URJ Teen Songleading Fellowship

More than perhaps anything else in the Jewish world, music has the power to bring our community together in worship, celebration and action.
The URJ Teen Songleading Fellowship invites young Jewish songleaders to develop their songleading skills, deepen their knowledge of repertoire and communal singing technique, and build meaningful leadership and relationship opportunities in their congregations, camps, and communities.
Open to Jewish 10th – 12th grade teens from around North America, this prestigious application-only, nine-month Fellowship includes:

  • A weekend retreat to launch your learning and get to know your full cohort
  • A monthly video meeting with master song leaders to learn new skills and music
  • A local sponsoring mentor who will help you complete monthly “action assignments” such as teaching a new song or music writing
  • Future opportunities to song lead at URJ national events, camps, and youth programs

Looking to grow your songleading skills and connections? Fill out this short interest form to start the application process!
More information, including key dates and more details on the application process, are below.

Program Details

The URJ Teen Songleading Fellowship will give you the training, experience and confidence needed to:

  • Find your own voice as a Jewish leader
  • Develop comfort in front of a room
  • Explore how to teach new and familiar songs
  • Sing with and lead diverse age groups
  • Partner with congregational professionals
  • Develop the requisite skills of analysis, process, feedback gathering and self-reflection
  • Explore your own role as a leader in the Reform movement to not only become more proficient leaders of communal singing, but also become equipped to engage in ongoing leadership development.

Teens will learn from highly regarded experts in the field, receive mentorship from on the ground professionals, and complete projects that share their learning and leadership with their greater Jewish communities.

Part 1 - Learning & Exploring

The URJ Teen Songleading Fellowship will kick off with a virtual meeting of introduction and then an in-person programming retreat in November. We will use this initial meeting to build community and explore general songleading principles and technique. We will consider how and why communal singing is and important part of Jewish life, how songleading is about leadership before music, and how preparation is the key to all successful songleading! We will use our first virtual meeting and the in-person gathering to create a program plan for the year.

In these first two months, teens will meet with their Mentors, with feedback from Cantor Rosalie Will Boxt, Program Diretor, to create shared expectations for the project and to finalize the scope of work.

Part 2 - Teaching and Leading

In the second phase of the Fellowship, participants will dive deeply into their congregational work, supported by their Sponsoring Mentor on the ground. Each month, the participants will work on one “action assignment,” take part in preparation, execution, reflection and evaluation in partnership with their Sponsoring Mentor. Action assignments include things like watching someone lead services, leading a song a group already knows, teaching a new song, leading a song for an age-group you have not previously worked with….

Each month at the virtual check-in, participants will have the chance to unpack the experience, support each other and hear the best principles learned from each.

The Sponsoring Mentors will share with the Program Director progress at select check-in points along the way, and ensure success for the participant through support and guidance.

Examples of session content include: How to teach a song, how to know your audience, how to lead meaningful worship moments, how to work with a partner, how to work with very small children to adults, how to create a small curriculum or song session, how to evaluate your work

Part 3 - Next Steps

In the final stage of the Fellowship, teens will consider the next opportunities to learn and grow in their songleading leadership skills. With the support of the Mentor in the congregation and the Program Director, teens will be guided to summer programs, ongoing training opportunities, or deeper congregational work to continue their songleading journey.

Though building a social network and personal growth is critical to our Fellowship, our focus is on empowering teens to catalyze community through song. Our Fellows will walk away not only able to raise up their own voice in song, but also able to use their voice to inspire a room to sing in unity with them.

Program Leader

Cantor Rosalie Will Boxt is the Program Director of this Fellowship.  As the URJ Director of Worship and Music, she brings over 20 years of experience as a professional songleader, cantor and teacher of songleading and music leading, as well as years spent as a congregational cantor and mentor to students in congregations and NFTY. She will bring the best practitioners, teachers and musicians to share their expertise with our Fellows and support our teens and mentors in the field to mobilize more capable music leadership in our communities.

