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!

OMEA All-State Choir Auditions

First of all, it was so great to see so many of you today! Can’t wait to see Treble Choir and Windjammers tomorrow. There seems to be a great energy this year- what is it that makes the beginning of the year so special, and how can we find this energy when we need it most? If you haven’t already, check out A Cappella’s performance of our alma mater from today- good music is already being made at LO!

OMEA All-State Auditions are now OPEN to all students in grades 9-12!

8/30/2017- audition recordings begin
9/27/2017- audition recordings and application+audition fees ($13) are paid to our bookkeeper, Ms. Huerd
10/20/2017- audition results are emailed to students. If accepted, it is $300 to register for All-State.
12/05/2017- music is mailed to directors and distributed to students
1/12/-1/14/2018- OMEA All-State Choir and Concert

The OMEA All-State Treble and Tenor/Bass Choirs are auditioned choirs comprised of the best singers from the state of Oregon. Students work with prominent choral conductors (Treble Choir: Amanda Quist from Westminster Choir College, Tenor/Bass: Joshua Habermann from University of North Texas) learn advanced-level choral music, stay with other great musicians, and put on a concert on the final night. All students are encouraged to try out, especially those seeking more audition experience, those students who have already experienced success in our program, or if you are simply looking for a new challenge and a great experience with music.

Audition materials can be found here. You will practice the major scale, chromatic exercise, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” sing your part in the chorale along with a recording of the other voice parts playing in the background (NOTE: sopranos will sing the alto line), and you will sight read.

The audition is NOT live- recordings must be made with Mr. Schwalbach. Ensure that you are well-rehearsed before your audition- because of the new chorale singing and sight reading components, your preparation on the scale/chromatic/”My Country ‘Tis of Thee”/prepared chorale exercises can help your scores greatly! Pay your registration/audition fee ($13) to our bookkeeper and schedule a recording time with Mr. Schwalbach (email or text choir office, 503.479.5698) BEFORE SEPTEMBER 27- in order to ensure all recordings can be processed, there will be no exceptions. Practice intentionally, and do not hesitate to contact Mr. Schwalbach if you have any questions.


Like hanging out with your fellow choir people? Like being useful? Do you generally feel good about pizza? Come on down to the choir room on Tuesday, August 29 at 10:00am to help us get ready for our new year! Most importantly, you can come meet the first year students!! In addition, music needs to be copied, stamped, and passed out, folders and scores need to be labeled, it would just be great to see y’all before the start of the year! This is a great opportunity to reconnect with friends and can also serve as NHS community service houra. At 12:30pm, pizza will be provided to folks who are able to stay any longer than an hour. We should be able to be finished by 4pm at the absolute latest. Come early and you can pick toppings!! HERE WE GO!!!