Monday, February 15, 2010

Guest Blog by Angie Johnson

Dear friends,

From time to time I would love for folks to step forward and guest blog here- so don't be shy if you want to blog a little without taking on the task of having your own blog. Send me an e-mail if you would like to give it a go!

Please welcome Angie Johnson, the very talented artistic director of The Young Naperville Singers (Naperville, IL). All of the six YNS choirs are directed by highly trained, motivated lovers of music and of children- the vibe at YNS is fabulous! Angie in particular brings an amazing positive energy to her rehearsals. It was exciting to come work with them this past November/December.To read more about the Young Naperville Singers, visit

Here is Angie's' guest blog about the recent ACDA Children's Choir Conductors Retreat in Cincinnati:

It was a great roadtrip for three of my fellow directors and me to the ACDA Children’s Choir Conductor’s Retreat held recently in Cincinnati, OH. With a five hour car ride on either side of the conference, our expectations were high. We arrived late Friday night after a fun and laughter filled car ride, exhausted but anticipating a wonderful weekend. Usually, I am happy to walk away from a conference with a few new techniques, pieces or ideas and this conference did not disappoint us. In fact, it surpassed any conference that I have ever attended in the past. Each session contained inspiring, useful information or ideas that directly pertain to what we do in the real world. From a wonderful team building session full of new ideas to build community within your choir (Angela Broeker) to great sessions on introducing repertoire (Ruth Dwyer) and incorporating sight singing (Sandra Matthias); there was plenty to take home to think about. It was wonderful to see many directors introduce newer “gem pieces” or “War horse” pieces – all wonderful literature.

(L-R:YNS directors Angie Johnson, Jennifer Helwig,
Scott Isemunger, Anne Kasprzak)

Roundtable discussions were held where ideas, questions and discussions were raised about such topics as auditioning and placement hearings, warm-up ideas and a wonderful session led by the Executive Director, Tim Sharp; “Establishing the Opportunity For Every Child in the US to Sing”. Chorus America sent representatives as well to talk about Tackling Critical Issues Facing Children’s Choirs and they shared extremely beneficial research. Their membership director, Catherine Davies was on hand to present the recent findings of their Choral Impact Study.

Wonderful choirs were on hand to share their music; Cincinnati Children;s Choir, Columbus Children’s Choir and Indianapolis Children’s Choir. Some participants had the opportunity to conduct and work with the conducting and teaching talents of Heather Potter, Kelly Ann Westgate, Catherine Sailer and Henry Leck. Perhaps the best part of this entire experience was the opportunity to meet so many colleagues, re-connect with friends and share ideas one to another. The atmosphere was one of generosity and collaboration; “fellow learners” sharing their thoughts and approaches. For the first year director to directors who have programs we have long aspired to, it was a “not to be missed” conference.

It would be impossible to list everyone who contributed their time or talent to this conference but a special thank you to Robyn Lana, Linda Berg, Jena Dickey, Judith Herrington, Sharon Smith and Barbara Tagg for planning an extraordinary conference. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again in two years in the mile high city of Denver when the ACDA Children’s Choir Conductor’s Retreat is again held January 14-15, 2012.


  1. Thank you, Angie. It was an exciting weekend. Rewarding to see the vision come to life. And what a thrill to have it so well received by colleagues across the country. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your support in this project. We are looking forward to repeating every two years! See you in Denver, and hopefully at ACDA National in Chicago in 2011! - - Robyn

  2. The dream of having such a conference that specifically dealt with our Children's Choir issue became such a rich reality. Thank you, Angie, for coming and for being excited to see this project continue. Road trip from Chicago to Denver? Maybe not... Not a bad plane journey, though! Sharon

  3. Paul, what a cool website! Angie, what a beautiful letter! I agreed with everything you said, especially the "atmosphere of generosity and collaboration." It is truly amazing what a like-minded group of individuals can accomplish in this type of environment. Kudos to our national chair, Robyn Lana, for listening to our needs in OKC 10 months earlier, and brilliantly executing our first biennial retreat! Thanks also to Tim Sharp for his encouragement! See y'all in Denver. ~ Jena Dickey, host for 2012 event

  4. Perhaps the best part of this entire experience was the opportunity to meet so many colleagues, re-connect with friends and share ideas one to another and that brings an amazing positive energy to her rehearsals.

  5. It was wonderful to see many directors introduce newer “gem pieces” or “War horse” pieces – all wonderful literature.