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Becoming the Choral Poet - Book

Considerations and Techniques for the Advancing Conductor

Jerry McCoy

© 2020 GIA. Individual copyrights may apply.

Item #: G-10226     Status: Available

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How many times I have overheard a colleague say, ‘I could create a performance like that if I had those voices.’ Maybe so, but here is a book that will help you build healthy technique and ravishing tone that is responsive to the emotional content of the words being sung.

—Ann Howard Jones, from the Foreword

How do text and music intertwine to build true artistry in choral performance?

In Becoming the Choral Poet, esteemed conductor and teacher Jerry McCoy shares how choral conductors can guide their ensembles to deeper artistic expression through an understanding of and commitment to the poetic expression and emotional content of the words they sing.

McCoy shows how the poetic elements of a text—punctuation, assonance, onomatopoeia, mood, inflection—inform a host of musical decisions, including dynamics, phrasing, tempo, and color. He follows with guidance for developing an interpretative analysis of a work, using beautiful literature as examples.

Central to the book is a chapter on the choral poet’s “mechanics,” or their attributes, skills, and procedures. McCoy addresses a range of topics:

  • Personal and professional characteristics of conductors
  • Auditions
  • Rhythmic integrity
  • Creative seating charts and their uses
  • Rehearsal considerations
  • Characteristics of powerful programming
  • Conducting gestures to build vocal color and expressive shapes
  • Exercises to refine tuning and rhythmic skills


The book’s final chapter presents a collection of short essays from throughout McCoy’s career that aim to strengthen the conductor’s educational approaches, enhance choral performance, and broaden the cultural balance in today’s singing.

Becoming the Choral Poet is the culmination of a life’s work in the choral arts. For novice and seasoned conductors alike, this book builds the conductor’s imagination, allowing them to paint with the brush of their singers in rehearsals and concerts that are vocally, artistically, and creatively inspired.

Dr. Jerry McCoy is Regents Professor of Music Emeritus for the University of North Texas (UNT), where from 2000–2015 he led the choral program to national and international acclaim while serving as Director of Choral Studies and Conductor of the A Cappella Choir.

Categories: Choral/Vocal, Conducting, Musicianship, Pedagogy, Programming, Rehearsal

Number of Pages: 264

Format: Book

Discipline: Choir