Not only is Jo-Michael Scheibe a graduate and undergraduate choral director at USC, he has served the ACDA as national president, Western Division president, and R&S Chair.


Choir Chat asked in a recent discussion, why do you take the time to give back?’


In 1971, Jo-Michael Scheibe sang in the first national ACDA convention in Kansas City with Frank Pooler. This widened his world of choral music, exposing him to many wonderful choirs and offering him an experience he would never forget as a young singer. Like many in the profession, Jo-Michael Scheibe gives back because he has been given too. When you give back, says Scheibe, you meet people and you help the organization grow. It’s volunteerism.


How do you know when you are ready to stand in front of a choir?

It’s a good question.

The rehearsal process is where the best music is made.

Jo Michael Scheibe says score study is never complete. There are various levels of depth that you must go through. The hardest part is finding the quiet time to complete the needed score study. If it’s not something you want to conduct, than why would you dedicate time to study it? So it’s a constant battle, finding the adequate time to prepare it and working with one group of singers to perform it. Every piece has a different approach. So commit time to the points that need guidance and discovery of the the music. The group needs to have its personality to the music, so that’s why there’s no fixed solution.

We’re constantly evolving as conductors, says Jo-Michael Scheibe. Score study shows that the work is constantly in flux. Students will bring out aspects of the music that you never realized before. There are so many levels of the music to analyze; then the individual voices of the choir can be highlighted.

If you’re unwilling to change, you won’t benefit your students. Being holistic at the start and being more detailed as you go through helps as you continue with the study. You have to allow a piece to gestate, to settle into your being. And then you can grow.

One of the greatest things you can do is go on tour with a choir. During the tour, the choir gathers esteem and energy on great music, they get better with the music, and they enjoy the challenge of the music. Real life experiences teach students about acoustics; you won’t always be in the perfect hall where you practice. It puts everything into a collaborative experience between the singer and conductor. It’s a wonderful place to be.


The Choral Art

Living composers are Jo-Michael Scheibe’s role models. On social media- such as Soundcloud and Youtube – composers will reach out with their piece and ask if you can do it. So, you say no, sorry, or sure, I’ll give it a listen and try it out. Jo-Michael Scheibe didn’t intend to get involved with publishing, but he started by simply helping students and grew into what it is today.


Helping Students

What advice is fruitful for helping up-and-coming musicians and conductors?

Jo-Michael Scheibe’s advice? Keep your ego in check. You want to ensure that your love of the art continues through your students. Yes, you have to have some sort of ego to learn, grow, and promote, but your ego should be their to serve the music and the students.


You are here to observe and learn. If you’re going to school to get a doctorate; don’t do it. That’s the wrong reason. If you’re going to school to get better at your craft; then you’re on the right path.
For more advice, listen to the entire Choir Chat podcast and follow Jo-Michael Scheibe on Twitter.