Essentials in Writing has teamed up with HEAV to offer an amazing choir opportunity for students 14 to 18 years old. Students will participate in monthly webinars with Mr. Stephens and students across the region to learn about the art of choral singing. After students who are accepted into the choir receive rehearsal tracks (mp3 files) and sheet music, they will learn the music on their own under the guidance of choral conductor, Mr. Matthew Stephens. The group will culminate in choral workshops at HEAV convention. Potential performances are Saturday opening the AM Keynote, on the demo stage, and in the registration lobby.

Meet the Director

Matthew Stephens, the owner and author of Essentials in Writing, is the director of the HEAV2019 Choir. Stephens is in his final semester at Texas State University completing a Master of Music in Choral Conducting studying conducting with Dr. Craig Hella Johnson. In 2017-2018, Matthew served as Assistant Director of Men’s Chorus and Women’s Chorus. In Fall 2018, Stephens studied as the assistant director of University Singers with whom Stephens conducted the North American Premier of Dan Senn’s “Four Psalms Modal.”

Currently, Stephens serves as the Associate Director of Conspirare Youth Chorus in Austin, Texas. Prior to attending TSU, Stephens was a junior high and high school choral director. Stephens’ junior high choir earned district and state recognition with an invitation to sing at MMEA. They also sang for the Missouri Principal’s Annual Conference as well as a Christmas performance at the Missouri State Capitol. The choir was renowned locally for its vast choral repertoire, musicality, and consistent positive character awards. Stephens has also served as the Worship Choir director at Abundant Life in Springfield, MO.

He holds a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Missouri State University and a Master’s in Educational Administration from William Wood’s University. He is a certified teacher in Elementary Education, Middle School and High School English, and K-12 Music. Matthew is passionate about creating opportunities for students to participate in the choral experience!

Meet the Intern

Soprano, Ivy Cantu is a senior vocal performance major at Texas State University and studies with Cheryl Parrish. Her operatic roles include Reporter in Ruffled Flourishes (world premiere), Venus/Juno in Orpheus and the Underworld, L’écureuil in L’entfant et Les Sortilleges, Lady Bird in Lady Bird: First Lady of the Land (world premiere), Mrs. Grose in The Turn of the Screw, The Mother in Hansel and Gretel, and a soloist in Howl (world premiere). She made her debut with Alamo City Opera in their production of Maria de Buenos Aires as Futura Maria. She was awarded first place at Greater Houston NATS in 2015, a finalist at Texoma NATS in 2017, and recently won first place in the Edward Baird Singer of the Year competition at Texoma NATS in 2018.

Ivy joins Matthew Stephens as an choral intern. She serves as a worship leader at her church and has a lifetime of experience singing, coaching singers, and building relationships. She loves sharing her faith and praying for others. Her energetic and loving personality is contagious!


Registration opens January 7 and auditions must be submitted no later than February 11. THE SOONER THE BETTER!

Registration is complete with the audition form (below) and the singing audition have been completed and submitted.


Step 1:
Watch the sample audition HERE
Print this sheet music

Sight Reading Sheet Music

Step 2:
Using an iPhone or other mobile device, film your audition according to the directions below.
A. State your full name and age
B. Sing a major scale
C. Sing “Happy Birthday to You”
D. Sight read the sheet music you printed in Step 1

PLEASE NOTE: Auditions must be the voice alone without an instrument and no longer than 2 minutes.

Step 3:
Text your video to 417-255-4210

Step 4:
Complete the audition form below.

Student Information
Parent/Guardian Information
Mailing Address to Ship Music:
Auditions are based solely on singing and not experience. The following questions help us determine the appropriate music for this event.
Please share any information about your singing experience.
What interests you in singing in the HEAV 2019 All State Choir?


• NO REGISTRATION FEE (Essentials in Writing is sponsoring the event)
• Students who are 14 years old or older before January 1, 2019 may audition
• Students will attend be required to attend monthly rehearsal webinars February to May where they will learn choral singing technique
• Music will be provided to all students
• MP3 rehearsal files will be provided to students to help them learn their part
• Students will submit monthly milestone audio check-ins to Mr. Stephens
• Students must attend the Choral Workshops and performances at HEAV convention (see details below)


The purpose of the audition process is to determine the vocal range of singers and their skill level related to: matching pitch, staying in tune, and reading music. This information will be used to choose music for performances that are in line with skill level.

Students 14 years old on or before January 1, 2019 may audition. Students will prepare the following and submit no later than February 11, 2019.

Audition Details

Students will complete the form on the website and submit an audition video to the number listed. Using an iPhone or other such device, students will record themselves:

1. Stating their full name and age
2. Singing a major scale
3. Singing “Happy Birthday to You”
4. Sight read music provided on the website for those who can (not required)
* Auditions may be no longer than 2 minutes
*All auditions must be with the voice alone with no music


Students will be provided sheet music and mp3 file to learn the music. Sheet music and mp3 files will be sent by February 28.

Students will submit monthly milestone audio check-in to Mr. Stephens. (Instructions included)

Students will participate in monthly webinar rehearsals March to May.
(Note: If students have a time conflict, they may watch the webinar rehearsal later and provide the requested feedback.)

Choral Workshops/Rehearsals and Performance

Three rehearsals will be held at the convention: Thursday evening, Friday morning, and Friday afternoon
Potential performances chosen by HEAV admin: 1) opening the AM Keynote, 2) demo stage, 3) registration lobby.


The goal of this activity is two-fold:
1. Determine interest and participation levels for a more structured and featured choral festival working in conjunction with the HEAV convention
2. Provide students an opportunity to participate in an All-State like choir singing challenging yet rewarding music for an audience as well as learn the art of choral singing