This past summer, Pepper had the pleasure of hosting four of the nation’s top clinicians for a recent Joy of Singing workshop. While they were here, we brought them together to discuss their experiences with teaching, focusing especially on middle school. Before you watch the video, here’s some background on each clinician as well as a glimpse at their thoughts on working with middle school students:
Among the great 20th century composers, Leonard Bernstein stands out as having impacted perhaps the widest range of musical styles. His works can be heard in concert halls, musical theater venues, on the silver screen, and in places of worship.
Music education is a pivotal part of keeping our culture alive, and the teachers who carry out this mission need the support of other musicians to secure the future of music. In the world of choral and classroom music, Greg Gilpin has taken up that call. As Director of Educational Choral Publications for Shawnee Press, Gilpin spends his days helping teachers unlock the full potential of their young singers.
For composer Craig Courtney, music has been a lifelong pursuit. He began picking up melodies on the piano at the age of three, and in his teens he analyzed recordings of classical masterworks. This immersion into music helped to foster Courtney’s passion for excellence and influenced the art he would create throughout his life.
Rollo Dilworth is a master of the modern spiritual. Growing up in St. Louis and singing in both school and church choirs, Dilworth learned how to combine choral music with traditional spirituals. This combination became the basis of many of his most beloved works. Choral music is a natural way of bringing people together because, as Dilworth says, “every single culture across this globe sings.”
A prolific composer of choral music, Andy Beck has written hundreds of works, vocal resource books, and children’s musicals. Among his most famous works are the method books Sing at First Sight and the gorgeously poetic The Snow Begins to Fall. His sheet music has graced the folders of choir members across the country and around the world, and Pepper was honored to speak with him as part of our Inside Voice series.
Keith Getty burst onto the scene in 2001 with In Christ Alone, a modern hymn that quickly became a staple of Christian worship services. The song, a partnership with Stuart Townend, is still his signature piece to this day, and though this partnership has continued through Getty’s career, his best-known collaborator is also his partner in life and love: Kristyn Getty.
The name Eric Whitacre is sure to turn heads anywhere musicians gather. While he is a composer of choral music first, his wide range of talents have enabled him to travel the world, writing music for different ensembles and performing with people from all walks of life.
Mary Lynn Lightfoot’s musical life started in the town of Canton, Missouri, where she began taking piano lessons at the age of four. As she grew up, she often played the piano for her church when the organist was away over the summer. Music helped to shape her life through high school, where she continued learning in both the band and choir. By the time she graduated, she had become so proficient that she received an instrumental scholarship to Truman State University (formerly Northeast Missouri State) for French horn.
Standing in the St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Hanover, Pennsylvania, it is not difficult to see how the beauty of religious devotion can inspire someone like Lloyd Larson to create such splendid choral pieces. Indeed, Larson considers himself a product of the church his family attended while growing up in Illinois.