Song and the Stage

SBO Staff • ChoralJanuary 2009Survey • January 23, 2009

Aside from the standard choral department offerings, vocal music often manifests itself in productions that might fall under the umbrella of the Theatre Arts. These can range from show choir to musicals, from dinner theatre to variety-type school plays, and more. Some of these productions are lead by a drama teacher and housed in a drama department, but for many schools, the various staff in the Performing Arts department work together in assisting students achieve their dramatic goals.

To gain a better understanding of the role that vocal music educators play in the Theatre Arts milieu, this latest CD reader survey goes straight to the source. Not surprisingly, a resounding 71 percent of the responding choral directors indicated that they are in fact active in their school’s theatrical productions.

Are you active in your school’s Theatre Arts programs?

Are you active in your school's Theatre Arts programs?

“We do not have a Theatre Arts program, but I present a Renaissance Dinner two evenings in May which entails staging, blocking, et cetera. This is part of the Vocal Music program.”

Cheryl Gapinski
Owosso Middle School
Owosso, Mich.

If yes, which of the following do you work with?

If yes, which of the following do you work with?

“We do something based on the Madrigal Dinner format, only ours is set in the mid-1800s with a four-course meal, an original comedic play, authentic costuming, a 45-voice choir onstage, 25-member instrumental ensemble, and 65 servers. It’s quite a good fundraiser for our department and a great experience for all involved.”

Deborah Divine
Enterprise High School
Redding, Calif.

“We have only begun a Theatre Arts program this year. I have offered my assistance, but I feel my main obligation is to my choirs and their goals.”

Janice Jadlocki
C. C. Griffin Middle School
Concord, N.C.

What are the most significant expenditures required by these productions?

What are the most significant expenditures required by these productions?

When does your theatre arts program hold its largest performance?

When does your theatre arts program hold its largest performance?

Would you describe the connection between the Theatre Arts programs and Music programs at your school?

“We all share in the responsibilities of the Theater Arts programs. We work really well together.”

Ms. Peggy Killian
Alexander High School
Douglasville, Ga.

“The Arts program has been a very strong recruiting tool, especially for those students who want to improve their voices to be cast in more important roles.”

Victor Izzo
Minisink Valley High School
Slate Hill, N.Y.

“I assist when I am needed, but my schedule is very full and the school hires a director for our plays and also a music director for our musicals.”

Virginia Heasley
Trinity Christian School
Pittsburgh, Pa.

“We share the same students and often times are able to recruit from one another.”

Jenny Davis
Charles D. Owen High School
Black Mountain, N.C.

What are the biggest challenges you face working with both Choral programs and Theatre Arts programs?

“The biggest challenge is getting the strictly drama students to be able to sing. After 30 years, you learn how to ‘reach’ them and keep them from embarrassing themselves and the ensemble.”

Andre P. Descoteaux
Lowell High School
Lowell, Mass.

“Our Theatre Arts program takes place after school. As music director, I rehearse four days a week for about an hour for about two months. I try to be as efficient in working with the students as I can. One of the biggest challenges for me is to help my students maintain healthy singing techniques.”

Sheila N. Chovanec
Queen of All Saints School
Chicago, Ill.

“We find that the kids are often over scheduled with sports or an overabundance of AP classes. We also find that a lot of those that do community theatre come in to our programs with an inflated sense of their talent level, which can sometimes present difficult working situations.”

Bruce C. Lengacher
Acalanes High School
Lafayette, Calif.

“I am the choral director at school and the music director of the show… I have convinced the drama director that belting is not the way to go. In the past, misuse of the voice was the biggest problem.”

Allyson Ledoux
Charlotte Central School
Charlotte, Vt.

“If any of the choral students are cast in the fall musical, it will keep them from participating in ACDA and sometimes All-County. But it is their choice.”

Judy McLaurin
Harrison School for the Arts
Lakeland, Florida

Additional Thoughts

“I am very fortunate to work with other faculty members at our school who are very talented and offer great assistance as artists, seamstresses, set construction, assistant drama director, and so on. In addition, our school and church office staff are very supportive and cover all printing of programs and publicity posters in-house.”

Melissa Barnes
First Coast Christian School
Jacksonville, Fla.

“Other Theatre Arts teachers in our district are the most marvelous resources for assistance, inspiration, support, and knowledge.”

Rebecca R. Herring
E. E. Waddell High School
Charlotte, N.C.

“While I very much enjoyed being the vocal director of our musical, the time commitment got to be entirely too much, and the salary for it was inadequate. Now that I’ve retired from the musical, I don’t feel like the ‘walking dead’ from lack of sleep!”

Andrea C. Brumbach
Exeter Township SHS
Reading, Pa.

“For difficult passages in the vocal music, I’ll post MIDI files on our intranet, then delete them once the show has wrapped.”

John Kling
Villa Victoria Academy
West Trenton, N.J.

“For our school musical, our drama teacher takes care of purchasing sound and lighting equipment. His tech theatre class constructs sets. Many of our costumes and props are donated or we make them. We have accumulated quite a collection over the years.”

Camille Blackburn
Hillcrest High School
Ammon, Idaho

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