Author: schwalzj

Take Private Voice!

During any choral rehearsal as a singer, you get a lot of information about how to function within an ensemble, how to read music, and a good idea of what a healthy vocal technique should sound like. Sometimes, the information you get in a rehearsal isn’t always personalized to what is happening with your own voice in particular. That’s where private lessons come in! There is no better way to advance your study of singing than by taking voice with a private teacher who understands you, your voice, and how best to get you to reach your maximum potential. Although you get a lot during rehearsal, a private instructor can tailor your lessons specifically to you and what you need as a singer.

A list of private teachers can be found by clicking here.

As the director, I know these teachers and their strengths. If you need help finding the teacher who will work best for you, please ask me!

If money is an issue, please let me know. Our booster organization is making an effort to provide lesson scholarships for students who are interested in taking lessons, contribute greatly to the LO Choir program, and need some financial assistance in order to take lessons consistently. Contact me for me information.

Regardless of whether you take privately or not, keep on singing! It is an honor and a joy to hear you lift your voices in song every day. -schwalbach

An invitation to join Mom Choir to support Women’s Shelters @ Final Concert on May 21st

One of the great joys I have as a music educator is I get to watch how students begin to connect the importance of music to social issues. One of my students came to me this past winter with an idea to raise money for a cause which she really believed in- providing assistance to women who are victims of abuse, assault, and other hardships. She mentioned wanting to put together a group to sing “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine, performing it at a concert, and taking a collection which we would then donate to a local women’s shelter. Thus, we decided to bring back a LO Choir tradition- the Mom Choir.

What are we doing?
Treble singers (sopranos and altos) are to invite a person (or people!) who has helped them ‘raise their voice’ to sing with us. You might get invited- be honored, don’t worry for a second if you feel like you can’t sing, and come join us! If you haven’t been asked by your singer yet…well, you have my permission to bother them about it 🙂 (we will be talking about this in more detail in Bel Canto/A Cappella next week)

Do I have to be a mom to take part?
Nope! This is all about celebrating the important connections and strong voices in our student’s lives. The only requirement is that those voices be Sopranos/Altos (sorry, tenors/basses!). You can be a sister, friend, aunt, cousin, step-sister, little brother who still has a treble voice…any relationship will do as long as you are invited to sing with us and are willing to join us in song!

OK, I’m in! What should I do??
1) Learn the piece with your singer- pick a voice part (soprano is the melody and probably the most accessible part; if you’re unsure of which part to sing, pick Soprano). You can find tracks to practice by clicking this link. You can also find a recording of our particular arrangement by clicking here. (we will accompany ours with piano, guitar, and drums) Find some joy in making music together- if you’ve never done it before, seize this opportunity! You won’t regret it.
2) Come to our rehearsal next Thursday, May 17th from 6:00-6:45pm in the choir room. We will have some light snacks and beverages and share an evening of song together. It’s sure to be a delight!
3) Find a nice black outfit (dash of color with scarf is also good!)
4) Put on said outfit and come to our rehearsal before the concert on Monday, May 21st at 6:45pm in the choir room.
5) Sing your heart out with some great kids for a great cause! We will perform first on the concert.

What if I can’t make rehearsal on Thursday- can I still join?
Absolutely! Just let me know you plan on attending and what voice part you plan on singing so I can save a spot for you in the choir.

I’m honored to be invited and want to help out, but I really feel like I can’t sing…do I have to??
Know two things… first, if you can talk, you can sing! Maybe not well, but that’s okay. This is about strengthening our community and raising money for a good cause. We’re not trying to win 1st place at the state choir competition. Plus, you might learn you actually can! Or someone might donate some money to see you sing up on stage. It’s a win-win!

Do I need to have the piece memorized??
Nope. Printed music will be provided for you. Just sing from the heart!

I can sing but my student is a tenor or bass OR I know an alumni OR my singer has a sibling who is a soprano or alto OR my best friend is a great singer- can we/they come too??
YES!! Please join us or invite other treble voices (send this email along, or send them to the choir website- The more strong, influential people in our students live’s, the better!! The bigger the choir, the better. And it sends a MUCH stronger message to our students and community, both with respect to helping women in need and how much we value singing together.

