To Sum It Up: The 2013 Summer Institute

By Howard Meharg

“Another amazing session filled with inspiration, plenty of learning opportunities, and the fun of seeing friends and colleagues again…that describes it for me,” said a Summer Institute attendee regarding the 2013 conference. Attendance remained high with 220 people registered for this, the 18th year for Washington ACDA’s main event, held again on the beautiful campus of the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma.

Lori Wiest, our immediate past-president said, “The vibrancy of participants greeting one another, new friends and long-time friends, talking about music, experiences, and ideas, and embracing our new attendees with warmth and encouragement is simply amazing.” (Please read Lori’s complete summary HERE.)gackle

Lynne Gackle of Baylor University was this year’s chief presenter. Among other books, Lynne is the author of Finding Ophelia’s Voice, Opening Ophelia’s Heart:  Nurturing the Adolescent Female Voice, published by Heritage Music Press. Her
sstudentessions on Thursday morning of this event dealt with the adolescent female voice and the changes that take place from childhood through young adulthood.

Lynne provided practical demonstration of her techniques in classifying young female voices according to voice changes by working with five talented young singers from the Seattle Girls’ Choir. The girls represented four of the five ensembles from that organization: Vivissimi (Grades 3-4), Allegra (Grades 5-6), Cantamus (7-8), and Prime Voci (9-12), according to Allegra Director Aimee Mell.iverson-et-al

Two superb singers from Western Washington University, Taylor Iverson and Emma Eliason, students of Leslie Guelker-Cone, provided good models for Lynne’s ideas on noting “lift” points in the voice and what to listen for as one classifies and assigns voice parts.

Thursday evening’s session on conducting allowed time for each of seven people to work with the director choir and for Lynne Gackle to observe and critique conducting technique. This year’s “student” conductors were Cindy Christensen of Sherwood, OR; McKenzie Clark, a WWU student from Issaquah; Brian Mitchell, Mark Morris H. S., Longview; Robert West, Las Vegas; Justin Raffa, Mid-Columbia Master Chorale, Kennewick; Nicholas Gorne, Bethel H. S., Spanaway; and Kylie Lewinski, Olympia.


Dr. Gackle clearly enjoyed herself, saying “I had a wonderful time in Washington. It was great to be in the beauty of your state and to enjoy the hospitality of you and your colleagues!”


The Leadership and Service Award
Since 1996, WA-ACDA has given this prestigious award to a member of the association who has exhibited outstanding qualities in the areas of musicianship and leadership.  These qualities Include, but are not limited, to:

  • Producer of outstanding choirs, worthy of performing at regional or national ACDA conferences;
  • Programmer of a wide variety of literature of the highest quality;
  • Proven abilities as an inspiring and effective clinician, adjudidemierocator, and/or conductor;
  • An effective communicator;
  • Demonstrated loyalty and service to ACDA at local, state, divisional, and/or national levels;
  • A model of strong character and integrity.

Frank DeMiero
The prestigious “Leadership and Service Award” was given to Frank DeMiero.

Lori Wiest, out-going president of WA ACDA, presented Frank and outlined his accomplishments to the Summer Institute audience.

In part of her introduction she said, “His impressive resume is one with which we are probably familiar; but, let’s do the short version so that the picture of this great educator becomes clear.  Frank went to Olympic College, EWU and CWU.  He taught high school for nine years, then founded Soundsation, still a top Vocal Jazz group in the world, while teaching at Edmonds Community College.  Frank and his family provided the Northwest with the finest Vocal Jazz Camp for 25 years and served more than 6,000 students and educators with the best experiences with which to return and share with their programs.  Frank served as the Chairman of the Music Department as well during his long and successful tenure at Edmonds using administrative skills that he lent also to many professional organizations like MENC, IAJE and ACDA in important leadership roles.”

Lori’s complete statement and Frank’s response can be found HERE.

The Outstanding Choral Director Award
crouseBernard Crouse

The state’s “Outstanding Choral Director” award for 2013 went to Bernard Crouse of Spanaway Lake High School. Lori had this to say about Barney (as he’s called by his friends):

“The winner of the Outstanding Choral Director Award has been serving our art and his community for over three decades, and has been the director at Spanaway Lake High School in Spanaway, WA since 1985.  He has been named Bethel School District Teacher of the Year and has received the Pierce County, Washington, Arts Commission’s Margaret K. Williams Award for Excellence in Arts Education.  His choirs have performed several times at the Washing Music Educators Conference, and at the Washington Arts Time Conference, the Washington State PTA Convention, the School Director’s Convention, and the School Administrators Association Convention.

