2022 Colorado Music Educators Association Conference 2022 Colorado Music Educators Association Conference

Research-based Strategies for Recruitment and Retention in Choir

- MST
Bartolin Hall E-213/214

Seth Pendergast
Colorado State University, Assistant Professor in Music Education

Seth Pendergast has presented clinics, workshops and research at various universities, school districts and conferences, both locally and nationally. He taught choir and general music for seven years at McLaughlin Middle School in Lake Wales, FL. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor in Music Education at Colorado State University. He has published work in a number of leading music education journals in music education including the Journal of Research in Music Education, Music Educators Journal, and Update: Applications of Research in Music Education.

Kaitlin Miles
Fort Collins High School, Vocal Music Director

Kaitlin Miles is in her fifteenth year of teaching vocal music, all of which have been spent with the wonderful students at Fort Collins High School.  Originally from Fort Collins, Kaitlin received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, graduating magna cum laude in the spring of 2007.  Her choirs consistently receive Superior ratings at festivals and numerous students in the FCHS choral department are selected annually for the Colorado All-State Choirs.  In addition to her duties at Fort Collins High School, Kaitlin also serves as the Administrative Assistant for Colorado All State Choir.  Today’s performance marks Kaitlin’s fourth appearance at CMEA with the FCHS choirs.  She resides in Fort Collins with her husband, Shane, adorable sons, Landon and Sawyer, and lots of family.

Will Ecker
Fort Collins High School, Choir Director

William Ecker completed his Bachelors of Music Education Degree with a Vocal emphasis from the University of Northern Colorado in 2008 and completed his master's in choral conducting in 2016 at the University of Northern Colorado under Dr. Galen Darrough and Dr. Jill Burgett. Mr. Ecker is in his 6th year teaching choirs and music at Fort Collins High School. Along with developing an advanced Men's Choir, FCHS choirs have also consistently received the highest ratings at CHSAA competitions across the state. His students are frequently accepted to the Colorado All-State Choirs in record high numbers as well as consistent appearances at CMEA. Prior to teaching and Fort Collins High School, Mr. Ecker took a music position at Weld Central Middle School, building the program from 35 students to 225 over 6 years. In 2013, he became a founding board member of the Colorado Middle School All-State Choir. William Ecker has served many roles in the Colorado All-State Choirs, namely as co-chair of the Colorado Middle School All State Board as well as Onsite coordinator for both the High school and Middle School All state Choirs for many years.

Julia Dale
Rock Canyon High School, Director of Vocal Music

Julia Dale is the Director of Vocal Music at Rock Canyon High School, where she conducts the Tenor/Bass Chorus, Treble Choir,  Echos Choir and the Jag Choir,  teaches A.P. Music Theory and vocal directs the school musical each year. She is also the advisor for the Rock Canyon chapter of the Tri-M Music Honors Society.  In addition to her teaching load, Ms. Dale is the department chair and serves as Colorado ACDA Women’s Choir R&S Chair. Her choirs have toured Italy, New York City, Hawaii, Missouri, Colorado and were invited to perform with the prestigious Eastman School of Music Chorale under the direction of Dr. William Weinert. Ms. Dale is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where she received a B.M. in Music Education with a vocal emphasis. She earned an M.M. in choral conducting from Westminster Choir College of Rider University.


Choral music educators are often anxious about enrollment rates in their choir programs. Moreover, the schooling disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may have deepened these concerns. In this session, we explore practical strategies and research-based concepts for recruitment and retention in the choral classroom. First, we will briefly address the basic social-psychological factors that motivate students to begin and sustain activities in their lives. Second, each of these concepts will be paired with practical recruiting and retention strategies. We will provide attendees with our own tried-and-true strategies as well as a compendium of recruiting strategies sourced from other Colorado choral educators. Third, we will conclude with a brief discussion of what healthy choral participation might look like - and it's not always about having the biggest program in town!

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