Dana Van Slyke, Choral Director
About Herndon Choir




Choral Ensembles

The Herndon High School Choir Department is dedicated to keeping its high standard of musical performance — and to having fun while doing it! Students in all grades have the opportunity to participate in one or more of seven musical groups. With the exception of The Bennett Street Boys and the Shebees, the groups study, rehearse, and perform as regular classes for which they receive elective credits. Rehearsals and performances both in and out of school are required. Auditions are required for all choral groups except Concert Choir.

The HHS choral groups are described below. Complete course descriptions are provided in the HHS Course Catalog. Detailed requirements for rehearsals, performances, and costumes are provided in the Chorus Handbook.

Concert Choir 

Herndon High School Concert ChoirThe “chorus for everyone,” Concert Choir is a beginning- level chorus of mixed men’s and women’s voices, but singers of all grades and experience are welcome. Emphasis is on correct vocal performance techniques. Repertoire includes traditional and classical art songs and musical theater songs.

Herndon Chorale

Herndon High School Chorale (Womens Choir)This group offers advanced choral experiences specifically for women’s voices. Students develop both musicianship and proficiency in ensemble performance. Course content includes a study of choral literature from all music periods and styles, vocal techniques, and sight-singing. 

Heatwave Show Choir

Herndon High School Heatwave Show ChoirHeatwave is Herndon’s musical theater group. Students develop musicianship and proficiency in ensemble performance, study of appropriate literature, vocal techniques, sight-singing, and choreography. Repertoire includes selections from popular music, jazz standards, and Broadway musicals. Students also gain experiences in stagecraft, costuming, makeup, and expressive movement.

Vocal Jazz 

Herndon High School Vocal JazzVocal Jazz is an ensemble group for advanced mixed voices. Emphasis is on rehearsal and performance techniques from the genre of jazz standards, blues, and ballads. This class meets outside of the regular school day, with Mr. Jim Van Slyke, Vocal Jazz Clinician.


Herndon High School Madrigal SingersThe Herndon High School Madrigals Singers combine rich a cappella harmonies, courtly manners, and elegant costumes to evoke the romance of the medieval to renaissance periods. Madrigals is an advanced mixed choral group in which emphasis is placed on the development of musicianship and proficiency in ensemble performance. Course content includes a study of choral literature, vocal techniques, and sight-singing. Performances are unaccompanied and often student-led. Repertoire can include popular and sacred songs in English, Italian, German, or French. Madrigals have a heavy schedule of extracurricular performances during the December holiday season.

The Bennett Street Boys 

Herndon High Schools The Bennett Street BoysAn all-male a cappella performance group, The Bennett Street Boys' repertoire includes folk music, spirituals, and classic popular songs. The group meets outside of the regular school day. (BSB is an extracurricular activity — not a credit course.)


Herndon High Schools ShebeesAn all-female a cappella performance group. Shebees meets outside of the regular school day. (Shebees is an extracurricular activity — not a credit course.)

The HHS Choir Department performs four to five concerts each year. Students are required to attend, and they receive a grade for their participation. The performance schedule also includes the Broadway Cabaret and a Competition/Trip event. 

Concerts are described below. Detailed schedules and information are provided throughout the school year.

Fall Sampler Concert

Select Choirs perform a sampling of music that they have been working on since the beginning of the school year.

Winter Choir Concert 

All seven HHS choirs perform classical and traditional selections in celebration of the season. The choirs combine for the closing piece of the evening.

Pyramid Concert

Choirs from elementary schools in the HHS Pyramid — Aldrin, Armstrong, Clearview, Dranesville, Herndon, and/or Hutchison elementary schools, Herndon Middle School  and HHS — gather to perform in this concert.  Individual performances by each choir are followed by the culminating event; more than 500 elementary, middle, and high school students singing together on one stage.

Spring Pre-Assessment Concert and District XII Choral Festival 

Choral students from HHS and Herndon Middle School perform their District XII Choral Festival music for an audience. All HHS choirs perform at the Pre-Festival Concert. However, only selected choirs attend the actual festival, which is held shortly thereafter. Choirs are judged and rated on various performance criteria, including sight-singing.

Pops Concert

A night of musical theater allows the students to showcase their talents. At this final concert of the year, students perform as part of their choral ensembles as well as in smaller, student-led groups and solos. The program includes song, dance, costume and set changes, and music from every genre of popular music: rock to rap, mellow to metal, country to coffee house. The choirs combine for the closing piece of the concert — and the school year.