FAQs

Who should apply to this Fellowship? The URJ Teen Songleading Fellowship is for 10th-12th graders who are ready to take their song leading to the next level. Different than the URJ Nashir program which provides a single weekend of training for song leaders at all different levels, this is a year-long fellowship meant to delve deeper into the craft of song leading for a community. Teens who have some experience leading music – whether it is in their congregation, at school, at camp, in NFTY, or in other youth programs – are best suited for this Fellowship.

Do I have to play the guitar to be in the Fellowship? You do not have to play guitar to be in the Fellowship, though it is desirable.

How much time will it take to be in this Fellowship? In addition to the retreat in November, participants should plan on spending approximately 3-5 hours a month on this Fellowship including:

  • 1 hour with the full cohort on a video call
  • 1 hour with their local Sponsoring Mentor
  • 1-3 hours preparing and completing the action assignment

Though of course conflicts occasionally come up, we expect that Fellows will make every effort to be on every call.

What is a Sponsoring Mentor? In addition to the Program Director and song leaders, participants will also work with a Sponsoring Mentor. A Sponsoring Mentor is a local support person who helps participants both reflect on their learning and helps them find opportunities to complete their action assignments. Participants will choose their own Sponsoring Mentor from the adults they already know in their congregation or community. Applicants will have until September 1st to provide the name of their Sponsoring Mentor. A letter and materials will be sent to you after you apply to help you ask a local adult to fulfill this role for you and our team will support you if needed.

Your Sponsoring Mentor should be someone who:

  • Is local
  • You would like to work with
  • Can give you access to a community to song lead for (religious school, youth group, synagogue worship…) so you can complete the action assignments
  • Someone who knows you and can write a recommendation for you to the Fellowship

What if I can’t attend the retreat? The retreat will provide vital learning for the year and will be an important part of the overall program. However, if you are unable to attend the retreat let us know in your application and we will be in touch about possibilities.

How will you decide which applicants are accepted? While this Fellowship is a very exciting opportunity, we are unfortunately unable to accept all applicants. We look forward to creating a diverse cohort and will be considering:

  • Past general leadership experience
  • Past songleading experience
  • Knowledge of vocal and instrumental music & past performance experience
  • Excitement for the Fellowship
  • Opportunity for completing action assignments
  • Recommendation from Sponsoring Mentor

What happens after the Fellowship? Participants will receive a certificate of completion after the Fellowship, as well as language that can be used on job applications and resumes. In addition, Fellows will have the opportunity to song lead at various URJ programs including national gatherings such as NFTY Convention and URJ Biennial, camp and NFTY.

I’m ready to apply! What’s next?

Great! There are a few steps to take:

  1. Fill out this interest form. We will send you the full application for you to fill out and a letter to share with your sponsoring mentor once we receive your interest form. Choose who you would like to ask to be your Sponsoring Mentor (see below for more details)
  2. Ask the person you have chosen to be your Sponsoring Mentor to fill this role for you. Have a preliminary conversation with your Sponsoring Mentor and invite them to view this website including the “For Sponsoring Mentor” section. Once you receive the full letter, you can share that as well.
  3. Put a hold on your calendar November 7-10th for the Kick-Off retreat.

When will I find out if I was accepted? The application period ends on August 25th and applicants will be notified by September 15th if accepted into the Fellowship. Your Sponsoring Mentor will need to agree to sponsor you and fill out the Sponsoring Mentor form prior to September 1st for you to be considered for this Fellowship.

Not sure who to pick as a Sponsoring Mentor and need some help? Please reach out to Rosalie at rboxt@urj.org.

For Sponsoring Mentors (Synagogue or Communal Professionals)

Know someone who might be interested? Nominate a teen.

Thank you for your interest in being a Sponsoring Mentor and helping a new songleader develop their songleading skills, deepen their knowledge of repertoire and communal singing technique, and build meaningful relationships with you and other professionals, as well as with young people and adults within our community.

