We have believed for a long time that there is no person that has greater responsibility for the success and good health of a chapter than the "man up front", the chorus director. It naturally follows that the recruiting, training and encouragement of these men of music ought to be one of our paramount goals. It is also "a given" that every director has some room for improvement that could help him and his chorus improve in their music per- formance. So was born the program called, "Chorus Directors Workshop Intensive or CDWI".
The CDWI is a one day event where two trainers work with five directors in honing their directing skills. It is one of the most exciting and successful programs ever developed by the Society for chorus director improvement. It is virtually a "one on one" educational experience for the director. A host chapter is recruited for the event and then the directors in the area of the host chapter are invited to attend. It is intended that no one except pos- sibly the trainers should have to spend overnight in participating in such an event. This is, of course, difficult in some areas like Central and West Texas where chapters are fairly remote from one another. Virtually all costs except travel by the directors are now borne by the District.
The morning session is a discussion between just the directors and trainers with possibly one or two observers or apprentice trainers. The discussion will identify two directing skills that the director would like to improve. These areas could be different from director to director and the director himself makes the selection. The areas of improvement can be physical directing techniques for the director or it may be teaching techniques to correct problems with his home chorus.
The afternoon is spent with a chorus furnished by the host chapter with possibly some men from other nearby chapters. Each director has the opportunity to practice the skills he has chosen to work on directing the chorus with immediate coaching and feedback from a trainer. The songs are typically Pole Cat or other old familiar arrangements that most barbershoppers know. Each director is also video-taped so he can actually see and hear how his efforts appear and are affecting the chorus. Following this fifteen-minute session, the director and trainer retire to another room to review the video for further evaluation and coaching while the next director works with the other trainer in front of the chorus. This continues until each director has his turn with the chorus and video review. After a break, this routine is repeated with each director in front of the chorus with a different trainer doing the coaching and video review.
Virtually every director who has been through a CDWI experience thinks it's about the most useful training he has ever received. And it doesn't stop there. Each director is given his tape to take home with him and he can review it for further learning. Also, each director is asked to identify three men in his chorus at home to evaluate the results of the CDWI and submit their opinions in writing after three to six months.
CDWI should not be a one time event for the directors. They can and should participate over and over again concentrating on two different skills or problems each time. Host choruses can take pride in the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping fellow barbershoppers become better at their craft and having fun singing the old songs at the same time. Every chapter should encourage their music directors to attend a CDWI and certainly bear the travel expense for their participation.
MISSION OF THE WORKSHOP
Five chorus directors from the area will participate in a daylong, intensive, workshop devoted to directing skills. The directors are personally invited by the District CDD. The directors participate in a morning roundtable discussion identifying skills to be practiced in the afternoon in front of a live chorus. Each director is video taped while directing the chorus on two occasions. Following each directing session, the directors review the video tape with one of the trainers for instant feedback.
In some instances, other people will be attending as observers or apprentice trainers. Some of these observers may be from out of the area.