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Mentoring a New Director with Kim Vaughn

Honolulu Blend Chorus had the pleasure of experiencing our own Make Your Own Music Fest this past month when Kim Vaughn came to Hawaii to work with the chorus and our new director, Ben Leonid. This is Ben’s first time directing a SAI chorus, and we were all looking for a little support.

Kim energized both Ben and the chorus members with her fun, lively and inspiring coaching. While working with our director, she also provided much fodder for us to think about and work on. By evening’s end, chorus members shared what they had learned from Kim – how to sing with a back beat, pivoting around the part that holds a constant note on a key change, how to stay on pitch when notes repeat, remaining loose and sounding like an organ not a piano. The next day, Kim worked directly with Ben to further cement her suggestions. And, the following week, we had an amazing rehearsal with a relaxed, focused and energized new director!

In Ben’s words, “Kim Vaughn’s visit was a whirlwind of inspiration and practical help. Right from the start, Kim was excellent about pointing out areas for improvement in conducting (posture, hand placement choice, timing) and rehearsal technique (increased repetition, group management, establishing narratives for songs, taking time to analyze tough sections), as well as vocal production. In my one-on-one follow up session, we talked about challenges faced by directors that are both general and specific to barbershop and Sweet Adeline, including logistics, music selection, riser arrangement, delegation, and community involvement. Kim’s energy and drive are contagious…!”

As Eda Sakimoto-linuma, one of our members, described the visit, “I found this last session very helpful with new techniques…Region 21 is a very exciting and dynamic group of ladies. Education and the availability of excellent training have been so beneficial to our chorus. My encounters with Kim…reflect the warm support and wonderful relationships that are so special.”

While here, Kim stated, “All directors need mentors”, and we were so happy to have her!

Pam Kosansky

Honolulu Blend Chorus

In the southwestern United States, Region 21 Golden West serves as a cornerstone to Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide organization that exists to advance the musical art form of barbershop harmony through education and performance. With 16 active choruses and several new choruses in the formation process, Region 21 is known for vibrant, competitive choruses that boast the highest levels of musical excellence and dynamic, award-winning quartets. Region 21 represents choruses in New Mexico, Arizona, southern California and Hawaii. The region hosts annual events for choruses and quartets that include regional competition, musical education, workshops, coaching and much more. Learn more at


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