Posts Tagged “MPA”

Although I’m sure that you would prefer that the title of this post was Superiority, never be ashamed to be excellent.  Both Ms. Morton and I are very happy with the job that both choruses did at MPA.  We talked in class about the fact that judging has an element of subjectivity.  The results are the results.

We have lots to look forward to in the less than three months left of school.  Our priorities right now are to prepare for the 25th anniversary celebration (Concert Chorus) on April 13th, and our Spring Concert (both Beginning and Concert Choruses, as well as Handbells) on May 23rd.

Unfortunately, the audio files are too large to add to the blog.  I will try to put them on Edline.


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I’ve always known that I get to direct superior choirs, and now we have our MPA ratings to prove it.  As I said in class today, I don’t worry about the actual ratings,  because there is so much subjectivity in judging.  Mr Bailey and I saw that when were reading the judges’ comments.  One judge heard one thing, and another heard exactly the opposite.  My concern is that everybody does their very best.  I can’t ask for more.  And I think this year, there is no questions that everyone did just that.

And I don’t think my hair got too frizzy.  I know I didn’t look like the director in this post!

I know you’d like to listen to your performances again, so here they are.

01 Music Like a Radiant Light

02 Good Night

Rise, Rise Thou Merry Lark


Wayfarin’ Stranger

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As I’ve said a couple of times, there are rules of conduct that we are expected to follow while we are at MPA.  We will discuss these in class on Tuesday and again on Friday before we leave.  However, they are so important that I’m listing them here.  These are taken from the Florida Vocal Association handbook.

Listening: A vital part of the evaluation is listening to other groups perform.  Choirs are required to remain in the auditorium for the entire block.  Violation of attendance policies will result in disqualification.


1.  Director should brief all students on the rules of conduct so that they are thoroughly understood.  (That’s what I’m doing here.)

2.  The following rules apply specifically to the MPA site:

  • Reasonable quiet should be maintained at all times.
  • Radios, recorders, beepers, cell phones, watch alarms, and other portable sound sources are distracting and must be turned off at the performance venue.  Violation of this rule will result in confiscation by an FVA officer, who will take the device to the FVA office until the school checks out.  The device will be returned to the director.
  • No one is to enter or leave an adjudication room while a performance is in progress.
  • No flash pictures may be taken during any performance.  (And since your cell phones must be off, no pictures with cell phones.)
  • No food or drink is permitted in any adjudication or warm-up room.
  • Individual schools are responsible for any property damage that is caused by any of their participants.

Infraction of any rules will result in disqualification of the entry.

As you can tell, Florida Vocal Association is very serious about these rules.  So, what does it mean for us?  It means that, once we get off the bus, we are QUIET.  We will line up and stay together at all times.  Once inside the auditorium, you will stay in your seat until we are called to go to the warm-up room.  We will do that quietly, as well.  When we finish sight-singing and return to the auditorium, we will sit quietly and listen respectfully to the other choruses.  You can applaud the other performances, but this is not a place for whistling, screaming, or any other sound to acknowledge a performance.  When we are finished, we will leave the auditorium in a quiet, orderly fashion.

As far as I’m concerned, how you act is as important as how you sing.  Remember, the judges will see you in the auditorium before they see you on stage.  Impress them with your good behavior as soon as you walk in the door.  Don’t be like the person in the picture!

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When we sing at MPA, we are evaluated by three judges on our stage performance, and by a fourth judge for sight-singing.  The best score a judge can give us is “superior,” which is like getting an A, or level 5 on the FCAT.  But how do judges decide on a rating?

This first link will take you to the judging sheet used for choral performance. You will see that there are three main categories:  tone quality, technical preparation, and musical effect.  Tone quality is, in essence, how you sing and what you sound like.  This includes elements like our breathing and breath control, tall vowels, crisp consonants, and blend of voices.  Technical preparation is how well we know the music.  Are we singing the correct rhythms and pitches?  Are we singing in tune?  Do we come in and cut off where we’re supposed to?  When we sing in parts, are the parts balanced, or is one louder than the other?  Finally, musical effect refers to how we use our tone quality and knowledge of the technical aspects of the songs and make them musical.  How are our dynamics?  What about phrasing?  Are we singing with expression?  Do the singers respond to what the conductor is asking them to do?  As you scroll down to the second page of the document, you will see the scale, just like the grading scales or rubrics that you are used to seeing in all your classes, that the judges use to determine their grades for each of the main elements.

