Washington’s First State Choral Leadership Academy a Success

At 9:00 am on Saturday, September 16, 86 high school students and 14 music teachers from as far away as Omak and Wenatchee landed at the Gonzaga University Music Annex for Washington’s first State Choral Leadership Academy.

Conceived by the Washington Music Educators Association and the American Choral Directors Association, the aim of the pilot program was to teach students how to lead in sectionals, basic rehearsal techniques, and vocalises.

Hosting the academy was a natural fit for Gonzaga, whose music department has defined one of its strategic goals as providing best practices for choir pedagogy. Music Department Chair Dr. Timothy Westerhaus embraced the opportunity to lead the workshops and was able to secure an AVP Community Engagement Grant to help subsidize the day’s activities.

Westerhaus wasn’t the only Gonzaga representative involved in the day, however. Organizers also solicited the aid of GU’s choral leaders and music education majors to work with the students, providing a safe place to practice techniques of leadership and leading one another while working right alongside GU students.

“I’m so impressed by these high school students,” said Westerhaus. “But I’m also grateful for this experience for our own students. It was a great opportunity for them to grow as music educators, too.”

Gonzaga will continue to serve as a resource for excellence in the Inland Northwest with a fresh group of high school leaders at 2018’s Choral Leadership Academy.

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