Where the Music Comes From:
Repertoire as Rehearsal Pedagogy
Doreen Rao, PhD
Elmer Iseler Chair in Conducting Emeritus
University of Toronto
Director, CME Institute for Choral Teacher Education
Everyone knows that quality repertoire is key to the development of musicianship in the choir. Diverse and distinguished choral music permeates the publishing industry’s inventory making it almost effortless for conductors and music educators to make culturally sensitive and socially responsible curriculum choices. But how do choral teachers today move from an understanding of the repertoire itself to deeply meaningful and transformative musical experiences?
Lee Hoiby’s poem Where the Music Comes From frames this presentation as it moves from the question of repertoire choices toward the examination of teaching practices we call rehearsal pedagogy. How does the repertoire itself reveal systematic clues to an effective pedagogy and meaningful singing experience? Simply stated, how does the music tell us what to do?
Doreen Rao’s presentation “Repertoire as Rehearsal Pedagogy” will examine the relationship between the performance goals of choral artistry and music education with the cultural and social values of diversity, inclusion and social responsibility. She will introduce the notion of “socially engaged musicianship” as a way of moving beyond the traditional objectives of beautiful vocal tone and musical “literacy” toward music making as an innately personal way of being in the world.
Citing Benjamin Britten and Leonard Bernstein, the discussion will show how the lives and works of socially conscious and politically minded composers from separate continents suggest a new kind of choral pedagogy.
In contrast to the traditional curriculum based on the “concepts of music,” or repertoire composed or arranged to teach a particular set of musical skills, the presentation looks to artistically and educationally appropriate choral repertoire as a cultural, historic and social environment in which students learn to explore, affirm and celebrate their relationship with the music, themselves and the world around them.
Dr. Rao will illustrate the process of moving smoothly from score preparation to rehearsal pedagogy. Her discussion will underscore how repertoire based pedagogy supports the outcomes of practical intelligence, engaged musicianship and social sensitivity, 21st century values for music education.