I have also included a link to the sight-reading judging sheet.  This also has three categories.  The first is about rhythmic execution.  Do we keep a steady beat?  Are our note and rest values accurate as we sight-sing our rhythm example?  The second category, melodic and harmonic accuracy, is used for our melody exercise.  Do we sing the correct intervals?  Do we stay in the same key?  When we sight-sing in parts, as Concert Chorus does, is there balance between the parts?  The final sight-reading category is called musical and tonal fundamentals.  Here, the judge listens for tone quality, just as the stage judges do.  The judge is also listening for confidence (everybody singing), phrasing, dynamics and expression.  The judging scale is on the second page of this document, too.

Now that you know how we will be judged, think about what we’ve been doing in class.  Are we earning an A in all those categories every day as we prepare?  That’s our goal.

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We finally have our MPA schedule.  The good news is that both choruses will perform on Friday, March 9th.  So we don’t have to worry about Saturday.  The bad news–well, really, not that bad–is that we are scheduled in the 7:00 to 9:30pm time block.  This means that we won’t miss any classes.  I know that some of you were hoping that we’d be leaving school early, but that’s not the case this year.  We will be in the same time block as Okeeheelee Middle School and Independence Middle School, as well as a few others.  In fact, one of the groups from Okeeheelee will be singing one of the same songs as Beginning Chorus, Music Like a Radiant Light.

Permission slips are going home today (Thursday) for Beginning Chorus and tomorrow for Concert Chorus.  I hadn’t gotten the email when Concert Chorus met this morning.  Please bring them back as quickly as possible, and DON’T LOSE THEM!  I hate killing trees!  We will talk about MPA more in class, because it is important to know what to expect.

Once we’re past MPA, then it’s on to new, fun music!

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Is everyone ready for the new school year?  The train is going to leave the station on Monday, and it’s going to pick up steam pretty quickly.  I’m excited for the new year.  I have some great things planned, new music ordered, and I’m looking forward to getting started.  As you may have heard, we have a new principal, Ms. Bennett, and she loves music.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she drops into the chorus and handbell classrooms on a regular basis. 

You might want to mark the following dates on your calendar.  I think I have all of them up on Edline, but I want to keep this up-to-date, too.

  • September 14:  Our Enjoy the City coupon book fundraiser kicks off.
  • September 15:  Concert Chorus will sing for the PTO volunteer breakfast.
  • September 24:  All-State Chorus musicianship and sight-singing tests.
  • October 11:  Combined choral concert at Wellington High School for both beginning and concert choruses.
  • November 18 and 19:  Solo and ensemble MPA.  We’ll be talking about this very soon.
  • December 3:  Beyond the Stage performance at the Kravis Center for  Concert Chorus.  This is also the date of WLMS Day at Barnes & Noble, and I may take Beginning Chorus for that, too, if I can figure out how to clone myself :-)
  • The dates for Winter Arts Festival aren’t finalized yet.  I’ll let you know as soon as they’re approved.

And that’s just first semester!  I’m tired just typing it!

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This is another of those “why is she talking about next year already?” posts.  But you need to know:  solo and ensemble performance assessment will take place in November this year.  That means that we will have less than three months to get ready, and I will be working with students trying out for All-State Chorus at the same time.  You don’t need to decide on a song now, but if you already know that you want to do a solo, please let me know.  And if you heard somebody sing something that you just have to sing, let me know that, too.  I’ll get my list started.

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Below are the links that will allow you to listen to the recordings made at our MPA performance.  I’ve listened to them numerous times now, and it always sounds superior to me!  I am not sure why, but the link labelled “When I am Silent” will play “Uncle Joe,” and vice versa.  So I’m still not a techie!

01 When I Am Silent

02 Uncle Joe

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Sing to the Lord a Joyful Song

The Song I Keep In My Heart

If you click on the links above, you will be able to hear the recordings from MPA.  So now you and your family can listen to your performance as often as you like!

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I want to congratulate both Beginning and Concert Choruses.  You all did a wonderful job yesterday, and you are all Superior in my eyes!  I know you did your best, and that’s all I ask.  For anybody who was gone by the time I got the scores, Concert Chorus got an overall Superior rating, with Superior in sight-singing and two Superiors and one Excellent on stage.  Beginning Chorus also got a Superior in sight-singing, and Excellent from each of the three stage judges, for an overall Excellent rating.  I haven’t gone through all the judges’ comments yet.  We’ll leave that for next week.
I’m also pleased with how well most of you conducted yourselves while we were at MPA.  There were only a few students whose behavior in the auditorium wasn’t up to my expectations.  I hope you enjoyed listening to the other groups.  I only had the chance to hear the choirs from Jupiter Middle School; you will have to tell me about the other groups.
My husband says to tell you that he’s sorry you didn’t get the scores you wanted, but he’s happy that I don’t need to color my hair.  And now we can look forward to spring concert and lots of fun music.  So enjoy your weekend, and we’ll get back to work on Monday.

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