Dana Van Slyke
HHS Choral Director

Dana Van Slyke has served as choral director at Herndon High School since 1995. During her time there, she has conducted the Concert Choir, Herndon Chorale, Heatwave show choir, the Madrigal Singers, Bennett Street Boys and the Shebees. In addition, she has taught AP and introductory music theory.

Under her direction, the Herndon choirs have received much recognition for their excellence in performance. The Herndon Madrigals have performed at the White House six times in the past ten years. In 2003 and 2008, the Herndon Madrigals and Vocal Jazz were featured at the Virginia Music Educators Association Conference. Ms. Van Slyke received the Commendation of Excellence as a Fairfax County Teacher of the Year Nominee in 2004 and the Herndon Optimist Club Partnership in Education Award in 2006. In 2011 Mrs. Van Slyke was selected to receive the Wolftrap Performing Arts Teacher Scholarship Award. She used her cash award to commission a special piece, entitled, "Savor So". It was premiered in May 2011 by the HHS Choirs.

Ms. Van Slyke is a graduate of Ithaca College with a degree in music education and vocal performance. She also holds a master’s degree in music education from Shenandoah Conservatory. She feels her most important accomplishment, however, is her wonderful family, Jim, Conor, and Ethan!

Contact Ms. Van Slyke
Phone: 703-810-2333
E-mail: dana.vanslyke@fcps.edu

 Jim Van Slyke
Vocal Jazz Clinician

Jim Van Slyke serves as the vocal jazz clinician for Herndon High School.  He has also served extensively as an adjudicator, clinician, guest conductor, and guest speaker. A nationally recognized vocal coach, Jim has taught on the voice faculties of Ithaca College and Catholic University, and he has active studios in both the New York City and Washington, D.C., metropolitan areas. Student credits include Broadway, off-Broadway, national tours, the Metropolitan Opera, and even the Radio City Rockettes. 

As a solo artist, Jim has sung on stages throughout the United States and Europe and has received critical acclaim for his New York cabaret performances. In 2006, Jim signed with the prestigious LML Music record label and released his debut album, Open Road. The album earned a Grammy nomination for best pop vocal album, and Jim received an ASCAP songwriters award for his self-penned title track. August 2011 marked the release of his new album, "The Sedaka Sessions" featuring the music of Neil Sedaka including two duets with the pop music legend.

Jim is a graduate of Ithaca College with a degree in vocal performance. He also holds a master’s degree in vocal pedagogy/performance from Catholic University.

Contact Jim Van Slyke
Phone: 703-463-7185
E-mail: voicestudio@jimvanslyke.com

 Musical, Cabaret, and More!

HHS Musical

This performance is held in conjunction with the HHS Drama and Music departments, and can be scheduled for fall or spring. Productions in recent years have included Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, and Beauty and the Beast.

Broadway Cabaret 

Top hats and canes, flashy costumes, dancing shoes — these are the hallmarks of this annual event, which features favorite selections from Broadway musicals. The Cabaret spotlights the collaborative talents of students from both the HHS Choir and Drama departments. Students choreograph the musical pieces and design and build their own stage sets. Student participation is open to the entire school. Auditions are usually held in October/November; performances are in January/February..

Spring Trip / Chorus Competition

These annual trips allow students to travel to often exotic locations to compete in festivals with choruses from other states. The trips, which typically last three to four days, include performance and adjudication as well as tours and activities. Student participation is optional and must be financed individually; fundraising opportunities are provided. The competitions are usually held in the spring, and the students travel to festival venues in and out of state: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida; New York City; Nashville, Tenn, and Virginia Beach.

Honors Chorus Events 

Opportunities for HHS students to audition and perform in local, state, and regional honors choruses are plentiful. District XII Chorus, All-State Chorus, All-County Men’s Chorus, and the Honors Choir at Longwood University (for seniors only) are just a few. Selected students spend one or two days working on several pieces with a guest conductor, and then perform the pieces in concert. Audition and performance dates are provided in the schedule and announced in class.

Awards Event

This fun end-of-year event is for all choir students and their families. They will share some tasty food and receive awards and certificates for their participation in choral groups and honors choruses. Graduating seniors receive special honors, and the Paper Plate Awards – "best of" distinctions that students vote on in class are announced.

Miscellaneous Events

These can include hosting of chorus festival events at HHS, such as District XII Chorus; Baccalaureate and/or Graduation performances; Back-to-School Night; and other school events.