Our recipient consistently sets high expectations for his students, and as a result, they love him and work hard to “Expect Excellence.”   This director provides, according to his district’s fine arts coordinator, ‘a nurturing environment for his students, giving them opportunities to collaborate, to learn new concepts and skills, and to take risks.’”

In Barny’s own words, “What I thought upon hearing from Lori that I was receiving this award was: “Since 1971 I have been sitting in audiences and watching others receive awards; and to be honest, being a little envious: wishing I could do what they do.  What I have learned over the years is just to keep attending workshops – absorb all you can – and then pass those ideas on to others. That sharing is the real, fulfilling joy of being an educator.”

The Outstanding Emerging Director Award
Justin Raffa
This year’s “Outstanding Emerging Director Award” went to Justin Raffa of Kennewick, Washington.

“Justin Raffa moved to the Tri-Cities in 2008 to become the Artistic Director of Mid-Columbia Mastersingers. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Westminster Choir College and a Master’s Degree from University of Arizona. In addition to his work with the Mastersingers, he is a member of Male Ensemble Northwest and Chor Anno, and is fresh off of his first summer at the Oregon Bach Festival.”

Justin’s colleague in the Tri-Cities area, Reg Unterseher, sums up the prevailing view about Justin: “He is a dynamic leader, an excellent conductor and teacher, and a significant presence in our community.”

The Spiritus Award
Doug and Janet Anderson of DJ Records

The winner of this year’s Spiritus Award is DJ Records, aka Doug and Janet Anderson of Trout Lake, Washington.doug

Lori Wiest had this to say as she presented the award:

“The 2013 Spiritus Award is given to a business dedicated to connecting performers and listeners to quality choral literature and recorded performance for 30 years. The company is guided by the vision and philosophy of its founder and owner, an acclaimed high school choral music educator, conductor, innovator, clinician, adjudicator, and author. His basic philosophy, “that selected listening should be an important ingredient in the development of a successful choral director’s career,” is shared by Janet, his life and business partner, an experienced pianist, organist, and elementary music teacher.”

SI Presenters Wednesday and Thursday morrissey
Darcy Morrissey
, Director of the Bellevue Girlchoir, opened the conference with an interest session titled “Building Musicianship in the Choral Rehearsal.” She covered basics for teaching students musicianship skills. Darcy said, “The session focused on shifting the paradigm: that sight singing is the most valued skill in the choral classroom.  We should, instead focus on mastering a myriad of musicianship skills that deeply inform our choristers including: conducting, part-work, playing an instrument, arranging, composing, inner hearing etc…. We, as educator/conductors can facilitate this skill mastery in the choral setting by offering the simplest sight singing materials (so-mi & ta-ti-ti) and creating differentiated levels to individually challenge even the expert ‘Rebecca’
mbell-raffausicians in our choral classroom.”

The late morning sessions were given to reading music for female voices, presented by Jenny Bell of Mountain View High School, Vancouver, and male voice literature led by Justin Raffa who sings with Male Ensemble Northwest and lives in Kennewick.


Children’s and Community Youth Choir music reading sessions were offered by Aimee Mell of the Seattle Girls’ Choir and Sara Boos, who conducts the Northwest Girlchoir. Judy Herrington and Peter Robb both assisted with the session, presenting their own works that were provided in the packet.

Summer Institute’s traditional “Roundtable Lunch” (all part of the price of admission) was held on the lawn near the UPS Music Building.


Following lunch, concurrent reading sessions were offered. Participants had the opportunity to readhughes-etal music selected for college and university level choirs. J. Edmund Hughes, composer and retired college director (formerly of Arizona) led a reading session for community college directors and Anne Lyman of UPS presented her selections for university choirs. In the meantime, in the lower hall at Kilworth, Dan Davison conducted music for middle school students.bourne

“Growing Non-Select Choirs from Singing Experiences in General Music” was Patty Bourne’s topic for the first interest session. Patty, who is coordinator of music education at WWU, said, “Growing a ‘quality’ chorus from singing experiences in general music occurs when the teacher 1) values singing instruction, 2) establishes a school culture that believes in singing well, 3) teaches habits and routines that build great vocal habits,  4) considers song choices thmendezat relate to their students, and 5) wants to hear musicality from students of all ages.”

