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American Choral Directors Association

Mission Statement

The mission of the American Choral Directors Association is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.


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January Blog

In the November Choral Journal I wrote about the four areas of focus from the American Choral Directors Association’s new mission statement. Those areas are Education, Performance, Composition, and Advocacy. I identified these areas as the four pillars of our mission statement, which states…. The mission of the American Choral Directors Association is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

Now, near the beginning of a new year, I would like to comment on the word that precedes those four areas of focus:that word is excellence. This is a tough assignment, so I saved it for the start of a new year so I could get my own thinking off to a good start. Many people have attempted to define excellence over the years, and the best that most come up with is a pursuit of the term.

If forced to come up with a definition of excellence on my own, I would have to say that excellence is defined as “better than….”  Of course, this begs the question, “Better than what?” And the answer to that question is, “Better than very good.”

Historically, ACDA has sought to make improvements in every area of choral practice by establishing a standing committee on Repertoire and Standards. This standing committee and the representatives in every state and division chapter for repertoire and standards accepts their leadershipposition with the understanding that they will help to keep choral standards very high. The ACDA Bylaws statethat their task is “to improve the quality of choral performance and literature in the United States”.

If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less-than-excellent work.

Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM


The seminal management book In Search of Excellence, by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, published in 1982, remains one of the best selling and widely read business books ever. Peters and Waterman found eight common themes which they argued were responsible for the success of the chosen corporations. They examined 43 of Fortune 500's top performing companies. Peters later said that the essential message of In Search of Excellence was simply People, Customers, and Action. The book turned these soft factors into hard ones, when previously the only “hard factors” were considered to be numbers.

Here is a summary of the eight themes from In Search of Excellence, with my paraphrase of them as adapted to our work in the American Choral Directors Association:

  1. A bias for action, active decision making - 'getting on with the mission of ACDA’
  2. Close to the member - learning from the people served by the ACDA.
  3. Autonomy and entrepreneurship - fostering innovation and nurturing 'best practices'.
  4. Productivity through people - treating grassroots members as a source of quality.
  5. Hands-on, value-driven - mission that guides everyday practice - leaders showing their commitment.
  6. Stick to the knitting - stay with the mission—choral music!
  7. Simple form, lean staff–keeping our staff lean.
  8. Simultaneous loose-tight properties - autonomy in leadership but keeping to centralized purposes and mission.

The question for ACDA is how to consistently apply these eight steps to our professional association. One of our national leaders suggested that we think about it this way:

American Choral Directors Association inspires its members.

The members inspire the music.

The music inspires the profession.

The profession inspires the art.

The art inspires the culture.

The culture inspires the civilization.

The civilization inspires the future.


Bravo!   3 Bravo From the desk of Tim Sharp   11/28/2012