SCVA Newsletter (on-line version) - December 2011


Message from the President - Rodger Guerrero
During the past 25 years of my choral conducting career, public discussions (arguments, if you will) concerning the “Product vs. Process” aspect of the choral experience have been innumerable. The usually transparent, black-and-white nature of the dialogue has always confounded me, for I envision Product and Process to be perpetually intertwined. This belief pervades every facet of my teaching philosophy. Consider the following bilateral position as excerpted from a recent Philosophical Foundations of Music Education assignment at USC:

In choral music, the Product is a fundamental component and “by-product” of the Process. It exists as the individual musical works to be performed as well as the performance itself. The Product contributes to the motivational excitement of the rehearsal Process and provides a long-term goal for which choral artists cognitively, emotionally, and creatively prepare. As student singers apply procedural, formal, informal, impressionistic, and supervisory knowledge to the musical works they rehearse, the Product of their efforts becomes imbued with energy and life. As choral students creatively analyze and apply, strategically plan and coordinate, and develop their intellectual listening skills, the Product of their learning metamorphoses into vibrant musical interpretation. When they perform their collective creation in front of a culturally-informed audience that understands the tradition-specific patterns associated with choral music, the Products of their learning Process permeate with wisdom and profound awareness. The performance Product moves and influences a knowledgeable audience of humans who resultantly feel connected to the Process of the choral art.

In choral music, the Process is a fundamental component and “by-product” of the Product. It exists as a succession of rehearsals leading up to a concert, the performance itself, and a post-performance review and critique. A choral composition breathes and lives in the manner in which it has been presented and absorbed. The careful selection of choral works to be rehearsed and performed plays a huge role in determining the character of the Process. Choral educators who possess extraordinary musicianship levels intuitively understand how to balance challenge with reward. They know that the appropriate selection of choral works requires an acute understanding of how to match musical and expressive element requirements with the perceived musical intellect levels of their students. They realize that their students must acquire formal historic and cultural background in order to effectively communicate a musical work’s expressive components. The compositional and contextual character of a composition as well as the skill set required in order to effectively present the work will determine the nature and succession of rehearsals utilized to learn it.

Yet the environment and personality of the rehearsals can completely transform the disposition and interpretation of a musical work. Musically intelligent and experienced choral conductors know well that musical works become vibrant when their student performers are empowered to formulate plans, decide upon rehearsal strategies, and assess progress and rehearsal direction. A student’s effective communication of Product components will guide and inspire them throughout a joyous, life-long Process of choral music-making.

In my estimation, Product and Process are equal and interchangeable aspects of a comprehensive approach to choral music education. Product and Process interact with and depend upon each other. To me, they are inseparable. One cannot and should not exist without the other.

This bilateral philosophy is just one choral music educator’s approach. What’s yours? Feel free to email me at in order to express your thoughts. It might spark the kind of forward-thinking discussion we choral conductors should continue to have.


"OMG – I GOT MAD AUDITION SKILLS!!" - Jeffe Huls, VP - Vocal Solo Competition

Over the course of many years I have compiled a great list of advice about auditioning and performing from great voice teachers, college admissions panels, musical theatre directors and vocal competition judges (take special note of that last one). I apologize in advance because I probably stole many of these ideas from all of you. I think it is a great list that you can share with your students as they prepare for the upcoming SCVA Vocal Solo Competition (hint, hint), college auditions, the school musical or auditioning for a more advanced choral ensemble.

Auditions 101: Hints and Sage Advice to be your best

  1. Treat this as a job interview. Dress professionally and conservatively. You want the judges to concentrate on your voice and not on trying to figure out why you wore flip flops and ripped jeans to an audition. Wear shoes you can comfortably sing and walk in. If you don't regularly practice in five-inch heels you won't be comfortable wearing them in your performance and won't be at your best.
  2. Always be prepared. Know what the requirements are and make sure you have met them. If the panel is asking for one Italian piece and one English piece do not assume that a German and French piece will also meet that requirement. On the same note, if you are preparing a sixteen-bar excerpt for a musical theatre audition, the judges understand that sometimes that means 12 measures and sometimes that means 20 depending on the excerpt. But it never means 30+ measures.
  3. Choose music that is appropriate, that you love, and that showcases the best aspects of your voice.
  4. If you are allowed to pick which piece you would like to sing, always start with your strongest piece. Many times the judges don't even ask for a second piece or only ask for a portion of another piece. You want to make sure that they have heard your best and not leave that performance up to chance.
  5. Do not announce that you are sick, have a cough, sore throat, or that you are recovering from illness. The judges are trained professionals who understand the human voice. They can hear if your voice is healthy or not and can take that into consideration. Announcing that you are sick sounds to the judges that you are making excuses.
  6. Always introduce yourself confidently, but not arrogantly, and smile. This helps relieve tension and helps put the judges at ease too. Remember, your audition begins the moment you step into the room, long before you begin singing. Always, always, always leave a good impression.
  7. Always remember that the judges want you to sing your best and aren't "out to catch you doing something wrong."
  8. If you CAN bring or arrange for your own accompanist, do! This will allow you time to rehearse so that you can have your best performance. It sometimes also sends a message of how seriously you have prepared for this audition.
  9. Don't advertise your mistakes with your facial expression or your body language. The musical world is filled with stories of great musicians who made mistakes, cracked a note, and forgot words. We are all human and these things happen. What marks a great musician is how you recover, adapt, and move on.
  10. Practice in front of a mirror. There is a reason a mirror is a voice teachers best friend and every voice student’s biggest enemy: it doesn't lie. Make sure your facial expression and body language match what you are singing.
  11. Know what you are singing about. Do your best to find a word for word translation of your foreign language text and memorize it. This will help you truly communicate with your audience. Do not rely on the poor poetic English alternative words that are sometimes provided.
  12. Practice, practice, practice. Then practice it even more the right way. Students always say, "I don't understand, I did it perfectly at home." Yes, but did you do it perfectly 50 times? Did you perform it for others to recreate the nerves of singing in front of an audience?
  13. Always, always, always practice the exact spots where you will breathe. Nine out of ten voice teachers will tell you that when you are nervous the breath support is the first thing to go.
  14. If at first you don't succeed, keep trying. Auditioning is always scary, but it does get easier the more you do it. Treat everything as a learning experience.
  15. Finally, realize and accept that you could give the most amazing performance you've ever delivered and still not get the role, solo, college, or award that you desired. There are many elements that go into choosing a singer for any given situation. But, if you put your very best foot forward you can feel proud of the job you did, and that is ultimately all you can ask for. Everything else is out of your control.


