Running Just As Fast As We Can… 6/1/2011

On Saturday, May 28th, Mr. Davidson and I ran the 2011 Soldier Field 10 miler. It is an amazing race that has a great finish line on the 50 yard line of Soldier Field. The weather was cool (perfect for running) and the crowd was great! If we are keeping track, Mr. Davidson won this race, but we were both very happy with the run.

Running has become the thing to do in the choral department. This year alone both GBN directors ran a marathon (not to mention the 5Ks, triathlons, and half marathons)! It offers balance to a very full work schedule and a very healthy activity to work out stress.

Express 2011-2012

Thanks to everyone who auditioned.  I really appreciate the time and energy that you devoted to your audition.


Scottie Berman

Rob Blumstein

Josh Cohen

Farnaz Dadrass

Rebecca Elowe

Nicole Hughes

Ryan Hultman

Elana Hunt

John Huszagh

Aaron Kohrs

Scott Lamm

Julia Levinson

Lesley Levy

Sarah Mendelson

Brandon Nadig

Megan Orticelli

Allie Robson

Nathan Salstone

Jordy Shulman

Jenny Shults

Lauren Tzirides

Melissa Zak



Recording a CD Part One: Studio Time and Mechanical Licenses 5/26/2011

Recently our female a cappella group, Fermata Nowhere, began recording a set of songs for their first CD to be released in early fall 2011.  We have learned so much about this process and I wanted to share our experiences.  We have rehearsed our music pieces all year long, and decided to record in a local, professional studio with a recording engineer.   The girls and I worked diligently to be prepared for our studio time to ensure that they were effective and efficient sessions.  As producer, I researched the copyright and mechanical license procedures to guarantee that our recording and distribution of CDs would be legal.  We are working on CD titles and packaging materials, but more about that to come in future blog posts.  This venture seemed overwhelming at first, but as the pieces are coming together, the full picture is truly a phenomenal one.


Studio Time

Our studio time required us to be very focused and efficient.  The saying “time is money” directly applies to our process because the longer we take to record, the more expensive our endeavor.  One of our goals was to be extremely prepared on every selection we were recording on a given day.  The girls could use music, but even a page turn could ruin a take so we worked toward memorization on almost everything.


Guide Track

Our sessions always started with me playing a piano guide track into the recording program.  This allowed the girls to hear some of the pitches to maintain intonation throughout a piece.  The guide track also played a computerized “shaker” sound to keep tempo.


How to Record Different Parts

There are several ways to record songs, but for our a cappella pieces we decided to have each voice part record separate tracks.  Each singer or group of singers would go into the studio and sing through their part of the song following the guide track.  As we went along, the song slowly would take shape, layer by layer.  By layering the voice parts, the recording engineer has greater control over the manipulation of the piece.  He or she can bring up or down volumes, extend phrases, or even auto-tune if necessary.  In general, we always would start with the lowest voice part and work our way to the top.  Frequently, we have each voice part record their part twice.  These multiple tracks (‘mults’) not only provide options for edits, but add depth to the overall sound of a master track.  You can incorporate vocal percussion anywhere along the way, but our soloists and added features like duets or echo phrases definitely came last.  The ability to control the details within an arrangement offer a very clean final product, but can sound too processed (think of the Glee soundtracks that exist out there- lots of production!).  Our other options would be live performance- where the girls all stand around a mic in the studio and perform as a group- or a combination of the live performance with the layering process.  It really depends on the type of piece you are trying to record and the skill level of your recording engineer.  Luckily our man, Dr. Caw ( is not only an excellent engineer, but has very keen ears and great attention to detail.


Mechanical Licenses

In order to legally record songs (songs that are not original compositions or in public domain) and sell CDs, you need to obtain a mechanical license for each song you intend to record.  This is permission from the original songwriter to use their creative property.  A portion of the money paid for this license is then passed to the songwriter through royalties.  Most songs are actually held by one agency in the United States, The Harry Fox Agency.  For more specifics on Mechanical Licensing, click HERE.

I found this process extremely easy once I took the short video tutorial.  Like many other internet-based systems, you create a profile and log-in to search for songs.  After submitting information about your intentions for those songs, you pay a fee for each song you plan to use. Watch this great video to see the whole process.

Thank you, Mr. P!