A Sponsoring Mentor is a local support person who helps participants both reflect on their learning and helps them find opportunities to complete their action assignments. Participants choose their own Sponsoring Mentor from the adults they already know in their congregation or community.

By agreeing to be a Sponsoring Mentor, you will be agreeing to:

  • Attend the opening webinar with Cantor Rosalie Will Boxt on Sept 11th, 2019 from 8-9pm EST to learn about the full structure of the program
  • Meet monthly with your mentee to:
    • Help them complete action assignments (such as observing a worship leader or teaching a song) and support with logistics, calendar, and staff support to ensure that they are set up for success. You will receive monthly emails so that you know the assignments and needs.
    • Process, debrief and reflect on each project and offer feedback and success metrics along the way based on metrics provided by the program leaders.
    • Share in their excitement, commitment and developmental needs as they move through the fellowship as the learning and growing deepens.
  • Fill out 2 questionnaires during the year to let the Program Director know any suggestions for how to help me continue my Jewish songleading journey.

Once you have spoken to the teen applicant and feel comfortable serving as their Sponsoring Mentor, please fill out this form. Sponsoring Mentor forms are due by September 1st.    Please note that teens will need a Sponsoring Mentor in order to participate in this program.  We are grateful for your partnership.

Costs and Application

Cost

The cost of the year-long Fellowship is $350. This covers:

  • Retreat expenses including room, board, program and transportation to/from airport (flight costs are additional)
  • Resources including music and song sheets
  • Mentoring and monthly meetings

Participants are strongly encouraged to speak with their Sponsoring Mentor to explore local scholarship opportunities. Need-based scholarships may also available from the URJ. Please contact Rosalie at rboxt@urj.org for more information.

Application

Fill out this form to let us know you're interested! We'll send you the application when it is ready.

Dates

Dates for the URJ Teen Jewish Songleading Fellowship 2019-2020:

Sept 11th, 2019: Sponsoring Mentor Meeting via Zoom (8:00 – 9:00 pm)

October 23rd, 2019: 1st Teen Cohort Monthly Meeting via Zoom (8:00 – 9:30 pm)

November 7-10th at URJ Eisner Camp, Great Barrington, MA…. Program Kickoff Retreat

December 18th, 2019: Monthly Meeting via Zoom (8:00 – 9:30 pm)

January 15th, 2020: Month Meeting via Zoom (8:00 – 9:30 pm)

February 12th 2020: Monthly Meeting via Zoom (8:00 – 9:30 pm)

March 18th 2020: Monthly Meeting via Zoom (8:00 – 9:30 pm)

April 22nd 2020: Monthly Meeting via Zoom (8:00 – 9:30 pm)

May 13th 2020: Culminating Meeting via Zoom (8:00 – 9:30 pm)

Our Partnership

 

NFTY - the Reform Jewish Youth Movement:

NFTY is a movement that builds strong, welcoming, inspired communities through teen-powered engagement. Together, we pursue tikkun olam, personal growth, youth empowerment, and deep connections, all rooted in Reform Judaism. Teens from all streams of Judaism are welcome and encouraged to participate. 

American Conference of Cantors:

The American Conference of Cantors, through its support for and cultivation of excellence among cantors, strengthens Reform Jewish life in North America. ACC cantors are equipped to be attentive to the joys and challenges that members within a congregation face over the course of their lives, using both their unique calling to music and prayer and their shared responsibilities for offering spiritual leadership to congregations. ACC members also can help lead their congregations and by extension, the Reform Jewish movement in North America, to a bright future. The ACC maintains rigorous standards for ordination/certification, offers deep support for the professional needs of cantors, advocates with passion for the evolving role of the cantorial vocation, and cultivates ever-increasing professional excellence among its members.

The ACC is thrilled to partner with the URJ to support the training and development of young songleaders, fostering in them leadership skills and a love of Jewish communal singing which will enhance our community for years to come.