All-State Chorus workshop helps prepare high schoolers
4 mins read

All-State Chorus workshop helps prepare high schoolers

This year, 32 high schools and 286 students from all across South Dakota signed up for USD’s annual All-State Chorus workshop. Students who participate are selected by their teachers and will be sent to All-State chorus at the end of October.  

Chair of the music department and director of choral activities David Holdhusen said the workshop is held to help the quartets from each school learn what the music sounds like in a larger setting.  

“What we do is we give an opportunity for high schools from around the region to come together in one place, everybody working on the music together, because they’re all working towards having this music ready for the end of October,” Holdhusen said. 

The majority of the activities students will participate in are a combination of rehearsals and workshops, because Holdhusen said their music has to be prepared by the end of the month. He said this will also give students the opportunity to work with USD faculty and hear the choir.  

“We’ll be doing some sectionals which will break them out into smaller groups that will be run by our faculty,” Holdhusen said. “We’re going to have a good warmup voice-use session at the beginning and then right before the Chamber Singers sing, our other voice teacher is going to do just a general vocal health workshop as well.” 

At the state level, each school can send a minimum of one quartet or, depending on the size of the school, they can send more. Holdhusen said that if schools don’t have alternate voice parts, the quartet cannot perform. However, he said most schools do have alternate voices for each part so the group doesn’t lose the opportunity to go.  

“The people who come to this will always bring their All-State quartet, the one that is going to represent them, but sometimes they also bring alternates because if something happens and your quartet can’t go or someone from your quartet can’t go, the whole quartet doesn’t go,” Holdhusen said. 

Holdhusen said they are not preparing for a concert really, but they are helping students get ready for the end of October. He said students will not be performance-ready by the end of the experience, but they will hopefully feel as though they have improved and are able to continue working on their music. 

“I’m hoping that they’re going to get better at their music and just be more comfortable with where they are in the music and what they still need to learn,” Holdhusen said. “But more than that, I’m hoping that they become excited about the music, become excited about singing in the choir and just take back some ideas that they can utilize in their own ensembles to improve themselves and their colleagues.” 

Although the workshop is for high school students, Holdhusen said USD students can benefit too. For music students, Holdhusen said it’s an opportunity to network with all the high school teachers who bring their students to campus.  

“Our USD music students who are going to go out and be teachers, this is a chance to come over and just meet some of the area teachers and learn from them, talk to them, just pick their brains,” Holdhusen said. “And it’s a good time to watch and observe what it means to do a festival choir because you do things differently when you have 300 people in front of you versus a 40-60 voice choir.” 

The All-State chorus students are chosen specifically by their teachers because they are the best in their schools, but Holdhusen said it’s still possible for them to get nervous performing in a large setting like this.  

“I think that this is just an opportunity to come and safely make those mistakes, because if you don’t come into this type of situation where it’s really a learning ground and make some mistakes, sing with enthusiasm and try to soak in things, it’s harder to hear where things need to find improvement,” Holdhusen said.