While Patty worked with her audience upstairs, in the lower auditorium Max Mendez demonstrated the use of the latest technology for use in the choral rehearsal.

Concurrent reading session were then offered from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. in vocal jazz with Mike Scott and with community choir music led by Mark Kkloepper-murphyloepper, Northwest Chamber Chorus, and Mike Murphy, University of Idaho, Moscow.scott

Mike Scott’s vocal jazz reading session featured his own demonstration choir and tunes ranging from elementary to collegiate level. He featured many northwest arrangers such as Dave Cazier, Jason Olson, Laurie Cappello, Kirk Marcy, Natalie Wilson, and Jamie Dyer.

Following the awards presentations, SI participants moved back to the beautiful campus grounds of UPS for their second meal of the day, the great salmon dinner…now a hallmark of WA ACDA’s Summer Institute.

salmon dinner

Thursday, July 18
On Thursday, July 18, participants began their day with Lynne Gackle and her presentation concerning the adolescent female voice, both undertanding the issues related to voice changes and then being able to offer classification according to what one hears.

davisonDan Davison, who teaches at Ballou Junior High School in Puyallup, himself a “rising star” among his colleagues and middle school choral directors around the country, continued the teaching…his subject the male changing voice.

Barbara Tappa from Ferris High School in Spokane and Brian Mitchell, Mark Morris High School in Longmitchell-tappaview conducted music they had chosen specifically for use by high school directors.

ulrich-guelker-coneMusic in Worship, under the leadership of Joel Ulrich and Leslie Guelker-Cone, headed a reading session devoted to church use. Various leaders contributed.mckee

Another R & S leader, Kurt McKee provided a huge potential repertoire in the Ethnic and Multicultural R&S area. Kurt directs music at Emerald Ridge High School.

Thursday evening’s events concluded with the conducting master class. Julie Parsons organized this event. See photo above.

Friday, July 19
As is customary with our Summer Institute, Friday morning is given in its entirety to our guest presenter. Dr. Gackle continued with her presentation on the female voice, her title “Painting with Sound: the Female Voice and Choral Tone.” She then wrapped it all up with a reawesterhaus-hoskinsding of the music she had selected.

Accompanists for the 2013 event were Tim Westerhaus, Director of Choral Activities at Gonzaga University in Spokane and Brian Hoskins, Director of Choral Music at Lindbergh High School in Renton, WA

J. W. Pepper supplied the books that contained music chosen by presenters who were, in turn, selected by WA ACDA’s R&mell-readingS board members. All participants got ALL music. Few individual octavos were used and each category and presenter had a book with his or name on it. The books were redesigned this year by J. W. Pepper to allow for easier use at the keyboard.

Board meets Friday afternoon and Saturday, July 19 and 20, 2013
The WA ACDA board convened at 2:30 p.m. on Friday to evaluate the 2013 event and to lay plans for 2014.

The people who made it all possible…the WA ACDA board. Heartfelt thanks to Marc Hafso, who leaves the board from his position as Past-President, Leora Schwitters, Treasurer, Sue Green, Membership Chair, and Joel Ulrich, Music in Worship Chair, and Barbara Tappa, Eastern Liaison.


After 18 years, the SI, according to some reports is a “well-oiled machine.” Nevertheless, an active and enthusiastic board seems to always be aware that improvements are possible. A survey went out by email in the early hours of Friday, the 19th, asking 2013 participants to evaluate their experience. Dozens of responses were available to the board by the Friday afternoon meeting. All will be tabulated and ideas and critiques considered as plans take shape for next year.

The 2014 Summer Institute will feature Dr. Angela Broeker, Director of Choral Activities at University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota. Read more…>

This was the schedule for the 2013 Summer Institute. Click here for PDF with complete schedule…>

WA-ACDA Summer Institute (sponsored by WA-ACDA, University of Puget Sound School of Music, and J. W. Pepper


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