This past February, at the 2019 TMEA convention in San Antonio, GIA Publications announced the release of Habits of a Successful Choral Musician by Eric Wilkinson and Scott Rush. This is a field-tested collection of more than 200 sequenced exercises for building choral fundamentals and artistry.
As very few classroom choral methods exist, the book’s release would be big news by itself. Even better, however, is that this new choral method is now in SmartMusic, too. To learn more, we went right to the source and spoke to co-author Eric Wilkinson, director of the Wando High School Choir program in Charleston, South Carolina.
What inspired you to create Habits of a Successful Choral Musician?
I have been teaching high school choir for 17 years. After every school year I have I reflected on my own teaching and thought about what worked that particular year, what didn’t, and what was close but not quite on track. Over time I have been able to develop many of my own resources and teaching strategies that build independent musicians and strong choirs. I wanted to combine all these resources and teaching tools and put them into one place that was easy for me and my students to use.
As a result, we have created Habits of a Successful Choral Musician! It is a great resource for teachers to use during fundamentals time that includes many skill-building exercises such as vocal pitch exercises, warm-ups, ensemble exercises, sight-reading exercises, folk songs, rounds, and chorales.
How did you and Scott Rush meet?
Scott and I have known each other for a long time and our families know each other, too. We met at Wando High School in 2008 when I became the choir director and he was the band director. But even before that, I knew of Scott and his work through my wife, Emily Wilkinson who is a band director and studied with Scott in the early 2000s.
Scott and I worked a lot together at talked a great deal at Wando since we were in the same department. I am so glad that we had the chance to collaborate on many projects together especially the books for the Habits Series.
How did you and Scott collaborate on this project?
Scott and I talked several times about the vision for Habits of a Successful Choral Musician. We wanted the book to be accessible, user friendly, and contain vital exercises for developing great choirs. After many revisions, edits, and discussions we have Habits of a Successful Choral Musician now in print as well as the Conductor’s Edition that coincides with the student book.
What sets Habits of a Successful Choral Musician apart?
Habits of a Successful Choral Musician collects many great teaching resources into one very useful book. There are warm-ups, vocal pitch exercises, ensemble exercises that assist in teaching dynamics, breathing, articulation, and tuning chords. There are over 200 sight-reading exercises to assist in teaching solfege, rhythms, and melodies. Plus there are folks songs and rounds to improve harmony skills and musicality.
Then, if that isn’t enough, there are ten SATB chorales at towards the end of the book to help improve ensemble sight-reading and music making. Plus there are musical terms and symbols at the end of the book that teachers can use with their students to assist in improving student musical knowledge.
I don’t know of any other teaching resource for choirs that combines all these practical teaching resources into one book. Habits of a Successful Choral Musician has it all!
I’d like to thank Eric for sharing his insights with us. You can learn more about how Habits of a Successful Choral Musician can transform your students’ fundamentals time at giamusic.com.