VOCAL SOLO COMPETITION - Jeffe Huls - VP, Vocal Solo Competition
SCVA Vocal Solo competition is right around the corner. We are looking for another great year of growth and education for our best middle and high school singers in Southern California.

Please use the online application and note the following:


  Fullerton Union High School, Fullerton
  Oakwood School, North Hollywood
  South Orange County, TBD

The following regulations are still in place, with a few changes and enhancements:




JUNIOR HIGH HONOR CHOIR - Vanessa Ventre, VP-Junior High honor Choir

Dear Colleagues,

Details have been uploaded to the SCVA website and students should be able to start applying to audition for the 2012 Junior High Honor Choir by the time you receive this newsletter!

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!

The Audition will include:

1. Sing a major scale up and down (a cappella)
2. Sing a major triad and minor triad up and down (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)

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

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, California.

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 be kicked out of the honor choir and not be allowed to audition the following year.

In addition I am in need of adjudicators for the honor choir auditions Saturday January 14th and Saturday, January 21st. Please contact me ASAP if you can help!

Thank you!

Vanessa Ventre
SCVA Vice President-Junior High Honor Choir
310-393-9227 ext 73156


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!


Young Women's and Young Men's Harmony Festivals - Mark Freedkin, VP of  Barbershop Harmony Festivals
This year's Barbershop Harmony Festivals for Young Women and Young Men are filling up, but we can still accommodate additional singers who wish to participate. 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.
Although the early-registration deadline has passed, the application fee is still only $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 will be limited to a maximum of 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.

IMPORTANT: Both of these popular events are filling up quickly, so please contact the responsible coordinator to ensure that there is still room for your singers.

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 also request that you select your better singers to help maximize the musical quality of the event.

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


Choral Leadership Academy

The California Association for Music Education, in partnership with California ACDA, for the California All State Music Education Conference (CASMEC)
(a unified conference of CMEA, CBDA, ACDA, CODA, and CAJ)
General Membership Information for All Interested Singers and Directors
For more details, go to “Choral Leadership Academy” at

What: The 2012 CASMEC Conference will include a new opportunity for young choral musicians, The Choral Leadership Academy (CLA). The CLA will bring together high school students who demonstrate an interest in the music profession, with pre-service college music education majors, for two days of musical and educational activities. These activities will teach musicianship skills, inspire confidence, and build camaraderie among musicians of the next generation. CLA members will gain a better understanding of our professional organizations, attend sessions at the CASMEC, and perform as a choir for an informal concert at the end of the Academy. CLA Faculty includes choral music education icons Charlene Archibeque and Rodney Eichenberger.

When: Friday, February 17, 2012 and Saturday, February 18, 2012
Where: Fresno, California; Sessions will take place in the Fresno Convention Center as part of the California All State Music Education Conference (February 16-19, 2012)

Fees: $75 participation fee. This covers costs of the CLA Leadership (Conductors and Accompanist), a Music Packet, a CLA T-shirt, two group meals (lunch on Friday and Saturday) rehearsal and performance facilities, and full registration for CASMEC. (The Conference beings on Thursday, February 16 and concludes on Sunday, February 19. You are encouraged to experience as much of the conference as possible outside of your designated CLA time).

Housing: Housing arrangements are the responsibility of each singer. A block of rooms has been set aside at the Super 8 Motel (walking distance) and the La Quinta Inn (if you have transportation). Hotel contact info is available at Rooms fill up fast, so send in your Registration materials now and make your reservations ASAP!

Meals and travel: Each singer pays for his/her own meals and travel. The exceptions are the lunches on Friday and Saturday, we will share these meal times together. A list of local eating establishments will also be provided for you to plan out your meals.

Application and Recommendation: Membership in the All-State CLA will be through self-application and Director Recommendation. All members of the CLA will have been recommended by their Choral Director. Visit for full details and packet.

SINGERS: Speak with your Choral Director about this event and work out how you can attend
DIRECTORS: Plan to attend this exciting conference for Music Educators and observe two of our Choral greats working with your students! A Choral Strand of sessions is also being presented for Music Educators who are teaching in the Choral area.

First come/First served so submit your applications now!
Questions: contact Scott Hedgecock, CMEA VP/CLA Coordinator, at 

Please join us for the first ever California All-State Choral Leadership Academy! It all begins in Fresno…


SCVA Vocal Jazz Festival - Christine Tavares, VP, Jazz Choirs

SCVA is proud to announce “THE BOBS”
On Tuesday, March 6th, 2012, the Grammy nominated group, “The Bobs”, will close the Southern California Vocal Association Jazz Festival. Sign up for the festival now at and purchase tickets for the evening concert! For more information, email

SCVA Vocal Jazz Festival Announces Our Adjudicators:

Angie Doctor, a studio singer and live performer who began her career in Chicago doing commercials, voice-overs and recording projects, 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 (, 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 (


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