Ensemble, by Dr. Eph Ehly

Dr. Eph Ehly presents his third headliner session, “Ensemble” at the IDACDA Fall 2021 convention at Northwest Nazarene University.

The vocal jazz lifeline

The shortest distance between the schooled choral director and teaching a jazz choir is the A Cappella Jazz Ballad. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina wrote some of my favorite choral music. My first “ah-ha” moment singing in a choir came while singing portions of his Missa Papae Marcelli (Pope Marcellus Mass) in my college choir. 

Beg, borrow, or steal—a survival guide for the rural choral teacher

In my teaching career I’ve had the opportunity to teach in three very distinct, very different school districts in the northwest. Oddly enough, my first school district was urban, my current school district is suburban, and the third district, in which I have spent the majority of my time, is rural. Each position has had certain advantages and challenges depending upon socio-economic status of the students, administrative support, and the content I was required to teach.

Jazz Resources from your friends in “Essential Jazz”

Overheard from some teachers … “I would like to start a jazz choir, but I just don’t know where to start!” Or… “I have a jazz choir, but I don’t always know what resources to use or where to find them.” Here are a few resources. Maybe this will help.

Awkward, difficult, strange and beautiful

Middle School. It’s the most awkward, difficult, strange and beautiful time in a young person’s life. I know I’m crazy for saying this but…I’m a middle school teacher for life. There are just under a million reasons why teaching middle school or junior high singers is a challenge.

Singing for your spiritual and physical health

Sunday morning is the time we all gather as a community to offer praise and thanksgiving to God for the “innumerable benefits procured unto us,” (Book of Common Prayer) and to bring our challenges, concerns, and heaviness to the altar of God beseeching to be heard and helped.


I have six children (not including the 200+ at school, of course) who regularly and incessantly ask me that very question. They find it to be such a useful word that it is invoked in virtually every imaginable situation. When they were very small I recall finding those questions elicited emotions ranging from amusement to delight in me.