CUTF Introduction – Note by Note: Strengthening Skills Within the Heinz Chapel Choir

Hey there! My name is Chloe Weiss, and I am in my final year at Pitt as a Bachelor of Philosophy candidate in Music Performance and Fiction Writing. You might recall that I previously served as a 2021 Creative Arts Fellow, where the conclusion of my fieldwork involved the curation of a pedagogical exhibit, “Get With the Program: A Guide to Musical Analysis and Storytelling, with Archival Comparisons”! Presently, I am involved in the M.U.S.I.C club as a piano instructor and musicianship tutor, and serve as President for the Heinz Chapel Choir. Thanks to all of these experiences, I am now a core member of the Chancel Choir at Shadyside Presbyterian Church. 

I am honored to serve the Heinz Chapel Choir as a Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Fellow for this fall, where I am mentored by Dr. Susan Rice. As someone who is entering my fourth year as a vocalist with the choir, I can say for certain that every moment spent in rehearsal is golden; how we spend that time is contingent on each member’s unique understanding of how to approach the score, listen accordingly, and contribute their voice to the space. Though the act of practicing outside of rehearsal is a hallowed tradition of our choir culture, not everyone has a solid fundamental background. Without that already-embodied knowledge of how to study music in an efficient manner, it is consequently more difficult to expand skills beyond what they already know (regardless of the musical rigor the score presents). 

Thus, my CUTF project was born! My central task is to lead one-on-one tutoring sessions on five central topics: key signatures, rhythm, utilizing the tuning fork (that’s how we give pitch in concerts!), fluency in reading music using solfa syllables without singing and once that fluency has been achieved, adding singing to reading music at sight using solfa. All of these topics are objective and fundamental – by engaging in tutorials that approach those skills outside of class, we can move more quickly towards the development of artistry in rehearsal. Or, as we musicians often say, that’s where the magic happens! 

Helping a large number of musicians meet personalized goals, expanding those skills, and applying them in a rehearsal setting are all huge functions of choral pedagogy — by furthering those skills under the guidance of a seasoned conductor-teacher, I have the utmost confidence that I will enter the choral conducting field with a greater understanding of my own teaching style. All that to say, I’m incredibly stoked to see what the future holds. Stay tuned for more updates!

That’s me!

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