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Summer Music Literacy Course

Drake University, June, 2017

From First Read to Stellar Performance with Bel Canto Solfeggio

Clinician: John Armstrong
June 26-29, 2017 (Tuesday-Friday)
Course fee is $325

Teachers may earn 2 EDMA credits (additional $110 per graduate credit hour fee through Drake University) OR staff development credit (additional $35 for the course through Heartland AEA).

Class meets 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

This is a patient, sequenced course, derived from our highly successful "Step-By-Step Bel Canto Solfeggio" class, that will help you practice integrating the three-step process and lead your choral singers from basic music reading instruction to sight singing actual songs and choral literature beautifully. This class format has been developed in response to requests from music educators who work with singers and who believe in sight reading music every day. We will implement the Cooperative Learning model so you will be an active participant in the process.

A detailed description appears on the Drake University website:

We've noticed the power of collaboration in our classes when returning veterans work alongside first-time directors.  The veterans will enjoy a fresh approach with song and choral literature while the newbies gain support as they develop their handsign/solfeggio "chops".  We will sing songs that evolve into two-, three- and four-part choral pieces.  Our mission is to help you develop "choristers” into expressive singers who think, count and read music.

Develop Beautiful Tone

Bel Canto: John Armstrong has unique and appealing ways to teach beautiful singing in lessons, classes and rehearsals. This course introduces an extensive series of warm-ups, exercises, patterns, rounds, vocalises and choralises that develop vocal mastery along with music literacy. We explore singing fundamentals in artistic ways to engage the personality as well as the voice. 
"This has truly been one of the most significantly useful classes that I have taken throughout my career."  - J.B.

More Than Music Literacy

Solfeggio: We introduce our process for learning independently within a group setting. We also help you create artistic handsigns which translate into expressive conducting gestures to captivate each singer’s imagination. We will show you non-verbal approaches to improve tone, intonation and expressive phrasing while you teach singers to think, count and take ownership for learning.
"Now, I am building in literacy skills throughout the rehearsal.” - J. N.

Great Literature

Repertoire: We incorporate proven choral pieces throughout the sessions to help you apply skills as you master them. Each voicing is represented with carefully selected literature for every level. You will learn how a one-page Reader can accelerate the learning curve for a new piece of music.
"I now have the insight to select and integrate great literature in the process!"  N. C.

Teaching Practice

Immersion: As soon as we introduce a new procedure or process, we break into small groups to allow each teacher opportunities to practice leading that skill in a non-pressure environment. Colleagues support and coach each other as we build skill sets throughout the course. This offers the benefits of a symposium, yet with active participation in small increments. The Cooperative Learning model also provides opportunities to exchange ideas and experiment with various applications of the process. This class is about much more than music reading instruction for singers.

“John Armstrong will simply change the way you think about music education.”  Dr. M.K.

NB:  The Reading Choir Singer is required text for this course.


Questions?  CONTACT:  Dr. Aimee Beckmann-Collier      [email protected]
Director of Choral Activities
Drake University, Des Moines Iowa   50311


John Armstrong, Director, American Music Literacy Association      [email protected]