If you have any additional questions, please let me know. I can’t wait to see everyone next week and make some music together with our community! Be well. cheers,zs

A Cappella- State Practice Tracks, Final Exam, and SF Roommates

  1. State Practice tracks can be found on the A Cappella page under ‘choirs’ above, or by clicking here.
    **plan ahead– you cannot do the same final for Semester 2!
  3. Your top 4 roommate preferences for San Francisco must be selected by Friday, January 12. Click here to finalize your selections.PERFORMANCE FINAL (50 pts.)
    • Song must be school-appropriate and accompanied (ie, instrumental/karaoke backing track, piano/guitar) unless an a cappella performance is pre-approved by instructor at least one week in advance. You may perform as a duet/trio, keeping in mind that each member will be graded on their own individual contribution to the performance.
      • / 10 pts.
    • Songs must be memorized unless you are providing your own accompaniment (ex. singing while playing piano or guitar).
      • / 10 pts.
    • You must introduce your song with the title, original artist(s), your name(s), accompanist’s name (if applicable), and one thing that you find interesting about your piece (something about the history of the piece, the translation/meaning of the piece,
      • / 10 pts.
    • Performers will show appropriate performance technique, including good posture and stage presence.
      • / 20 pts.
    TOTAL: / 50 pts.


    • Perform a 4 to 8-measure sight-singing example one-on-one with the instructor.
      • Briefly discuss time signature and key signature. ____ / 5 pts.
      • Identify and establish key ____ / 5 pts.
      • Practice out loud for 30 seconds, focusing on any challenging intervals or rhythms ____ / 15 pts
      • Set a consistent tempo without stopping ____ / 5 pts.
      • Rhythmic accuracy ___/ 5 pts.
      • Pitch accuracy ____ / 5 pts.
      • Consistent posture and breath support ___ / 5 pts.
    TOTAL: ____ / 50 pts.

    WRITTEN FINAL- option 1 (50 pts.)

    • Find two quality and contrasting (ie, one performed by a high school choir, the other performed by a professional choir) recordings of a piece (or movement of one piece) that your ensemble performed this fall and provide the link to the recordings you used so your instructor can also listen (YouTube, Spotify, etc.)
      • ____ / 2 pts.
    • In one to two double-spaced pages, analyze the text of the music and describe the meaning/intent of the piece using specific evidence from the text (use a translation if your piece is in a foreign language!), and how does the composer express this meaning through the music?
      • ____ / 15 pts.
    • In one double-spaced page, compare and contrast the tone quality of the two recordings using appropriate musical language that we utilize in class AND make a judgment as to which groups tone quality best supports the meaning of the piece- give specific reasons.
      • ____ / 10 pts.
    • In one double-spaced page, compare and contrast at least one musical decision (tempo, dynamics, etc.) of the two recordings using appropriate musical language that we utilize in class. How does the different decision change the interpretation/meaning of the piece?
      • ____ / 15 pts.
    • Paper is formatted cleanly (double spaced, standard font such as Times New Roman size 12), has clear and well-developed ideas, and is free of spelling/grammatical errors- the paper is of the same quality as all academic writing at school (would it be passable with your English instructor?)
      • ____ / 8 pts.
    TOTAL: ____ / 50 pts.

    WRITTEN FINAL- option 2 (50 pts.)

    • Attend the “Defiant Requiem” presentation on Wednesday, January 9th at 7pm in the auditorium and answer the following prompts.
    • Describe the connection and the importance of the performance of the Verdi Requiem to the prisoners. What did the performance mean to the singers? (~1 page, double spaced)
      • ____ / 10 pts.
    • Describe one other event in history where music had meaning “beyond the notes.” What was the music? What was the social/political/historical story? What did the music mean? How did the music contribute to the political/social movement? (~1 page, double spaced)
      • ____ / 20 pts.
    • Describe one moment in your life where music took a profound meaning in your life. What was the music? What was the story? What  did the music mean to you? How did the music contribute to that experience? (~1 page, double spaced)
      • ____ / 15 pts.
    • Paper is formatted cleanly (double spaced, standard font such as Times New Roman size 12), has clear and well-developed ideas, and is free of spelling/grammatical errors- the paper is of the same quality as all academic writing at school (would it be passable with your English instructor?)
      • ____ / 5 pts.
    TOTAL: ____ / 50 pts.


