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American Choral Directors Association

Repertoire Children's and Community Youth Choir Repertoire and Standards History and Goals

Children's Choir Repertoire & Standards History & Goals

A Peek into the History of Children's and Community Youth Choir in ACDA - Goals Set in 1989
Robyn Lana, National Chair, Children's and Community Youth Choir Repertoire and Standards

The Children's Choir Repertoire and Standards Committee, both nationally and at the state level, serve in order to better the experience of children and youth across the United States.

"Children should be taught with only the most musically valuable material. For the very young, only the best is good enough. They should be led to masterpieces by means of masterpieces."

In the March 1989 issue of the Choral Journal, then National Children's Choir Chair Doreen Rao, speaking on behalf of the work of the National Committee on Children's Choirs, set forth a challenge to educators/conductors across the United States that still influences the work of the committee to this day. These challenges, stated with the sincere belief that ". . . the future of choral music in American culture depends on our ability to find a permanent place for children's choirs in the schools and beyond the school" (Choral Journal, March 1989, p13) have continued to influence the work of ACDA Children's Choir Repertoire and Standards Committees, are applicable today, and are quoted below.

  1. To promote children's choir in the community, schools, and in church music programs.
  2. To support the view that all children, whether "gifted or less able," can, with capable instruction
    • Learn to sing in tune
    • Learn to use the "singing voice" musically
    • Learn a variety of good quality choral music in unison and simple part forms, folk and composed
    • Learn to sing in ensemble
  3. To consider that all children should be taught to sing musically and in tune as part of classroom music experience and, whenever it is possible, as part of special performing ensembles
  4. To encourage high standards in choral repertory from unison melodies to part-song forms. Choral repertory should be studied and performed in a well balanced, carefully composed choral curriculum that encourages the teaching of musical form and style in every rehearsal
    • American folk music, unaccompanied and arranged
    • Choral classics (ie: Bach, Handel, Schubert, Brahms, etc. . .)
    • Contemporary composition (ie: Britten, Bartok, Vaughn Williams, etc . . .)
    • American contemporaries (Copland, Pinkham, Rorem, Nelson, etc. . . .)
    • Spirituals and gospel
    • Jazz classics (for example, jazz forms of swing including the blues and bebop, not to be confused with "pop" or show choir music)
  5. To encourage and support the commissioning of new compositions for children's choir from composers throughout our country; and to sponsor choral composer-in-residence programs whereby children can work with composers
  6. To develop "all-state children's choir," honors children's choirs, and children's chorus festivals which promote excellence in tone, repertory, and performance practice, and which provide teacher-conductors with an in-service opportunity to observe the teaching and learning "process"
  7. To develop opportunities for undergraduate and graduate university students to study the children's choir by
    • Providing university and college choral music education curricula that will encourage only qualified and gifted music education students, choral students, and voice students to work with children at elementary and junior high school levels
    • Requiring sufficient voice training and choral conducting courses for every vocal music education major, especially those heading for careers in elementary music education
    • Stressing the study of quality treble choral music in addition to standard SATB literature (this should include a large percentage of good unison material derived from medieval to contemporary styles appropriate for classroom and beginning choirs in secular and sacred forms)
  8. To develop choral in-service opportunities for teachers through intensive workshops, seminars, and clinics on the children's choir
  9. To actively encourage the music industry to publish, to distribute, and to market quality choral music suitable for the young voice in range, text, and voicing, taking into account that publisher's catalogs and services are a means to changing and improving choral music standards in America
  10. To discourage the proliferation of "junk" music, "amusement" music, and music for "entertainment" purposes by purchasing and programming ONLY music that is carefully crafted in each style and music that fits educationally into a well balanced program as outlined above. Music for children's choirs must provide an opportunity for music education, a concept altogether different from music "entertainment"
  11. To engage vocal artists and professional choral ensembles to demonstrate and perform for children in classrooms, chorus rehearsals, and all-school assemblies
  12. To provide opportunities for children to listen to choral music performances by other children's choirs by
    • Playing children's chorus recordings (the best quality examples)
    • Attending children's chorus concerts
  13. To inform parents about the goals an objectives of good singing and choral music performance by:
    • Inviting parents to observe classroom singing and chorus rehearsals
    • Inviting audiences to participate in concert during which the teacher give a lecture-demonstration of the "process" of teaching through choral performance programs. Demonstrations should stress:
      • Vocal development
      • Musicianship training
      • The educational value of good music
  14. To replace the concept of "performance" as a public concert, or a public relations vehicle, or school entertainment with a new concept of "performance" as a way of educating children musically through active participation in the production of music
  15. To aspire to the highest musical standards rather than minimum competencies
  16. To promote choral performance in the schools as a way of teaching children vocal skills and musical understanding, as a way of delving deeply into expressive musical ideas, as a way of teaching the techniques of singing, reading, and knowledge of musical form and style, and as a way of enjoying music for its own sake
  17. To consider the psychological benefits of music performance: as a way of children have of confirming their existence, as a means of developing self-esteem, as a tool for adapting to life in modern times, and as a means of developing sensitivity to inner feelings
  18. To serve the broader educational thesis that choral performance ranks among those activities that define a good life in society