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Festivals: Dreaming, Making and Maintaining the “Magic” of Song

By guest blogger Melody Gamblin-Bullock, General and Artistic Director, Forte Dallas Choral Festival (Crescendo Arts Enterprises)

In a time where budgets are being cut, teachers being released, and programs slashed a million different ways, one must ponder… “How am I going to make music, make those magical music moments this year??”  The answer is not simple, but profound… WE MUST FIND A WAY!  The students deserve it, the culture needs it, and the future of the arts and arts programs is, indeed, ours to continue breathing life into!  Festivals provide a great opportunity to accomplish your large and small goals.  Remember, the terms “contests” and “festivals” are sometimes used interchangeably — they can be adjudicated, non-adjudicated, competitive, and even non-competitive.

Kids need something to look forward to and work towards.  Pick a festival you can participate in, be it as an individual group, or better yet, a festival where you can join with others who have your vision for the greater good of an outstanding musical experience.  Make certain that you have considered multiple financial vehicles that can help defray the expenses that accompany such endeavors and aide in your students’ enjoyment.  “How?”  you might ask.  One of the ways is to plan-Plan-PLAN.

Plan a student fundraiser… it gives them a sense of accomplishment.  Have the parents/boosters plan a fundraiser… it gives them a sense of belonging.  Think “outside the box”… with a little ingenuity the students can fund-raise their way to an experience of a lifetime.  You can hold a silent auction with a dinner included.  How about partnering with the local nursery and selling bedding plants?  Have a favorite restaurant (or two) in town?  Ask them to have a “Friends of the High School” night where they get the extra business and you get a percentage of the proceeds.  Car washes still work well.  Ever thought about promoting a nonprofit tax donation?  (Your program!!)

Let your imagination go…

From the smallest program to the largest and all the ones in between – students deserve to be part of an outstanding musical experience.  Plan that extra musical experience.  Make some “magic” in your rehearsal room and for the entire year.

Melody Gamblin-Bullock, choral music educator and conductor, is currently the Director of Choral Activities at Brookhaven College, director of the Brookhaven Choral Society, and artistic director of the Spirituals Renaissance Chorale.  While serving as assistant director of the Dallas Symphony Chorus, she prepared for noted performances with conductors Thomas Wilkins, Marvin Hamlisch, and Zap Van Zweden.  She also developed a Sight-reading Initiative for the Dallas ISD, and remains in demand as a consultant, in-service clinician and adjudicator to school districts in Texas and throughout the Southwest.  She is presently pursuing doctoral studies at Texas Tech University.  She also serves as a member of the Irving (Texas) Arts Board, and has taught in the music departments of Texas Christian University and Texas Tech University.  Professional affiliations include the American Choral Directors Association, Texas Choral Directors Association, Texas Music Educators Association, and Sigma Alpha Iota international music fraternity.

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