In this post, Education Director Ben Johns talks about his visit on Thursday to the 45 member Piedmont High School A Cappella Choir directed by Joe Piazza which is coming to the National Youth Choral Festival next 
Yesterday I went to see the Piedmont High School Acappella Choir (they're going to be at our festival).  The school is undergoing major construction - earthquake retrofitting.  But thankfully, the choir room is far down the hill from all the noise.

We worked on some songs they're learning for the festival - songs they will sing at the Monday morning individual choir concert.  The two pieces are "A Basque Lullaby" by Dan Forrest and "Voice Dance II" by Greg Jaspers.  For Basque Lullaby, we worked on tone and interpretation mostly.  It's a new piece, so there was a certain amount of note-learning.  We talked about the Basque language (even though this is in English) and I gave them homework - to google the Basque culture and see if they discover anything to help interpret the music differently.  When they show up to the festival, I'll ask if anyone actually did it (intriguing that the composer would choose to specify that culture, in light of their sometimes violent struggles to become independent).  I gave the adage "Sing soft, listen loud" when learning a new piece.  And we worked on word stress and phrasing ("the" is not an important word, and should not normally be stressed; breathing is generally acceptable at commas).  For Voice Dance, which is pure vocal jazz, we imitated trumpets in a few different ways and worked on rhythmic precision.  There's a challenging key change and I was asked how Chanticleer approaches such difficult things.  My answer was that Chanticleer knows how to read music, and when there are difficulties, we practice slowly.  I added that sometimes we make things harder than they really are: if we pretend it's easy or identify the easy elements, but still work at it, then issues seem to dissolve.