Choir Spirit Week!

CHOIR SPIRIT WEEK is coming! Celebrate singing at LO by taking part. Come by the choir room by 3:35 each day for a picture to be posted on our Instagram.


Holiday Concert, Light of Our Hearts, 5:55pm call, 7:00pm start (stream here)

TUESDAY, 12/12- TWIN DAY (dress exactly like someone else! Triplets/quadruplets/dodecatuplets encouraged!)

WEDNESDAY, 12/13- PAJAMA DAY (‘nuf said)

THURSDAY, 12/14- SECTION COLORS! Sopranos+Mezzos- Purple. Altos- oceans of Blue. Tenors- Pink. Basses- Green. FOOD FOR THE SECTION WITH HIGHEST PERCENTAGE!

**after school: CHOIR POTLUCK, SECRET SNOWFLAKE, AND WATCHING ELF!! 3:20-5:00pm in the choir room.

A Cappella/WJ- something substantial (more centerpiece-y; think sandwiches, wings, pasta salad, deli salad, etc.)
Bel Canto- something healthy (fruit, cookies, etc.)
Laker Choir- something crunchy + salty (chips, pretzels, etc.)
Treble Choir- something sweet (fruit, cookies, etc.)

FRIDAY, 12/15- FESTIVE DAY (wear your ugly sweaters, santa hats, green and red, candy canes, tree light shirts…anything festive!)

Wreath Fundraiser, SF Trip Fundly- support LO Choirs!


1) Our annual choir wreath/Bob’s Red Mill fundraiser has begun! Information went home with all students on Thursday/Friday of this last week. All orders and payments are due by Tuesday, October 31st. Students in Bel Canto/Laker Choir/Treble Choir are supporting the entire choral department, while A Cappella students are supporting their individual SF Trip efforts.

2) Interested in supporting us, but don’t need a wreath? Make a direct donation to support the choir/orchestra’s trip to San Francisco by visiting Share the link on social media and with friends/family! And you can always make a tax-deductible, direct donation to the department by sending cash or check.

Thank you again for all of your support! Remember only a small portion of what we do is covered by our school budget. To provide accompanists, extra musicians, bring in outside clinicians, provide apparel, and purchase extra supplies, we require support beyond what the district provides. Thank you for making a great music experience possible for all of our students!

Choir Boosters + A Cappella Workshop/SF Trip Parent Meeting

Three updates as we get ready for our Fall Concert on October 17, 2018 at 7pm (call time 6pm)! The choirs are memorizing and beginning to rehearse in the auditorium.

1) Choir Boosters: A choir program is only as good as the people who support it, and a solid parent booster group forms the backbone of that support. This year, I am excited to begin organizing a more formal, organized, and perpetual Choir Booster organization at LOHS! Please look sign up to help by clicking this link. Thank you in advance for your willingness to help with this important and integral work to your students’ experience

2) Workshop with Josh Rist tomorrow, 10/7: Our choral workshop with Josh Rist tomorrow, composer of one of the choir’s fall concert pieces (“Invictus”), AND an all-around excellent conductor and choral music educator. It is a rare opportunity to work with a living composer, and we are excited to get this special time tomorrow! Due to the PSAT, we have moved the time of this event to 12pm-4pm. The kids are aware, but please help remind them to be on time.

3) San Francisco Tour parent meeting: A reminder that choir/orchestra parent meeting for our 2018 performance tour is at 6:30pm next Tuesday evening, October 10 in the LOHS auditorium. Attached is a letter with more information regarding our tour. Please read it thoroughly and mark your calendars for this important meeting.

“Where I’m From” poem

First of all, HAPPY MONDAY! I hope you all had safe, happy, and fun weekends.

The theme for our fall concert is “Where We’re From.” It is a reflection on our identity as students at Lake Oswego High School, as musicians, as Oregonians, as Americans, and as joyful human beings.

