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Formerly the Find Your Forte podcast - Step up to the podium with purpose and make the most of your public or private school's choral program with solutions you never saw coming! Join Choir Ninja, Ryan Guth as he brings you weekly interviews with veteran in-the-trenches choral directors on how to manage your choir, teach concepts like sight-singing and group vocal technique, market your program, and help inspire a love of choral music in your students each day.
 
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It's that time again! Back-to-school, new church choir season, community choir getting back into it... Remember to B.R.E.A.T.H.E. Listen as Ryan gives a warm hug of encouragement and a few well-timed reminders to make sure you get started right and stay strong all year! Sponsored by Choirs Are Horrible - The card game for choir nerds…
 
This is the final episode of the Choir Ninja Podcast. As always, the goal is to bring value to you choir directors, so Ryan gives you a chance to get to know the people behind the companies that have supported this show. Listen to their origin stories, their goals, and what motivates them to make the choral world better everyday. Ryan also has ...…
 
Imposter syndrome is real, and it means that you are human and have achieved success. Be thankful that you have these feelings; they mean you are accomplishing something worthwhile. But that doesn’t make it easy to deal with. For this penultimate podcast episode, Ryan returns to one of the post prevalent issues plaguing directors. Name your imp ...…
 
We begin the Choir Ninja wrap up with a countdown of the stats, names, and episodes that define us. In this antepenultimate episode, Ryan and Stevie look back on the moments and interviews that have stayed with them. Did they mention your favorites? [Subscribe on iTunes] [Subscribe on Android] Show Notes: 2 Names Find Your Forte Choir Ninja 226 ...…
 
At the end of this episode, Ryan Guth makes an important announcement about Choir Ninja. If you’ve ever felt stuck in your job, like you couldn’t make your reality match your vision, this episode is for you. Anna Dore talks about what she, as an elementary choir and band director, learned from the Choir Ninja podcast that helped her transform f ...…
 
November 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of World War I. It’s an unprecedented milestone of the modern era. Dr. Paul Aitken will observe that anniversary in concert with a performance of his moving and beloved setting of the poem “Flanders Fields,” on location at the Flanders Fields battlefield in Belgium. Dr. Aitken ...…
 
Life’s happy out in the sticks. It’s also hard, inconvenient, and sometimes lonely. But in this episode, Dr. Dee Wilkins talks to Ryan about why it’s worth it. There are real limitations in rural schools: numbers and funding will always be less than you want. But with creativity, heart, and an entrepreneurial mindset, you can still show you stu ...…
 
This episode first aired in July 2017: Drawing on lessons learned while losing at pool, Ryan shares what it means to have an entrepreneurial mindset as a choir director. You will hear strategies about how to win at pool, how to lose at pool, and how to embarrassingly injure a friend during pool (with a step by step guide in the show notes). You ...…
 
Imposter Syndrome is a thief; it steals joy from success, and pride from achievement. Feeling like your accolades are undeserved is a common occurrence among artists. Even when you feel secure in your abilities, the fear of looking foolish can keep you from taking the risks that lead to amazing opportunities. Ryan and Stevie discuss how to beat ...…
 
Yes, your concerts should meet educational standards. Yes, they should also meet your own goals for helping your singers become better musicians. But how about planning concerts so powerful that they change people's’ lives? What if your concerts actually strengthened bonds in your community? Dr. Abby Musgrove from Illinois College talks with Ry ...…
 
No matter where you direct, there never seems to be enough time or enough money. But there is a ready made support system of people already invested in the success of your program that may help you reclaim more of each. Lara Wolford discusses ways to use parent boosters to help with everything from fundraising to running sound at you concerts. ...…
 
Just ask. Ask people to come to your concert. Ask people to donate. Ask people to be changed by your music. Sam Brukhman gives the origin story of Verdigris, a new professional choir in the Dallas area. Verdigris is dedicated to the idea of exploring new space in choral music, with the goal of creating unique performances that challenge the aud ...…
 
Music selection is perhaps the most critical decision you make as a choir director. And making that decision can be completely overwhelming when you are looking for something you can successfully sing with 12 sopranos, 4 altos, and 2 basses. But music selection gives you the opportunity to create what Dr. Michael John Trotta calls a “culture of ...…
 
Not every musician follows the same path. A two-year community college may not be the first thing you think of when you consider pursuing a music studies, but Dr. Lisa Morales explains why it might be the best option for you or your students. Learn just how much can be accomplished in four semesters, and what it means to meet the needs of stude ...…
 
It’s your life; you really can set the goalposts wherever you want them. For those of you who want the top choir in the city, state, division, or country, Choir Ninja is here each week with podcasts to help you reach that goal. And for those of you who want a great choir, a weekly date night with your spouse, and the ability to attend all of yo ...…
 
Since beginning this podcast, Ryan has talked to composers, directors, singers, tour managers, authors, and teachers from around the country and the world. But one significant part of our audience has remained a mystery to him until now: parents. Today Ryan talks with Chris and Sarah Jarvis, who both teach at the same high school, and who are t ...…
 
