Timothy Keith Griffin, WCDA conducting co-titlist
University of Wisconsin-Parkside music student Timothy Keith Griffin Jr., won a share of first place at the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association (WCDA) 2011 Student Conducting Competition. The WCDA invites undergraduate music majors to the student conducting competition which was held this year in Green Bay.
Griffins' conducting mentor, UW-Parkside Music Professor Dr. James Kinchen, said many parts of the student's performance are scrutinized during the competition.
"Student conductors are judged on how well they actually conduct, their ability to build rapport with the choir, how clearly and appropriately they communicate instructions, their interpretative ideas, how well they critically hear what the choir is doing and offer instructions that change the choir's performance to what each conductor wants it to be, and, most of all, how convincingly each one makes music with the choir," Dr. Kinchen explained.
Griffin said he drew on the lessons learned in Dr. Kinchen's classes.
"Everything I know about conducting comes from Dr. Kinchen. He's one of the best, so I picked up a lot of good things. The things he's known for are his knowledge of the music and his passion; just the way he analyses the music," Griffin said. "There's so much I've learned from him."
WCDA conducting competitors are given two choral selections to study and prepare for in advance. On competition day, they have 15 minutes to work with a choir that has already learned those two songs.
Griffin shared WCDA conducting honors with Carroll College's Jacob Stensburg whom he describes as a great colleague and friend.
This semester, Griffin is facing a new challenge: student teaching. Working with Beth Smith at Mahone Middle School and with students at his old high school, Indian Trail High School and Academy with choral director John Choi, Griffin has already experienced some the excitement and confusion teachers must handle.
"I've seen some amazing groups but I'll have moments where I've had the best rehearsal, I know it's the best rehearsal I will have gotten from these students for my whole student teaching career and I'm leaving rehearsal extra excited. Then the next day I come back--same kids, same time, same class, same music--and they don't care."With the experience of Dr. Kinchen's frequent performance trips to local schools, Griffin said he is comfortable in front of the students he encounters. He also believes he will succeed as a teacher.