Choral Connectivity: A People-First Approach to Singing

Kirsten Oberoi

A podcast dedicated to discussing ways to create ensembles that prioritize people and their connection as singers to the music, and the belief that through that connection (and only through that connection), outstanding and beautiful music can occur.

Episode 21: To Experience Beauty Everywhere You Go
Dec 7 2021
Episode 21: To Experience Beauty Everywhere You Go
"Choirs have this wonderful way of being a nurturing place for the act of discovering what you didn't think you could do - all these new aspects of yourself through making sound/feeling that sound in your body."Composer and Artist Moira Smiley speaks eloquently in this episode about having an open mind beyond your own experience when it comes to being a musician. This heavily philosophical discussion centers on inclusivity, justice, and a people-first approach. Moira's thoughtful nature is clear through every moment of this episode, especially as she discusses her creative process as a composer.Additionally, we discuss her piece Rise to it Now, which my organization the South Shore Children's Chorus virtually performed in collaboration with Moira Smiley, Elevate Vocal Band, the Youth Chorus of Kansas City, Capriccio Youth Choir, Lynch Dance Institute, and the Temecula Prep Choirs. I highly encourage you to check out the virtual performance, as the student dancers really bring this work to an inspirational level with their artistry.After recording this, I find myself reflecting on ways that I can open my ears, eyes, and mind to truly be able to experience beauty everywhere I go - outside of what I have previously experienced or understood.  Reach out to me and let me know your thoughts about the philosophies presented in this episode episode on Instagram and Facebook (@choralconnectivitypodcast), through the contact form on the website (choralconnectivity.com) or through my email (podcastchoralconnectivity@gmail.com). I want to hear from you!
Episode 17: I Don't Teach Music, I Teach People Through Music
Nov 22 2021
Episode 17: I Don't Teach Music, I Teach People Through Music
How do you teach leadership? What does leadership mean in a choral setting? What is expected of choral leaders, and how can they best communicate with the conductor? What are the steps to becoming a great leader in your ensemble?Using John Maxwell's 5 Levels of Leadership, Dr. Keith Pedersen from Point Loma Nazarene University answers these questions. I spent my four years of undergrad singing in various choirs led by Dr. Pedersen, and to say he was an influence on me as a musician, educator, and person is an understatement. Dr. Pedersen's honest and down-to-earth approach to teaching leadership is evident in this episode, and it is an hour that any music educator will learn greatly from. As I reflect on this episode, I recognize how well Maxwell's levels of leadership fit within the context of a people-first approach. Level 2 (Permission) is based on relationship. "To grow at this level, leaders work on getting to know their people and connecting with them." (Maxwell.) This level comes before Level 3 (Production). "On this level, leaders who produce results build their influence and credibility."  Creating community, culture, and a people-first environment will build your choristers' trust in you and each other, which opens the gate to producing beautiful and high-quality musical results. Relationship and community come before anything else! How are you building on your Level 2 leadership, leading in to Level 3? Reach out to me and let me know your thoughts on Instagram and Facebook (@choralconnectivitypodcast), through the contact form on the website (choralconnectivity.com) or through my email (podcastchoralconnectivity@gmail.com). I want to hear from you!
Episode 15: Everything Can Be Changed; Remixing Music Education
Nov 16 2021
Episode 15: Everything Can Be Changed; Remixing Music Education
"I want my singers to be happy; that's what it means to keep people-first!"This week, I spoke with Maria Ellis - Girl Conductor, entrepreneur, music educator, vocalist, and all-around wonderful human being. Maria is a popular clinician at choral workshops (and will be presenting at the ACDA Children's Choir Retreat in January!) and after listening to her passionate speaking for two seconds you'll understand why.  Through this episode, Maria and I converse about "remixing" music education, and diversifying instruction so that everyone can feel included. This sometimes requires setting aside the literacy competent to balance with aural skills, or really just feeling the music - a common style of learning in the Gospel tradition in which Maria's musical roots are planted. However, this also includes opening space for those who would like to learn foundational literacy skills later in life. Regardless, Maria teaches it, and does so without any judgement of her students. Additionally, Maria encourages everyone to not "other" any types or genres of music - especially music that has roots in America! Her perspective is a refreshing look at diversity, equity, and inclusion, and left me laughing, smiling, and inspired. How are you remixing music education?  How are you diversifying instruction to be sure that the melting pot of America is being reflected in your classroom? As Maria says, we can't wait for the textbooks to do it for us. Let us know your thoughts on Instagram and Facebook (@choralconnectivitypodcast), through the contact form on the website (choralconnectivity.com) or through my email (podcastchoralconnectivity@gmail.com). I want to hear from you!
Episode 12: Creating & Sharing the Weirdo Art that's About to Happen
Nov 4 2021
Episode 12: Creating & Sharing the Weirdo Art that's About to Happen
In this unique episode, I speak with Adam Reinwald and Sara Langworthy - Beer Choir Twin Cities owner and enthusiast. Beer Choir is a fun and communal way to get people singing together in a no-pressure, no-commitment, super welcoming environment. Adam and Sara talk about what Beer Choir events or like, and how they reach the goal to always make the environment comfortable for participants. There is truly nothing like Beer Choir here in America, and I believe events like this are breaking down how we think of communal singing. Towards the end of the episode, the conversation turns towards the traditions in our choral community, and how we need to combat them to be more inclusive in our approaches going forward. Some choirs do it more naturally (like Beer Choir), but how can we create a more people-first approach at the collegiate or professional level, where often the question is asked "How can your voice serve the purpose of this choral machine?" Even at these more "musically excellent" levels, there is space for personal connection rather than transactional music making. We also discuss steps choirs can begin take to reach more diverse populations, and the active awareness needed to see better representation across the board.Do you love the idea of Beer Choir? Do you want to see an event in your area, or are you interested in starting a chapter near your home? Were you inspired by any of the conversation, and want to chime in? Let us know your thoughts on Instagram and Facebook (@choralconnectivitypodcast), through the contact form on the website (choralconnectivity.com) or through my email (podcastchoralconnectivity@gmail.com). I can't wait to hear your thoughts!