Choral Directorship Course 2017


– a course for choral musicians working in school and community

Sunday 20 August – Saturday 26 August, 2017

Faculty: Fiona Blackburn, Sandra Meister, Sarona Mynhardt

Venue: Alderson Elementary School, Coquitlam

(825 Gauthier Ave, Coquitlam)

For the sixteenth year running, the BCCF is offering this foundational course for conductors.

The Choral Directorship Course has been offered since 2002. The course offers an introduction to the basics of conducting, vocal pedagogy, choral and personal skills. It will also be found to be a useful opportunity to review fundamentals for slightly more experienced conductors whose batteries need recharging.

The upcoming course is open to conductors of community choirs, but it is specifically focused on those offering music within the school system. We hope particularly to reach those specialists who have music training, but do not necessarily have specific knowledge of dealing with children’s voices. Specific topics covered are likely to include:

  • basic vocal physiology
  • appropriate ranges for different age groups
  • breath support and techniques for developing that support
  • development of the head voice
  • choosing appropriate repertoire
  • what defines ‘good/excellent’ repertoire…what do I look for?
  • singing in parts – canons, partner songs, two-part repertoire
  • the role of the accompanist
  • organizing for the choir (short-term and long-term)
  • what to do in the first rehearsal
  • making rehearsals “fun”, productive and musically successful
  • getting the whole body involved
  • ideas for involving and engaging boys
  • what to do when elementary aged boys’ voices begin to change
  • sitting or standing – when to do what
  • useful (but simple) conducting gestures
  • age appropriate exemplars of individual and group performance

The morning sessions will be focused on foundational vocal and conducting skills; afternoons will feature specific topic skills and interests according to the needs of registered participants (see list above for some examples). From 4pm onwards, there will be masterclass-style sessions during which all participants will be expected to have an assessment of their conducting skills with a faculty member in front of a choir made up of their peers and visiting singers.

For an application form CLICK HERE 

Please note: early-bird deadline MAY 10

A cheque may be sent to the office with a snail mail application; if you prefer to scan and email your application, please call BCCF Administrator Anita Lindsay at 604-738-8593 with a credit card number.  Thanks to a very generous sponsor, scholarships and bursaries may be available to BC registrants needing travel and accommodation assistance, or other financial aid.

Please contact the BCCF Project Manager for information. We also recommend that you apply SOON to your school, choir or other potential source of funding for help.

For a application for a scholarship or other financial assistance, CLICK HERE 

CDC 2017 Faculty


small_fiona_picFiona’s long and varied career as a singer has resulted in her acquisition of a deep and broad knowledge of the voice and vocal & choral repertoire. Fiona holds three degrees from the University of British Columbia: a Master of Music in Choral Conducting; a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance; and a Bachelor of Education in Secondary Music, for which she was awarded the Don Wright Scholarship for excellence in choral education.

Fiona has sung with many of this country’s leading musical ensembles and is known for her talents on the opera and musical theatre stage, in concert halls, and even on cruise ships. Her classical performances have been recorded and broadcast nationally on the CBC; and her ‘Celtic-fusion’ recordings have been sold in Europe and in North America, with extensive airplay and great reviews.

In the past decade, Fiona has been making a mark in the world of choral conducting, leading choral and vocal workshops, and adjudicating at music festivals within British Columbia and beyond. Fiona has directed children, youth and adult choirs. In the spring of 2012, Fiona travelled to Indiana to work with Maestro Henry Leck of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, one of the largest children’s choir programmes in the world. Her aim is to create an environment in which each singer may explore his or her full vocal potential, while singing choral literature that is: rich in history and poetry; significant as ‘choral masterpieces’; moving, thought-provoking and uplifting; and, just as importantly, is fun!

Fiona is the director of the British Columbia Girls Choir, a vibrant choral organization based in Metro Vancouver. Over the years, she has led the choir in hundreds of performances, almost 40 of them being award-winning. Fiona has conducted the singers in such prestigious halls as the Sydney Opera House, the Beijing Concert Hall and in Yorkminster Cathedral. Here at home, Fiona encourages all singers to effect social change by using their voices to raise awareness and funds for local community groups, such as: food banks, disaster relief projects and societies that deal with health issues.


small_sandra_meister_photo_2013Sandra Meister is widely regarded as a leader in education innovation. Sandra is Principal of Walton Elementary School in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Walton is home to British Columbia’s first Early Bilingual Mandarin-English Program, Strong Start (a drop-in preschool for babies to five year olds) and the Kindergarten Early Learning Lab which has hosted hundreds of visitors representing every continent.

For more than twenty years, Sandra led Die Meistersinger Children’s Choir. Sandra’s present choral work includes the Walton “Voice Challenge” choir. The Walton children are frequently called upon to serve as musical ambassadors for such diverse audiences as an education delegation from Brazil and the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China.

Sandra Meister is the recipient of many awards including the Governor General’s Medal in recognition of significant contribution to compatriots, community, and Canada, the BCMEA Professional Educator Award and the BCCF Willan Award.

Sandra is frequently called upon as an adjudicator, guest conductor and lecturer. She holds degrees from Simon Fraser University (BGS 1991) and the University of Oregon (MS 2001). She currently resides in Port Moody, British Columbia with her violinist husband, Paul and their varsity soccer goalie son, Richard.


2013-05-28_14_09_24-mozilla_firefoxBorn and raised in South Africa Sarona Mynhardt received her degree in Pretoria where she specialized in Classroom Music, Voice, Choral Conducting, Drama, and Special Education. Her formal voice training culminated in postgraduate work at the Conservatory of Music at North-West University in Potchefstroom.

Her early singing career included formal voice training and memberships in professional children’s and youth choirs. It later extended to include lead roles in musicals and operettas. After 10 successful years of teaching Sarona immigrated to Canada. In 1997 she founded the White Rock Children’s Choir, which currently has 130 singers in three Choir levels under her artistic direction. The Choir participates regularly in local and International Festivals and Choral events. They have travelled as far as Calgary, California, Montreal, Italy, Hawaii, Mexico, South Africa, England and New York, where the highlight was a performance in Carnegie Hall.

In Canada Sarona has taught in both the public and private school systems where she directed both Elementary and High School Choirs and Musicals. She was on the board for the BC Choral Federation for five years, and has been a guest conductor for several honour Choirs in the Lower Mainland. She regularly serves as Adjudicator at Music Festivals & Clinician for Conductor and Choral workshops. She has been on the faculty for the BCCF Choral Conducting Course for several years and has also taught Vocal and Choral workshops in Taiwan and South Africa. Sarona has participated in and completed level three of Creating Artistry – Conducting workshops and Master Classes with Henry Leck and Vocal Training with Steven Rickards at Butler University in Indianapolis. Together with Henry Leck she co-conduced a North American Choir with members from the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and the White Rock Children’s Choir on a 14 day Concert Tour of South Africa in 2008. Sarona also teaches voice at her private studio in White Rock. She believes that through Choral Music we can truly make a difference in the world as we teach love, compassion, humanity, passion and joy!