High Honor Choir for a number of years. Membership in this prestigious choir is open to students who are enrolled in their school choir and are currently in 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th grade. High school BOYS in 9th grade are especially needed for a solid bass/baritone section. 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.

Our guest conductor, Mr. Joseph 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!


Membership in the Junior High Honor Choir is based on a successful audition. Singers must be able to demonstrate that they can perform the following:

1. Sing a major scale up and down (a cappella)
2. Sing a major triad and a minor triad (a cappella)
3. Sing an octave (a cappella)
4. Sight read one melodic and one rhythmic example
5. Sing tonal memory patterns
6. Sing “America” / “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” (a cappella)

You will need to go onto the website to fill out the honor choir application and register for an audition. There is a $5 audition fee. The easiest way to pay is using PayPal, through our website, but you can also pay with a school booster check or money order. NO personal checks will be accepted!

Registration and payment must be completed and received by midnight January 6th. The web application will close itself automatically, so please make sure you register early. Audition assignments (location and times) will be posted on the website by January 14th.

Saturday, Januray 14, 2012
Saturday, January 21, 2012

I am in need of host sites for our audition dates. Please let me know if you can help!

Audition results will be posted on the SCVA website by JANUARY 27. Please note that there will be a $45 PARTICIPATION FEE to help pay for music, the conductor, accompanist, and other expenses.

PARENTS: We have made every attempt to make the Honor Choir rehearsals as “driver friendly” as possible. This year there will be only TWO rehearsals and one of them should be close to your area. We depend on your commitment to these two rehearsals so that we are able to have a successful performance.


SATURDAY March 10 
SATURDAY March 17 


You MUST also attend the all-day rehearsal on APRIL 28th. The Honor Choir Concert is at 6pm that evening. Both the all-day rehearsal and performance will be held at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica. Students will be asked to bring a SACK LUNCH from home that day. SCVA will host DINNER and snacks for the singers.

STUDENTS: If chosen for the SCVA Junior High Honor Choir, I agree to:
1. Attend and be on time for ONE Regional Rehearsal
2. Attend and be on time for the April 30th Rehearsal with Mr. Joe Modica
3. Be fully prepared with my music MEMORIZED for the April 28th rehearsal
4. Be polite and respectful toward everyone associated with the Honor Choir

If you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Vanessa Ventre

(310) 393-9227 ext 73156


SCVA Vocal Jazz Festival Christine Tavares, VP, Jazz Choirs
Hello Choral Directors! Welcome back from summer break! I hope that you all are off to a great start and getting into the “swing” of things! My name is Christine Tavares and I am your SCVA jazz representative! There are many festivals for our jazz students to attend so I’m hoping you’ll consider our very own SCVA adjudicated festival! This is a great festival for beginning to advanced groups. Choral directors have the option of getting an on-stage critique which benefits the group and the audience members. This is a non-scored friendly festival. We encourage all groups to come and support every group for the love of jazz! We will finish the evening off with a surprise guest group (more on that in next month’s newsletter). We are limited to 10 vocal jazz groups, so if you are interested, please sign up early on our website or through snail mail. Please email me if you’d like more information or have any questions!

This just in!

We are very excited to have Jeremy Fox as one of our adjudicator’s for the SCVA March 6th Vocal Jazz Festival! 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. Jeremy is also active as a festival/group clinician, and has served as guest conductor of All-State ensembles in Colorado, Arizona, and Wisconsin and this year will be California’s own All State Jazz Director.

Jazz Festival Application


Other Important Information
On-Line SCVA Membership Application (not required for students who are auditioning for Honor Choirs)
On-Line Festival Host Application
Calendar of Events