Interest Sessions

2021 Conference Interest Sessions

Interest Sessions will focus on K-12 music literacy and rebuilding healthy choral programs.  Congratulations to those interest sessions that were accepted to present in person as well as those leaders that will provide virtual resources for our conference attendees

Why They Come and Why They Stay  

Steven Olson

At each professional development conference in choral music, you are sure to find a session that can be defined under the umbrella terms of, "recruitment," or "retention." After all, these ideas are extremely important to the success of any choral program. To increase the success of our programs, we constantly try to appeal to new singers.   In this session, I am looking to create support for those recruitment and retention sessions.  We are going to hear from the singers themselves on the number of reasons why they joined choir and why they’ve stuck around.   I hope you’ll join us as we analyze their motivations to inform our decisions on recruiting and rebuilding! 

Originally from Hazard, Kentucky, Steven Olson is currently the Director of Choirs at Green Level High School, a new school in the Wake County Public School System. Since opening their doors in 2019, the program at GLHS has grown rapidly from 35 singers to the nearly 100 it serves today. Most recently, Steven was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Cary Chamber of Commerce for the 2020-21 school year. In addition to his teaching at Green Level, Steven is also the Staff Development chair for HS Choral teachers in WCPSS, as well as a Co-Director of the Cary Youth Voices, a community youth ensemble serving grades 2-12.

Steven holds the Bachelor’s of Music Education degree from the University of Kentucky, where he studied conducting with Drs. Jefferson Johnson and Lori Hetzel, and voice with Dr. Angelique Clay.

Outside of music, Steven loves travelling and spending time with his fiancée and their cat TiDo (after the solfege syllables of course).

Reconnecting the Ensemble and Conductor

Dr. Meg Stohlmann

After a year of on-line choir rehearsals, creating connection between the ensemble and director will be more important than ever. Oftentimes, conducting is left until the rehearsal before the concert and it is often frustrating to "wave your arms" and not have your singers understand your musical intentions. What if the gesture was part of the initial communication established with the ensemble, so that it becomes a useful tool not only for following, but for connecting. Participants will explore these movements and connect them to their own conducting gestures through some fun and engaging exercises that you'll be able to use with your own ensembles. 

Dr. Meg Stohlmann is an Assistant Professor in the Hayes School of Music where she conducts the Appalachian Glee Club, Appalachian Chorale, Appalachian Youth Chorale, teaches and coordinates Class Voice, supervises choral music education practicum and student teachers, along with offering seminars on musical theater and American Black composers. Originally from Santa Rosa, California, Meg taught choir and guitar at the middle and high school level in Lexington, KY for six years and conducted the Danville Children's Choir. Her children's choir and high school advanced women's choirs performed at the Kentucky Music Educators State Conference in 2014 and 2015, respectively. She earned her Doctoral of Musical Arts Degree at the University of Washington and Masters degree in Voice Performance and Choral Conducting from the University of Kentucky. A graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Meg also served on active duty in the Air Force for 5 years in Arizona, Korea and Germany. She separated from the military in 2004 to pursue a second bachelor's degree in Music Education at Sonoma State University. Meg's lifelong love of choral music began as a charter member of the Santa Rosa Children's Chorus where she sang for over 10 years and credits with her decision to make music education her career.

Rebuilding your Dream Sound

Dr. Jami Rhodes

Let’s face it-Most of our singers in our programs are new to singing or have not sung in quite some time.  We hope you will join us to watch Dr. Rhodes work with a Live Demonstration SATB Choir.  She will start with warmups and work vocal technique throughout the music.  Whether you conduct a high school ensemble, church choir, a collegiate ensemble, or a group of professional singers, this session is relevant and not your typical technique discussion.  This session will offer practical advice and techniques for the rehearsal process, as we begin to rebuild our choirs. 

Dr. Jami Rhodes, mezzo-soprano, is currently Associate Professor of Voice at East Carolina University where she teaches applied studio voice, conducts the ECU Concert Choir, and coordinates the voice science and vocal pedagogy program. She holds the Doctor of Musical Arts in vocal performance and pedagogy from Louisiana State University, a Master of Music in vocal performance from the University of South Carolina, and a Bachelor of Music in music education from East Carolina University. Dr. Rhodes is an active adjudicator and masterclass clinician in both solo vocal and choral capacities, and, in 2018, was named the recipient of North Carolina and ECU’s most prestigious collegiate teaching honor, The Board of Governor’s award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Rhodes’ primary research focus is the incorporation of vocal pedagogy and individual voice building into the choral rehearsal and conducts pedagogy clinics for major high school and university choral programs across the United States each year. In addition to clinicing, Dr. Rhodes has presented research and workshops at numerous conferences at the state, regional, and national level, and regularly serves as guest conductor for festival, all-state, and honor choirs around the country. Also an active solo performer, upcoming appearances include mezzo-soprano soloist in the premiere of Dwight Bigler’s Mosaic for Earth at Lincoln Center in 2022, as well as performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Verdi’s Requiem, Kim Andre Arnesen’s Tuvayhum, and the roles of La Principessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Julia Childs in Lee Hoiby’s solo chamber opera Bon Appétite!

Preparation without Trepidation! 

Bethany Jennings

To round out our interest session package, our final time together concludes with a refreshing look at how we as conductors should (and perhaps should not) approach repertoire.  Even though the recent global pandemic required and necessitated a crisis-mode of operandi for most of us, refusing to pick up our bad habits of the past will expedite the rebuilding to come.   Prepare to watch three master teachers work with a live demonstration choir - each approaching repertoire in different ways.  Presented in a “do this, not that” format, practitioners will be provided with the tools and confidence enough to ‘chop’ some old ways and move forward with support for a renewed sense of purpose and mission.