In choir rooms everywhere, one can observe rehearsals where students are singing beautifully and responding to prompts from the conductor about rhythms and pitches, releases and vowel shapes. But all may not be as it appears. Recent research demonstrates a disconnect between the knowledge and experiences that music educators believe they are teaching and what the singers are actually learning. As a result, the ensemble sounds great, but the individuals within the group fail to develop the desired skill sets that lead to independent musicianship.
This course examines ways to engage the individual learner while interacting with the whole ensemble.  Included will be suggestions for how to use language in the rehearsal as well as data-driven assessment models that can demonstrate individual growth to students, parents and administration.
  • Understand the importance of individual teaching rhetoric in a choral ensemble setting
  • Identify different uses for individual teaching rhetoric for student learning
  • Plan for individualized instruction in the ensemble rehearsal
  • Design for individual assessment and document individual growth


VanderCook's Dean of Graduate Studies Dr. Robert L. Sinclair has served the college as Director of Choral Activities since 2001. His educational background includes three years at Luther College, where he sang in the Nordic Choir under the direction of Weston Noble. After transferring to Sam Houston State University, he completed his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Music degrees with B.R. Henson. In December of 2000, Dr. Sinclair completed a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction (music education) at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he worked with Drs. David Rayl and Wendy Sims. Dr. Sinclair has 10 years of public school teaching experience and has presented sessions to the Music Educators Associations of Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, and Texas, the Illinois Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), as well as the Southwestern and Southern Divisions of ACDA. He continues to work as an active choral clinician and adjudicator for junior high and high school students from across the nation and abroad, including honor choirs in Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, and Japan in addition to all state choirs in Illinois and Wisconsin. Dr. Sinclair is an active member of ACDA, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity, Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honors Fraternity, and the National Association for Music Education.
Nolker,_Brett_Headshot_Sp15Dr. Brett Nolker is an associate professor of music education at the University of North Carolina–Greensboro, specializing in choral and secondary-level general music education. He is a founding member of the Music Research Institute at UNCG and is active in music education research, primarily in the areas of music teacher education, music literacy, and in the developing of individual skills in the ensemble setting. Dr. Nolker is an active professional leader serving in various positions at the state and national levels. He is active in the National Association for Music Education, having served as National Chair for the Special Research Interest Groups for Sociology in Music Education and Music Perception and Cognition. Dr. Nolker has taught vocal and instrumental music in the public schools of Colorado and Missouri, where his ensembles were frequently invited to appear on convention and festival programs. He appears throughout the nation as a guest conductor, clinician and festival adjudicator. He holds degrees from Central Methodist College in Fayette, MO, the Wichita State University in Wichita, KS, and the University of Missouri–Columbia. 

VanderCook College of Music - (312) 225-6288