Part of this is a self-examination and expression of our own identity- our own relationships, hopes, and interests. During class today, you will create a draft of your own “Where I’m From” poem. These will be placed outside the auditorium and displayed anonymously before our fall concert on October 17th. You’ll need a piece of notebook paper and a pencil, and an honest and open mindset with a willingness to look inward and reflect upon who you are. The first draft of these poems will be due on Friday, September 22nd (A Day) and Wednesday, September 27th (B Day)

  1. WARM UP QUESTIONS- write on top of your page:
    1. What are some songs that show who you see yourself to be right now? Give the song name and artists. I’m going to make a playlist out of it!
    2. What are the ways that music can be descriptive of our individual identity? How can it define collective identity (ie, as Americans, as an immigrant, as a musician, etc.)
  2. On one side, BRAINSTORM! Be as specific as possible.
    -Items found around your home
    -Items found in your yard/outside
    -Items from your neighborhood
    -Names of friends/family
    -Common phrases/sayings associated with you, “Work hard/play hard,” etc.
    -Food you grew up with
    -Specific names of places
    -Language(s) spoken at home (Spanish, Mandarin, etc.)
  3. Once you are done, review your brainstorm. Turn these items/images/metaphors into a short poem using the following template- follow it as closely or loosely as you desire, but the amount of detail in the template below is expected, regardless of the details you choose to add from your brainstorm list.I am from (specific ordinary item) from (product name) and (another product name)
    I am from the (home description)
    (adjective that describes the home description)
    It (tasted/sounded/looked/felt – choose one)
    I am from the (plant, flower, or natural item)
    (description of natural item)
    I’m from the (family tradition) and (family trait)
    From (name of family member) and (name of family member) and (another name)
    I’m from the (description of family tendency) and (another family tendency)
    From (something you were told as a child) and (another thing you were told as a child)
    I’m from (representation of religious or spiritual beliefs or lack of it), (further description of spiritual beliefs)
    I’m from (place of birth and family ancestry), (two food items that represent your ancestry)
    From the (specific family story with a detail about a specific person)
    The (another detail about another family member)
    I am from (general statement with DETAILS about who you are or where you are from)
  4. Edit and put poem into Google Docs. Share with Mr. Schwalbach ([email protected]). Again, first drafts are due on Friday, September 22nd (A Day) or Wednesday, September 27th (B Day). Final drafts will be due on Monday, October 2nd (A Day) or Tuesday, October 3rd (B Day).


I. Where I’m From

I’m from Roy T and Gertrude, Sunny Boy and Mame Kate!
I’m from waking up to fish and grits, sausage and eggs each morning.
In the evening, chicken, greens, smothered pork chops, butter beans, and rice put us to bed.
Born in the city that never sleeps,
Where the music reflects the mood.
A sense of PRIDE in our stride the walk the talk,
The Big Apple, “We Love New York!”
I’m from hard work, no handouts and no shorts,
Real life lessons on life are taught on asphalt courts.
I’m from Ajax and bleach, tight creases and no wrinkles,
You could bounce a quarter off my bed!
I’m from “Get that piece of paper and don’t ever look back.”
And don’t you ever let anyone ever tell you what you can’t do!
I’m from home for the summer, out all night ’til the crack of dawn,
To I don’t care what you did last night, your butt is going to church in the morn…
I’m from the Great Migration and 20 years of service!
I’m from the product of sacrifice and determination…….a better way of life!
And I’m thankful!

II. Where I’m From

I am from sand and sea…that place where water meets land-where dreams are dreamed and hopes are dashed.

I am from buttery grits and Chesapeake blue crabs- A Yankee’s favorite foods from my mother’s southern side.

I am from horses, dogs and deer-a backyard of nature’s wonders where one can just be-just be with God and His creation…to dream good dreams and pray not all hope will be dashed.

I am from faith, forgiveness and freedom.

My life is who I am-where I’ve been, where I am and where I will be.

I am content and grateful.

2017-18 Choir Handbook

The Choir Handbook for 2017-18 can be found by clicking here.

It is every singer and their family’s responsibility to know the contents and agreements contained in the choir handbook. Read the handbook with your family and put all dates contained on to your calendar now! Once you have carefully done so, note any conflicts at the bottom of the Handbook Acknowledgement Form, sign, and turn in the form to Mr. Schwalbach.

A Day Choirs
– Friday, September 8th
B Day Choirs– Monday, September 11th

If you have any feedback, please let Mr. Schwalbach know.