Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe (@JMScheibe) of USC’s Thornton School of Music opens up to Ryan (@RyanMGuth) about what he believes constitutes a musician of value in the choral world and offers advice on how to be adequately prepared to earn your place on the right podium for you.

Episode 024 : How to be a musician of value, with Jo-Michael Scheibe



Jo-Michael Scheibe chairs the Thornton School of Music’s department of choral and sacred music at the University of Southern California. No stranger to the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), Scheibe served as National President (2011- 2013), National President Elect (2008-2011), Western Division President (1991- 1993), and National Repertoire and Standards Chairperson for Community Colleges (1980-1989). Ensembles under his leadership have sung at seven national ACDA conventions, two national conventions of the Music Educators National Conference and at the National Conference of the National Collegiate Choral Organization. The USC Thornton Chamber Singers were one of twenty-five choirs selected to perform at the Tenth World Choral Symposium in Seoul, Korea in August 2014. The Chamber Singers were recently featured at the 2015 ACDA National Conference in Salt Lake City. Scheibe has collaborated with Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras, Salvatore Licitra, Maria Guleghina, Andrea Bocelli, Kenny Loggins, the Rolling Stones, Barry Manilow, and Sir Elton John. He prepared choruses for Helmuth Rilling, Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra, Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra, and Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony. Recordings of his ensembles have been released on the Albany, Cane, Naxos, Arsis and ANS labels. A champion of contemporary music, Scheibe regularly commissions and performs new works of choral literature. Music publishers Walton, Colla Voce Music, Pavane, and Santa Barbara distribute the Jo-Michael Scheibe Choral Series internationally. Scheibe returned to USC in 2008 after fifteen years as director of Choral Studies at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, as well as previous faculty appointments at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff (1985-1993), Long Beach City College (1978-1985), Vintage High School in Napa, California, and Huntington Beach High School. He received his D.M.A. from the University of Southern California (1985) and his B.A. and M.M. degrees from California State University at Long Beach, where he was presented with the distinguished alumnus award. Scheibe is in frequent demand nationally and internationally as a clinician, conductor, and adjudicator for choruses at the university, community college, community, and secondary levels. Future engagements include international presentations in Shanghai, Bangkok, and Salzburg; national concerts at Orchestra Hall in Chicago and Carnegie Hall in New York City; and university presentations and all-state work across the country.

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

Dr. Scheibe was a junior in high school when he knew that he was going to be a music educator.

Worst musical moment

On his 2nd year of teaching, Dr. Scheibe’s Chamber Choir was invited to a conference. It was there that Mr. Howard Swan “filleted” Dr. Scheibe in front of his colleagues and was told that he is pushing the voice and that his choir was not sounding age appropriate, to which Dr. Scheibe find it humbling and made him rethink his approach.

The proudest musical moment

Dr. Scheibe considers his most proud moments ones that happen in the classroom when the singers were focused on the score.  One specific instance was when Morton Lauridsen came to work with his students at USC.

Your “Forte”

Dr. Scheibe through his series, The Jo-Michael Scheibe Choral Series, works with living composers and is regularly commissioned and performs new works of choral literature. He has helped to launch careers of people like Eric Whitacre and other promising composers. He promotes music by international composers largely unknown in the United States.

Most excited about right now

Dr. Scheibe is very excited about his sabbatical this coming spring.

Advice for your younger self

He wishes he had gotten piano lessons early on. Also, enjoy and relish where you are in the moment and remember that there are no second chances.

What makes a great conductor?

Dr. Scheibe believes that to be a great conductor one must have understanding of the voice, healthy vocal concepts, passion, creativity, good programming and big ears.

Book Discussed

The Conductor As Leader: Principles of Leadership Applied to Life on the Podium/G7071

The Naked Voice: A Wholistic Approach to Singing


Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe’s Facebook Account 

Follow Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe on Twitter

Dr. Scheibe’s USC Email – choral@usc.edu