‘The best thing for being sad,’ replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, ‘is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.’

David Schildkret has been teaching in colleges and universities since 1983 and views choral music as the ultimate interdisciplinary subject.  In his conducting, he tries to bring together his varied interests. He uses the same wide-ranging thinking in his classroom teaching.  His current courses include "Laughing to Music," an examination of music and humor offered online at Arizona State University, courses in conducting, choral repertory, and score study.  In addition, he leads three choirs at ASU.

His fundamental approach is student-centered.  He seeks to provide students with ample opportunities to pursue their own interests and to expand their abilities.  For example, students play a crucial role in choosing repertory for study and performance.  As part of ASU's integrated conducting program, he is committed to the notion that conductors must be broadly prepared: while choral conductors need special expertise in vocal technique and languages (among other skills), they must also be able to conduct an orchestra, prepare an opera chorus, and work with a wind ensemble.

He also lectures in the community, most recently through AZ Speaks and OLLI, an opportunity for people over 55 to study topics of interest.  Schildkret frequently gives workshops on singing to school choirs both at ASU and in their schools.  These range from an hour to day-long sessions that focus on tone production and singing with engagement.

He is proud of the many students who have sung in his choirs and taken his classes; they have gone on to do great things.  Here is a list of some of the graduate students who have studied choral conducting with him at ASU.

DMA students

These students completed a DMA in conducting at ASU under Dr. Schildkret's supervision:

Robb Butler

Jennifer Garrett, Director of Choral Activities, Bakersfield College

Vernon Huff, Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education, SUNY-Fredonia

Laura Inman, freelance musician, New York City

Julie Neish, Director of Choral Activities, Thiel College

Kenneth Owen, Chair of Music, Art, and Philosophy Departments, Pierce College

Carolyn Rynex, 2017 winner of the ACDA's Julius Herford Award for the best choral dissertation in the previous year

Steve Schank, LDS Institutes

Other DMA conducting students

These students worked with Dr. Schildkret for part of their training at ASU.

Greg Amerind, Mesa Community College

Cory Evans, Director of Choral Activities, Utah State University

Ryan Garrison, Choral Director, Arizona School for the ArtsJungHwan Kwon

Kenny Miller, Coordinator, Vocal Studies and Director of The Choirs at Phoenix College

Ryan Olsen, Assistant Professor of Music Education, Colorado State University

Catherine O’Shaughnessy, Founder and Artistic Director, Windy City Opera

Craig Peterson, Director of Choral Studies and Music Department Chair, Mesa Community College

Carric Smolnik, Pianist and Assistant Conductor, Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix

Current DMA students

Ashley Conway

Eunmi (Mia) Oh

Erica Glenn

Kiernan Steiner