Tom Shelton is an Assistant Professor of Sacred Music at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. Having grown up in North Carolina, Shelton is the epitome of “Southern hospitality,” among the most pleasant and considerate faculty on campus. His teaching style consists of positive reinforcement, a dash of sweet tea, and is served with a smile. With a professional base in Princeton, Mr. Shelton is an avid conductor, educator, and musician with a myriad of different ensembles.
A magician with children, it is no surprise that most of Mr. Shelton’s ensembles sound like heavenly child angels. One of his most notable associations is with the Princeton Girlchoir. With beginnings in 1989, the choir began as an afterschool activity for girls interested in choral music. It has now grown into a family of over six different ensembles, of which Mr. Shelton is the conductor of Cantores. This group was originally intended for alumni of the Concert choir, but has developed into the preeminent choral training for girls in grades 10-12.
While most of Cantores’ members are past the Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy stage, they are no match for Mr. Shelton’s particular brand of musical magic. Like a wizard of rehearsal technique, he wastes not an ounce of time while keeping the high school girls engaged. Keep in mind- these are two and a half hour long rehearsals every Monday night with teenage girls. Mr. Shelton fondly describes some of his favorite experiences with the choir which includes retreats and performing with Westminster Choir College at their annual Readings and Carols holiday concert.
If teaching at the collegiate level, and conducting Cantores weren’t enough, Mr. Shelton is also the Director of Music for Children and Youth at Princeton United Methodist Church. Some of the children in his church choir were also found at the Westminster Neighborhood Children’s Choir, a joint project of the Department of Sacred Music and Department of Music Education of Westminster Choir College and pioneered by – you guessed it –Mr. Shelton. This children’s choir was meant to give the students of WCC an opportunity to work within the community while also providing an outlet for children, who might otherwise be unable to afford the price tag of other ensembles and to sing in a choir. Not only were the children able to work with such a fine educator, but the associate student conductors also benefited from the hands-on experience, and the guided coaching of Mr. Shelton.
But, wait! There’s more! Professor Shelton is currently serving as the National President-Elect of the American Choral Directors Association, a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring excellence in choral music and music education. So if you happen to be in Minneapolis in 2017, maybe stop by the ACDA conference and say a quick hello to Tom Shelton. With a combination of music, magic, and compassion, Professor Shelton is a force to be reckoned with – one that surely brighten your life.
You can see my full interview with Tom Shelton here.