You’ve worked hard in choir all year; now it’s time to play hard. Katy, TX Choir director Ruben Alcala shares a comprehensive guide to planning an end of year banquet that sends your students off in style. You can recognize achievements, celebrate student-selected awards, and acknowledge your seniors in a heartfelt and memorable way. Check out ...…
 
There is good work being done in music graduate school research projects. There is good work being done within our public school choir classes. But there is sadly little contact between these two realms. It’s time to step out of our silos and meet our students and audiences where they are. Ryan and Justin discuss Justin’s new book, Letters from ...…
 
So they pronounce their “t’s,” but not their “r’s.” What other differences are there between American choirs and our English friends? Victoria Hopkins, one of the creators and hosts of the Total Choir Resources Podcast chats with Ryan about the point of rehearsals, “note bashing,” workplace choirs, and first aid kits. It truly is inspiring to h ...…
 
Pearls of wisdom just drop out of Denise Eaton’s mouth with every sentence she speaks. In this episode, Denise and Ryan expand on some of the topics covered in her recent blog post (link in the notes below). There is practical advice here for every director, from first year to veteran. This episode WILL change how you direct or teach your choir ...…
 
Blind from birth, Ken Medema has always lived in a world of sound. Known and admired internationally for his improvisation skills, Ken outlines the steps to teaching your choir students how to improvise, unlocking both their voice and their courage. As a bonus, Ken also writes an impromptu country song about Ryan’s new bride, Amanda! [Subscribe ...…
 
It’s easy to fall into a rut. It can happen with the music we select, our teaching methods, and even the festivals we attend. But there are lots of opportunities for a festival experience that can reward and motivate your singers, while also giving them a valuable performance experience. Jess McDowell, from Winter Park Ski - Music festival, tal ...…
 
Performance anxiety is just the tip of the iceberg. Lynn Lyons breaks down the process of dealing with anxiety, and explains the difference between regular worry and something more disruptive. Her tips can easily be adapted to help the students in your class approach events like performances, solos, or auditions with more courage and confidence ...…
 
Success has a formula. Since this fall we have been talking to guests about achieving mastery, and now Melissa Lozano echoes those same lessons from a completely different discipline: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This world champion competitor brings her lessons from the ring so that you can apply them to your choir. [Subscribe on iTunes] [Subscribe on ...…
 
You have permission to be weird. You have permission to be creative, take risks, and make mistakes. Still unsure? Brian Hehn tells you exactly how easy, cheap, and fun it can be to introduce percussion to your choir, and the reasons why you should. Listen for some creative ways to incorporate percussion into the elements of your worship service ...…
 
The best way to grow your current high school choral program is to fertilize the soil. Start a great middle school feeder program, so that in high school you can spend less time on basic choir fundamentals and more time in depth with the music. Don’t worry if that seems like an impossible task; Adam Serpa breaks down all the steps for you. So w ...…
 
In December especially, choral directors spend their days focused on serving others so much that they often neglect their own needs. Here are some ways to stay charged in the coming weeks until Christmas! You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. You have so many in your choirs who depend on your gifts to get them th ...…
 
Dan V brings the energy in this episode! Having been a student of the Choir Ninja podcast since the beginning, Dan V uses the things he’s learned combined with his experience as a high-production-quality church musician to transport his choir’s audiences to other world. Listen as he breaks down his formula piece by piece. [Subscribe on iTunes] ...…
 
Four Functions of the Church Choir: Check Your Priorities, with Brian Hehn Brian Hehn will fundamentally change the way you approach directing a church choir. In this episode we explore the four functions of a church choir and how most of us have gotten it backwards for years. It’s time to get excited about enhancing the congregation’s relation ...…
 
Some of our episodes are inspirational in nature, and some are instructive. This one is both. You can’t help but be amazed by what the National Children’s Chorus is doing with their 800 students in 18 ensembles based in 3 major cities. Artistic Director Luke McEndarfer discusses what is ahead for this world-class chorus. But also, you get to he ...…
 
The Cost of Early Adoption, with Ryan Guth The best choir directors are innovators, which is great for their choirs. But there are costs and risks involved in blazing a new trail, and those risks don’t just land on your shoulders, Director; they are shared by your choir. So before you implement that new vision or schedule or teaching method, ma ...…
 
TEACHERS: Share this episode with your choir! In our “winning is everything” culture, the goals of competition seem crystal clear: the medal, the role, the spot in the honor choir. Sometimes when the competition is fierce, those rewards don’t seem worth the effort. But there are rewards inherent in the audition process, and they are enduring. C ...…
 
Just because you graduated high school, graduated college, and got a job doesn’t mean that you won’t sometimes still feel like the new kid. Ryan checks back in with podcast favorite and Ukulele Ninja Christopher Kurt about his first quarter teaching in a new school. Sometimes you just need to change your life. Whether that means a new methodolo ...…
 
