Apr 28, 2017
Dr. Amanda Quist takes us through a typical warm-up for the
Westminster Choir College freshman choir. You’ll learn how, in just
5-7 minutes, she addresses the building blocks of great sound.
Plus, you’ll take some fun detours into topics like cell phone
policy and how to classify voices. Listen:
Highlight to Tweet: “You need to have 3 ways to
solve any problem” - Amanda Quist Show Notes:
3 Key Takeaways:
- Amanda directs the (compulsory) freshman choir at WCC, so she
is first director students meet. Her goal is to take a group of
unfamiliar singers with widely-varying levels of experience and
make a unison sound.
- Day 1: sing and build community (students see how they are
connected); talk about music they love, their major, who they are;
start with voice building - 5-7 minute warm up; next do something
- Low energy? Have them move...step-touches, or something
fast-paced like a call and response.
- Buy in is tougher for the students without choir experience.
Knowing the reason behind the exercises helps them buy in.
- No cell phone use in rehearsal, no tolerance.
- Breath - long exhalations on different sounds; must warm up
breath, it’s connected to mindfulness
- Tone - balance between light and dark (chiaroscuro)
- Intonation - clear and resonant, with clear overtones; begin
building triads; build their ears with solfege scales, scales in
- Sight-reading is the most crucial skill for incoming freshmen
- Go into rehearsal with a plan, but be willing to change it when
you assess the energy level of the students.
- The fundamentals are crucial and should be practiced every
rehearsal: voice-building, breath, tone, intonation.
- The most valuable skill a high school director can give their
students is the ability to sight-read.
Dr. Amanda Quist is Associate Professor of
Conducting at Westminster Choir College, where she conducts the
Chapel Choir, Westminster Kantorei, and teaches graduate and
undergraduate conducting. Kantorei was selected to perform at the
Eastern Division ACDA Conference in February 2014 for her “Building
Sound” workshop, was invited to sing at the American Handel
Festival the previous year, and was selected as a National Finalist
for the American Prize. During her work with the Westminster
Symphonic Choir she collaborated with the New York Philharmonic,
Philadelphia Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, and composers Ola
Gjeilo and Tarik O’Regan. Dr. Quist recently served as Chorus
Master for the North American premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s
Matsukaze for Spoleto Festival USA and the Lincoln Center Festival.
The New York Times and Charleston Post and Courier reviews
described the chorus’ performance as “beautifully prepared,”
“gripping,” with a “gossamer web of voices,” and “bridging the
vocal and instrumental textures with perfect intonation.” Dr. Quist
is Director of the Westminster Vocal Institute, and she was
previously Director of Choral Activities at San José State
University. She was selected to be the 2014 recipient of
Westminster of Rider University’s Distinguished Teaching Award, and
other honors include the prestigious James Mulholland National
Choral Fellowship and the Audrey Davidson Early Music Award. Her
research focus is voice science and pedagogy in the choral setting,
and she recently presented an Interest Session for the National
ACDA Conference in Salt Lake City. An active adjudicator and
clinician, recent and upcoming appearances include the California
All-State, Texas All-State, Delaware All-State, Tennessee
All-State, and Vermont All-State honor choirs. She has also
conducted honor choirs and served as an adjudicator in Arizona,
Michigan, New York, Arkansas, Georgia, and New Jersey. She recently
served as the Pennsylvania ACDA Summer Conference headliner, and as
summer conducting faculty for Connecticut State University. An
active mezzo-soprano, recent solo engagements include performances
with the Monmouth Civic Chorus and Orchestra, Symphony Silicon
Valley, Fuma Sacra, Princeton Pro Musica, and Princeton University.
Dr. Quist serves as the National ACDA R&S Chair for Youth and
Student Activities and ACDA Mentorship Co-Chair. Sponsored
by: Sight Reading
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