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Burch, Emily Williams

Dr. Emily Williams Burch began teaching in 2007, including directing community choirs, teaching in public schools, training in professional development settings, and as a professor at the university level. Currently the Coordinator of Music Education and Visiting Professor at the University of South Carolina, Aiken, Dr. Burch is also the Founder/Artistic Director of RISE Chorales, LLC, a community choir organization with youth through adult choirs, and Executive Director of RISE Outreach, 501(c)(3), all based in Savannah, GA. Dr. Burch is an active clinician, and serves as chair for the ACDA National Standing Committee for Advocacy and Collaboration. Catch Dr. Burch on her podcasts Music (ed) Matters or as co-host of the “The Illuminate Podcast” wherever you listen to podcasts or follow her adventures running and pacing marathons at @elevatedrunningandpacing. More at


Communicating Your Value: Car Sales, Choirs, and Everything in Between - Music Education

Every octavo is different, yet as music specialists we have the tools we need to teach each song with ease—we know all the tricks to teach musical concepts and create a beautiful sound. Yet when it comes to building support for these same choirs, sometimes our bag of tricks doesn’t run as deep. Because most of our degrees are in music, donning a business-like mindset in order to build support for our organizations can feel daunting. In this session, we step out of the classroom and into the community with confidence by exploring how to communicate your organization’s value to attract new supporters.

Yes, You Can Raise Money!: Tackling the Fear of Fundraising in Choral Programs - Music Education

As the song goes… money makes the world go 'round. If that’s true, then why is it so hard to grasp the concept of fundraising?! Raising funds is an important element of successful choral programs, but many find that fundraising is a tedious and even frightening concept. This session will help unpack some of the common misconceptions of successful fundraising and equip choral leaders with the tools they need to build connections with funders in their communities.

#ChoirInfluencer: Choral Leadership Reimagined - Music Education

In this age of social media, the “influencer lifestyle” is all around us. While we may not all have a huge following on Instagram, as choral leaders, our choirs are filled and supported by an array of participants and supporters who look to us for example, inspiration, and leadership. In this session, we’ll get out of the musical score and leave conducting gestures for another time. Instead, we’ll explore what it means to be a choral leader off the podium.

Help Wanted: Establishing Healthy Relationships Amongst Boards, Boosters, and Volunteers - Music Education

Somewhere, deep down in the heart of the choir director who has run themselves ragged planning for next week’s concert, there is a voice that cries out, “You can’t do it alone!” And it’s right. You shouldn’t have to place the burden of choral leadership squarely on your shoulders. In this session, we will explore how to build a healthy community of supporters at all levels of leadership, from the boardroom, backstage, and everywhere in between!

Recruitment & Retention: It’s More than Numbers! - Music Education

Is bigger always better? On the surface, perhaps, but that’s just it—it’s only on the surface! Instead of focusing on numbers, what happens if we shift our thinking on recruitment and retention toward impact? In this session, we will explore a goal-oriented way of growing our choirs so that our size, scope, depth, and impact are magnified.

Building Your Brand: Choral Marketing 101 - Music Education

Ever wonder how others perceive your choir from the outside? The thought might have crossed your mind once or twice. In this session, we’ll consider this question from a marketing perspective, one that helps us analyze and evaluate the message that our brand and marketing efforts send to our community. Roll up your sleeves—this is Choral Marketing 101!

Accounting in the Arts: What Story Are Your Numbers Telling? - Music Education

In theory, musicians should be good at math. After all, we have to count beats and manage fractional rhythms almost daily! And while musicianship skills can take you far in the musical world, they hardly provide any grounding when it comes to talking about the other important numerical aspect of choirs: money. This session will be a crash course in Accounting for the Arts—that class that you missed in your undergrad!

Listen Up!: Using Feedback to Amplify Your Choir - Music Education

Raise your hand if you love receiving unsolicited feedback. Many will bristle at the thought of a singer’s parent calling the day after the concert to give their honest review. Still, there are opinions and feedback that might be worth hearing, especially if they can make you and your choir stronger. In this session, we will unpack what it means to build a culture of evaluation where feedback is welcomed, appreciated, and put to its best use: taking your choir to the next level.