Stevie Berryman’s original podcast about writing an awesome biographical summary was a big hit with anyone who could overlook such a tedious topic long enough to listen. And that’s the point. Your bio shouldn’t be boring. And even if you have no professional need to submit a bio for an event, every director can benefit from the self-reflection ...…
 
Nightmare fuel. I don’t have any other words to describe this choral horror experience, shared by Shane Thomas, Jr. Like all the best Halloween stories, it’s equal parts trauma and comedy. So if you are feeling brave, dear Director, go ahead and listen to the scariest story shared in Choir Nation. Listen [Subscribe on iTunes] [Subscribe on Andr ...…
 
Conrad Weber is a white, middle class man who has spent his entire music education career in a black, high-poverty school. Conrad talks to Ryan about how to build bridges across the cultural chasm, in a situation where none of the usual standards apply. This interview is raw and heartfelt, and is one everyone should hear, but will especially re ...…
 
You probably never studied graphic design, but your audience still deserves a concert program that doesn’t look like a church bulletin from 1998. If the economic and ecologic costs of paper programs have you concerned, Ryan is here to teach you how to go digital. He will lay out the advantages of digital programs, address some of the disadvanta ...…
 
Anne Tomlinson has served as Los Angeles Children’s Chorus Artistic Director since 1996, overseeing the educational and artistic development of the 400-member chorus and conducting LACC’s renowned Concert Choir and Chamber Singers. She has positively impacted the lives of thousands upon thousands of children and helped shape LA’s cultural lands ...…
 
Whether you’ve been fundraising for years or are just getting started, you should always be asking “How can I make more money with less time and effort?” It’s not really about selling a product; it’s about thinking like an entrepreneur. In this episode, Elisa lays out the steps for raising money without taking unnecessary time away from your ch ...…
 
Choirs are Horrible the card game comes out today! Coach Steve Cook is the head football coach at the same Higginsville, MO high school where his wife Sarah Cook is a choir director. He has some recommendations for choir directors who want to build a cooperative relationship with their school’s athletic department (other than marrying the head ...…
 
As choir directors, we train hard to be able to help our singers and students. But whether you studied Music Ed or Sacred Music, it’s unlikely that financial literacy was part of your program. Today Ryan outlines how to read your credit report, and gives some simple tips for strengthening your credit score. Listen [Subscribe on iTunes] [Subscri ...…
 
Church musicians, this is the episode you have been waiting for. One of the most respected directors in the field, Terry Price talks with Ryan about the unique challenges of directing a church choir. This episode is packed with wisdom and actionable advice, but the one about the label maker...we’ll just say that if you don’t already keep one in ...…
 
Achieving Mastery, with Ryan Guth and Stevie Berryman Ryan and Stevie discuss ways choir directors can increase their grit and become masters in their field. Citing Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, they discuss what separates people who want to the be the best in their field from those who actually are. You’ll le ...…
 
A composition entrepreneur, Ryan Main explains the three paths to getting your music published, and tells you what you need to do to succeed in each of them. Through the successes and failures of Kansas City Music Publishing, Ryan learned the nuts and bolts of publishing, and today he shares with you the pros and cons of the three main avenues ...…
 
A Choir Ninja Rewind Today we bring you an encore airing of one of our most popular interviews with a Houston-area director. In today’s episode Ryan and Denise Eaton look at her layering method of sequential teaching. In other words, this is a breakdown of her step-by-step process for teaching a new choral piece to her choirs. Listen: Highlight ...…
 
A Choir Ninja Rewind Today we bring you an encore airing of one of our most popular interviews with a Houston-area director. In today’s episode (Part 1) you will learn what Texas music educator and superstar, Denise Eaton, looks at when choosing repertoire for her choirs so they can be successful a learning through her innovative sequential lay ...…
 
Stevie Berryman reflects on what it means to return to “normal” after Hurricane Harvey. Part science primer, part therapeutic catharsis, this essay encourages teachers and directors to keep doing their best work, whatever that work is. If you are struggling, if you are weary...it’s okay; you’re in good company. It’s not your fault. You can blam ...…
 
For the next few episodes, the Choir Ninja podcast will focus on Voices From Houston, lifting up the directors in south Texas as they recover from Hurricane Harvey. This first episode in the series feature a replay of an interview that originally aired back in 2015. This interview is exactly what you need to start the new school year! A truly w ...…
 
Some of our episodes talk about a conductor’s journey as a musician, or their philosophical understanding of the nature of choral music. Some episodes are pure toolkits: here’s what you need to solve your problems. This episode has the rare distinction of being both. Dr. Kronauer and Ryan cover the “hows” of directing teenage male voices, as we ...…
 
Happy Birthday, teachers, it’s the episode you’ve asked for! Tech expert Greig Ashurst shares his favorite apps and software for your choir classroom. Ryan and Greig go deep into ways to use a few of these tools to make your rehearsals more productive, but make sure you check out the show notes for an expanded list of essential music tech to ex ...…
 
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