Irvin Cooper, Professor of Music Education at Florida State University (1950-1971), was the originator of the Cambiata Concept. One day, Don L. Collins, one of Cooper’s doctoral students (1967 to 1970), was chatting informally with Cooper, when the future of the concept surfaced. Cooper somberly stated, “If the concept is to remain alive, it may well be left up to you.” In spring 1979, eight years after Cooper’s death, Dr. Collins founded the Cambiata Vocal Institute of America, an incorporated, nonprofit, state-chartered educational institution. Over the next fifty years, the concept has been kept alive, and it has proliferated in the classrooms of thousands of music educators and church musicians throughout the world. Through 2014, Dr. Collins (1939-2016) remained the Institute’s director. In early 2015, Dr. Collins invited Dr. Alan C. McClung to serve as the new director of the Cambiata Institute of America for Early Adolescent Vocal Music. The Institute’s primary purpose has always been to promote quality music for the changing voice and to offer vocal/choral music educators a sound training into the comprehensive philosophy and methodology of the cambiata concept. The Cambiata Institute’s basic tenets follow:
- Music is a discipline and should be taught as such. Through structured curriculum individuals are taught (1) to understand and respond to the written language of music, (2) to sing with ease and beauty through proper vocal/choral technique, and (3) to communicate the message of the text and aural musical sound in an artistic and stylistic fashion.
- Vocal music is an innate ability of all humans. With discipline, it can be developed into a meaningful art form that heightens one’s asethetic values that reflect life’s fundamental nature.
- The four ingredients in music include melody, rhythm, harmony, and form. All should be experienced as an aural art before learning to navigate the written musial language.
- The study of music not only prepares one for professional service; but more importantly, it develops sensitive, artistic individuals who are better equiped to confront life’s challenges successfully.
- Americans have an extensive music heritage. Singers should experience and express themselves in a pleatha of musical styles.
The term “music educator” immediately brings to mind the training of teachers for service in the public schools. The scope of Cambiata Institute of America for Early Adolescent Vocal Music encompasses the public school and more. It serves five distincit areas:
- PUBLIC, PRIVATE INDEPENDENT, PRIVATE PAROCHIAL, and HOME SCHOOL EDUCATION: These four examples encompass the traditional teacher-training arena.
- CHURCH MUSIC EDUCATION: Society’s church music heritage lies in teaching adolescents to express their faith in song. Church vocal/choral musicians hold that key to success. They deserve to be trained in the vocal needs of the early adolescent.
- PRIVATE VOCAL STUDIOS: Increasingly, early adolescent vocal students study voice on a private basis. To teach the early adolescent singer successfully, the private voice instructor must be appropriately trained.
- THE BOY CHOIR TRADITION: Institutions, that specifically train choral musicians to become boy choir directors, are rare. The boy choir is an important part of the American choral tradition that should be preserved. Knowledge of the changing voice is essential for success.
- PROFESSIONAL EARLY-ADOLESCENT VOCAL SINGING: Vocal music directors, who are responsible for professionally-based adolescent singers (examples include stage-theater singers and commerical singers), need appropriate training that focuses on the needs of the early adolescent voice.
Institute activities have sponsored vocal/choral music workshops in almost every state in the United States as well as abroad.