Goodbye, Mr. Prikkel!  May 20 was Mr. Prikkel’s last day with us here at GBN.  He has successfully completed his student teaching and is now a graduate of North Park University.  We’ve really enjoyed working with him and wish him success for the future.  Mr. P is on the hunt for teaching positions in the area, but is also considering grad school for the fall.  Wherever he ends up, we know that he’ll do a great job.  Thanks for a great 8 weeks, congratulations, and good luck!


It is hard to consider the concept of “tradition” without the familiar strains of “Fiddler on the Roof” running through my brain.  However, with the end of the school year approaching, so many of our Glenbrook traditions have been put into practice.  We’ve sung “White Christmas” at the Winter Concert, shared in the singing of the “Loyatlty Song” in the freezing cold after choir tour, delivered our Singing Valentines, seen the seniors’ baby pictures at the banquet and given them flowers at our spring concert, and are looking forward to our Concert in the Park and Graduation.  And where would we be without “Fruitcake”? Knowing that we are participating in these events as so many have done before us helps us feel a part of something that is greater than ourselves.  We feel connected to the past, and lay the groundwork for the future.  There is real value in holding on to tradition and participating in these practices from year to year.

But what about new traditions?  When is it time to let some of our old traditions go and to introduce new ones?  A typical student spends four years at GBN, so doing something once or twice can quickly be viewed as “tradition” in a student’s eyes.  Not long ago, we went through the painful process of replacing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with other songs for our Awards Ceremony.  At the time, this was not a popular decision.  However, for the past several years, we have been able to perform songs that were more specific to the theme of the Awards Ceremony and, I think, just as meaningful to the singers and audience.

It is healthy for our school and for the choral program to continually reflect on what we are doing and why, and to evolve according to our needs.  Sometimes this process is easy, but more often, we find change to be difficult.  For a bit of historical perspective, here are a few “traditions” that have come and gone…

Our spring concert used to be held outside in a tent the evening of Springfest.  Huge hassle and big expense.  And in case of rain?  Well, we just got wet.

Before “Bridge”, there was “Life is a Celebration”.  This life-affirming anthem was sung every year at our traditional “Celebration of Life” concert, held every November.  The solos in this piece were the most highly coveted solos of the entire year.  I admit to having a soft spot for this song, but it is hard to believe that the kids got emotional about singing “Life is a celebration. Celebrate life, celebrate life! and then shouting “Yeah!”.  Really corny.

Traditionally, only Chorale and Cecilian sang on our Techny concerts.  Treble and Var/Spar never got the opportunity to perform in that amazing venue.

For many years, Ow! limited their number to 4 guys.  They really resisted growing to 5, then to 6, and now to 7, which is where they are today.  I think this change has been for the best.

What are some of your favorite GBN Choir traditions?  Feel free to share your thoughts by replying to this post.

2010-2011 Choral Awards

Congratulations to all singers on a wonderful year!

Outstanding Choral Member of the Year

Treble 2/3: Emily Westel

Treble 6/7: Kara Cooper

Varsity/Spartan: Shae Beckett

Cecilian Singers: Rebecca Elowe

Chorale: Annie Luc

4×4: Jake Gordon

Ladies First: Bansry Shah

Express: Annie Luc

Fermata Nowhere: Brooke Papritz


Outstanding Freshman in Choir

Ellie Schnittman & Lesley Levy

Outstanding Sophomore in Choir

Jordy Shulman

Outstanding Junior in Choir

Aaron Kohrs

Outstanding Senior in Choir

Nicole Mitroussias


Shannon Reese Memorial Award

Ryan Hultman


Arion Award Recipient

Nicole Mitroussias

Judy Moe Scholarship

Nicole Mitroussias


4th Quarter Awards

4th Quarter Outstanding Choir Members
Treble 2/3: Robin Dean
Treble 6/7: Amy Lakowski
Varsity/Spartan: Shawn Killian
Cecilian: Sarah Cell
Chorale: Rob Blumstein

GBN Choir alum meets Obama!

David Benning, GBN class of 2004 and former choir student, met President Obama during the President’s visit to Ft. Campbell, where David is currently stationed. David and his twin brother, Mark, were both in choir at GBN for four years.

Both brothers are serving in the U.S. Army and have spent time in Afghanistan. Please join me in thanking Mark and David for their service!