In this episode Choir Nation will hear from the very talented John Wilson of Bridgewater-Raritan High School. Topics discussed include motivating your student choir members, engaging your students in rehearsal, building community, and much more!

Episode 019 : Unlocking Your Choir's Musical Curiosity




John Wilson is the choral director at Bridgewater-Raritan High School where he conducts seven ensembles. His choirs have consistently received superior and first-place ratings in festivals throughout the state, earning praise most recently for performances of Gustav Holst’s Hymns from the Rig-Veda. John’s ensembles have performed at major venues in the New York/New Jersey area under the baton of Ryan Brandau, Alan Raines, Lee Nelson, and Andrew Megill. During the summers of 2014 and 2015, John served on the faculty at Westminster Choir College’s High School Vocal Institute, where he taught conducting classes and led the women’s choir. John was also a conducting fellow at the 2014 Yale School of Music Choral Conducting Workshop and at Bard College’s Orchestral Conducting Institute. At Rutgers University, John teaches courses in music education as a part time lecturer, and is assistant conductor of the prestigious Rutgers University Glee Club and Kirkpatrick Choir. In addition to his work as a teacher and conductor, John is also active as a professional singer. John and is also serving as the director for the Westminster Community Chorus in Princeton, NJ.

The moment you knew you’d dedicate your life to music

John attended Vocal Institute, Westminster’s high school choral camp. That pretty much sealed the deal!

Worst musical moment

At the NJACDA high school choral festival, John gave a slow prep for a quick song because he thought the program order was different. He remembered a puzzled look that one of his students gave him.  Although he gave the wrong cue, his well-prepared choir came in on the correct song and saved the day.

The proudest musical moment

His top choir, Lorelei, became engrossed in Gustav Holst’s Hymn from the Rig-Veda, often studying over lunch, and finally giving a stellar performance at a high school festival. He was proud at the ownership over the piece that his students possessed.

Your “Forte”

John’s forte is “Creating a classroom environment where students are free to express themselves”.

Principals include:

  1. What motivates your student choir members?
  2. Engage your students in rehearsal
  3. Expose your students to great choirs
  4. Let them lead – Create opportunities for your students to lead
  5. Have several solutions for any problem
  6. Take time to refresh yourself
  7. Build community within your choral program.

Most excited about right now

John is excited to get back to teaching at Bridgewater-Raritan High School after a year sabbatical at Rutgers, pursuing is MM in Choral Conducting.

Advice for your younger self

Learn to say “No” (Book mentioned below)

What makes a great conductor?

Great musicianship and being to engage your choir creatively and imaginatively.

Book Discussed

The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness

Acquainted with the Night: Insomnia Poems