Communication Artistry in the Choral Music Setting: Keys to 21st

Communication Artistry in the
Choral Music Setting:
Keys to 21 Century Skills
Southwestern Division MENC/TMEC Conference
June 13, 2011
• Of all the arts, choral music is the most closely tied to
linguistics. The combined artistic beauty derived from
well composed music and inspired lyrics are celebrated
through our best choral works. However, only the
most proficient conductor/teachers are able to inspire
their students to connect performance techniques with
linguistic understandings. This session explores the
phoneme and how great choral music experiences
develop linguistic awareness for all ages. Special
emphasis will be placed on how choral music
experiences enhance communication skills for
adolescents in a world where “WorkKeys” skills have
become critical to lifelong success.
• Participants will consider prominent features
of choral music which are essential to artistic
• Participants will examine text as an
educational component of choral music.
• Participants will articulate factors of choral
music education which may enhance work
skill development in adolescents.
Prominent features of choral music
which are essential to artistic
• Decoding skills
– Phonological features
– Phonemic awareness
– Sight identification-vocabulary
• Comprehension
– Semantics/syntax-vocabulary and grammar
– Fluency factors
Considering texts
• Your first assignment is to imagine
Star Spangled Banner
Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Decoding the “Banner”
• When you envisioned performing this piece:
– Did you perceive it instrumentally?
– Did you sing it in your head?
– Was your perception of the piece a combination of
vocal and instrumental?
How you decode music may relate to how you enable students
to decode music.
A Red, Red Rose - Robert Burns
O my luve is like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June:
O my luve's like a melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I,
I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.
I Shot an Arrow
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.
Phonemic Awareness
• Is it all about the rhyme scheme?
• What features make the poetry/lyrics
• Singable?
Phonemic or Semantic?
• How does word choice affect imagery?
• How does word choice affect musicality?
• Does musicality alter meaning?
• Does diction affect meaning or does meaning
affect diction?
The Music-Lyric Connection
• The relationship between music composition
and inspired lyrics
– Timing and stress
– Intensity adjustments
– Inflection through pitch/timing accuracy
The Dreamkeeper
Langston Hughes
Bring me all of your dreams, you dreamer
Bring me all your heart’s melodies
That I may wrap them in a blue cloud cloth
Away from the too rough fingers of the world
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Vanna Effect
• A matter of co-articulation
• We draw attention to:
– Consonant placement and timing
– Vowel modification
Does choral reading enhance literacy?
• How does diction affect musicality?
• What language factors affect choral music?
– Phonology, phonemic awareness
– Semantics and fluency
– Comprehension
• How do these factors affect the qualities of
language ?
Educating through Choral Texts
• Language levels of text
Frozen and Formal
Oratorios (scripture)
Formal poetry
• Example: Sing Unto God
– The Greatest of These
Neutral, Informal
Story songs
Folk genre
Folk poets and poetry
History- ballads
Politics and advocacy
Cultural norms
• Example: The Ship Carol
Praise genres
Examples: That Lonesome Road
• Love songs
• Lullabies
• Vocal improvisation
Language Levels:
Music/text considerations
Brain Research:
Cognitive processes
• The ability to recognize music is contained in
the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that
also plays a key role in learning and in the
response and control of emotions.
(Petr Jana, Dartmouth Center for Cognitive, Neuroscience, Journal of Science, 2002).
An important “soft skill”
Nina Kraus:
INVENTIVE or High Order Thinking (HOTS)
• WORD CHOICE (semantics)
• Symbol systems define meaning
» Vygotsky and Bruner
• Vocabulary growth aids THINKING
» Repertoire must be relevant, varied and authentic
• GRAMMAR (syntax)
• Chord progressions
Applications to Work Skills
• Developing the full package
– Ability to code shift to different language levels
– Comfort with public performance (speaking)
– Ability to work collaboratively with others under
the direction of a “boss”
– Ability to stay with a task and move toward
A Common Analogy
Building the Perfect House
– The timing, pitch and structure of the music
– Must be accurately built
– Will reflect the cultural style of its architecture
But--What’s inside the walls?
• The understanding of the language itself
• The nuances associated with the language
– Vowels
– Consonants
– Placement of the décor
• Onset and offset timing, tone color blend
The Music-Lyric Connection
• Music and lyrics that are not the best match
– Can we overcome a piece that is not a great match
if we like the music and like the lyrics?
– Music and lyrics that are a great match
• Will they always produce a great performance?
Interior Design—
Using the Lyrics
• Applying the expressive controls help create
the meaning
• A mismatch between the expressive controls and the
actual semantics of the language is problematic. What
you do with the music has to be honest with the lyrics?
• It’s like putting ultra modern furniture in a
Victorian house—very few listeners will respect
the choice so you will have an audience of one.
So how do we best honor the composer and
his/her music?
– Establish artistry through work-keys
foundational skills.
– Understand that musical artistry IS literacy.
Contact information
• Elaine Bernstorf, Ph.D. CCC-SLP
– [email protected];
– 316-978-6953
• John Paul Johnson, Ph.D.
– [email protected]
– 316-978-6607
• Cathy Hunt, Ph.D.
– [email protected]
– 785-670-1519