Guest Teaching


“Jim Marvin has been one of the most influential musical figures in my life. I was extremely fortunate to have not only sung under his direction for many years but also had him as a colleague at Harvard. What he taught us as students I use in my work as a conductor every day.”

–Kevin Leong

Conductor, Concord Chorus and
Masterworks Chorale

Since his retirement from Harvard, in addition to directing the Jameson Singers, Dr. Marvin has enjoyed choral residencies at the Universities of Southern California, Oregon, Stanford, Michigan, Temple, Boston, and Yale, and in fall 2013 was Visiting Professor at Stanford University, conducting their choral ensembles. He teaches choral literature of the 19th and 20th centuries to the doctoral students in conducting at Boston University.


1 - 5 Days:

    Workshops with your Choir(s)

    Seminars & Symposia for your Conducting Students

    Lecture/Demonstrations for your Choirs &/or Conducting Students

1 Week - 1 Semester:

    Visiting Scholar

    Artist in Residence

    Guest Conductor

    Sabbatical Leave Replacement

    Guest Residencies

Teaching Experience

Choral Conducting

    Beginning & Advanced

Repertoire & Literature

    Masterpieces of Choral Literature

    Vocal Music of the Renaissance & Baroque

Performance Practice

    Renaissance Choral Performance

    Aspects of Renaissance & Baroque Style


    Renaissance Music

    Sacred Choral Literature

    Music History

    Music Literature


    Harmony: Beginning & Advanced

“Jim's rehearsal technique is classical: based on sound ideas, tested over forty years on the podium, efficient, pure, structured. He is a superlative teacher.”

–Jeffrey Bernstein

Artistic Director, Master Choir of Pasadena

“Jim’s instruction was for me Harvard’s best, providing a roadmap to success in almost anything.”

–Harvard Glee Club ’00 alum

“Jim’s ability lies in his creative imagination, finding relationships between sound and time, form and function, but most of all text and music.  He provides his students with a goal that is so high that it has never occurred to them to reach for it before.”

–Scott Tucker

Director of Choral Music, Cornell University

Topics for Teaching

Dr. Marvin's 50 years of choral experience is the subject of his recent book, Emotion in Choral Singing: Reading Between the Notes, which illuminates principles that expand each of these topics.

My Methodology

The Conductor’s Process:

      Score Study: Style & Structure

      Text / Music Relationship

      Developing the Mental-Aural Image

      Preparing the Score for Rehearsal

      Preparing the Ear for Listening

      Rehearsing: The Heart of the Art

      Conducting: Informed Energy Informs

      Energy is Inspiring

Mastery of Choral Ensemble: Rehearsing

      How to Get your Choir to Sing in Tune

      Developing Ensemble Rhythm

      Matching the vowels 

      Balancing your choir

      Expression: dynamics, phrasing, articulation, linear direction, rubato

      Philosophies, procedures, techniques

Style & Performance

Renaissance Style

      Intervals, Cadence, Musica Ficta

      Notation, Mensuration, Proportion

      Temperament, Pitch, Tuning

      Size & Make-up of Performing Forces

      Performing 15th-16th c. music in the 21st c.

      Tempo, Tuning, Phrasing, Dynamics

      Editions: Criteria & Evaluation

Style, Text, & Music

      In Masterworks:

             Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610

             Concerted Works of Monteverdi & Schütz

             Handel’s Messiah, Dixit Dominus

             Bach’s B Minor Mass, St. Matthew Passion, Magnificat, Selected Cantatas

             Haydn: Selected Masses

             Mozart: C Minor Mass, Requiem

             Beethoven: C Major Mass, Missa Solemnis

             Brahms: Ein deutches Requiem

             Stravinsky: Mass, Symphonie de Psaumes

             Vaughan Williams: Dona nobis pacem, Five Mystical Songs

       In Smaller Gems by:

             Dufay, Ockeghem, Josquin, Palestrina, Lassus, Tallis, Byrd, Tomkins

             Monteverdi: selected madrigals & sacred concerti

              Senfl, Isaac, Compere, Josquin: selected lieder & chansons

             Madrigals of: Willaert, Cipriano, Marenzio, Gesualdo, Luzzaschi

             Bach: selected motets

             Brahms: selected motets & secular works

             Britten: selected sacred & secular works

             Martin: Mass

             Carter, Argento, O’Regan, Moravec, Kyr: selected works

Special Topics

  1. 1.The Expressive Power of Intervals

  2. 2.Gesture, Rhetoric & Affect: expression behind the symbolic notation

  3. 3.Conducting and Rehearsing Chorus & Orchestra

  4. 4.A Guide to Informed Performance in Baroque, Renaissance, & Classic Music

  5. 5.Conducting/Rehearsing Renaissance and Baroque works with large choirs in style

  6. 6.The Art of Planning for A Cappella Programs

  7. 7.Repertoire for Male Chorus: Renaissance, Romantic, Contemporary, Folk

  8. 8.Repertoire for Female Chorus: Renaissance, Romantic, Contemporary, Folk

  9. 9.Criteria for Choosing Tour repertoires

  10. 10.Conducting Choirs: Building Community