Educational Resources

Teacher & Student Guides

A series of lesson plans including personalized teacher and student guides have been prepared to support the use of The Beautiful Mess in education. Written by Emily Crocker and Dr Christopher Peterson, three different levels of material have been created to suit the experience and ability of the students.

Level 1: Curiosity Edition (middle or early high school)
Level 2: Creator Edition (high school or college entry-level)
Level 3: Composer Edition (advanced high school, college, university/conservatory)

All students watch the same video series and the written/PDF material is adapted for different levels of ability. Each level builds upon the previous level so it’s possible to teach multiple levels within the same classroom.

The Teacher Guide is identical for each edition with the Student Guides adapted for each level (Curiosity, Creator and Composer).

A Teacher Guide and Student Guide is available for the following sections:

Introduction to The Beautiful Mess
Chapter 1: A Snake Wearing Pants
Chapter 2: Emotional Architecture
Chapters 3 – 5: The Golden Brick
Chapter 6: The Primer
Chapter 7: Painting with Sound
Chapter 8: Voicing
Chapter 9: Background Counterpoint
Chapter 10: Finding Your Voice
Chapter 11: Walkthrough – The Gift of the Magi

There is also a short summative assessment to complete the course.

Level 1: Curiosity Edition

  • No previous musical training or knowledge of musical notation is required to use this edition.
  • Suitable for: middle school; early years of high school (ages 11–16)


Level 2: Creator Edition

  • Some previous musical training, choral experience, or basic experience with musical notation is recommended to get the maximum benefit from this edition.
  • Suitable for: high school or college entry level (ages 14–18)


Level 3: Composer Edition

  • Previous musical training, choral or instrumental experience, and/or experience with reading and creating musical notation is recommended to get the maximum benefit from this edition.
  • Suitable for: advanced high school, college, university (age 16+)


In addition to these educational resources, once you have enrolled you will find a reference sheet and perusal scores for several of Eric Whitacre’s compositions within the course curriculum.


Emily Holt Crocker

EMILY HOLT CROCKER taught public school music at all levels for 15 years in Texas. In 1989, she joined Hal Leonard, the largest publisher of choral and classroom publications in the world, becoming Vice President of Choral Publications in 2000, and retiring in 2017 after 29 years. She now resides in her hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, and enjoys composing, volunteering, consulting and participating in cultural activities in the area.

As a composer, Ms. Crocker’s works have been performed around the world and she has received ASCAP awards for concert music since 1986. She is well known for her work in developing choral instructional materials and is an author and senior editor of Voices in Concert, choral textbook series for grades 6-12.

She founded the Milwaukee Children’s Choir and directed that group from 1994-2009. While under her leadership, the choir grew from 35 members to over 400 and received acclaim for performances with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, the American Choral Directors Association, and internationally at festivals around the world. In addition, she established the MCC Harmony Program, with music instruction offered through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Public Schools.

In 2019 she was named Music Director Emeritus of the MCC. In 2009 she founded the Vocal Arts Academy of Milwaukee, a youth choir for grades 7-12, dedicated to the performance of outstanding choral literature of all eras and styles, leading that group until 2015. The Civic Music Association of Milwaukee awarded her the Distinguished Citizen Award – Professional in the Arts in 2009. She was named Honored Alumna for 2009 by the University of North Texas College of Music and in 2017 received the Outstanding Service Award from the Texas Choral Directors Association. In 2019 she was inducted into the Fort Worth Independent School District Wall of Fame.

Dr Christopher Peterson

CHRISTOPHER PETERSON is Professor of Music at California State University, Fullerton where he trains and mentors undergraduate and graduate choral music educators and conductors and directs the Concert Choir and the Singing Titans Chorus. He is a teacher, conductor, choral clinician, author, editor, and choral arranger of music and books published in the United States and around the world. In his over thirty years as a music educator Dr. Peterson has taught in elementary, middle school, high school, church, community, festival, and collegiate settings.

At Cal State Fullerton in May of 2019 he was honored as the University-wide recipient of the CSUF Carol Barnes Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has served as State Choral Representative and Southern Section President for the California Music Educators Association (CMEA), as well as the Western Division Representative for the National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) Council for Choral Education. He has also served the California Choral Directors Association in various offices, including CCDA President since 2021. His collegiate textbook “RESONANCE: The ART of the Choral Music Educator” is published by Pavane and is being used across the United States to train future choral music teachers and conductors.

He has been invited to teach, judge, and conduct choirs in more than thirty US states, five Canadian Provinces, and nine countries including China, England, Sweden, Japan, Germany, New Zealand, and Holland, and has conducted All-State Choirs across the nation including Maine, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Oregon, and California. Dr. Peterson also holds the position of Director of Music at Irvine United Congregational Church in Irvine, CA. His “hobby” for many decades has been enjoying singing barbershop harmony, and he is a BHS District Quartet Champion baritone, a top-5 medalist chorus director, and a four-time gold medalist with the Masters of Harmony, nine- time International Men’s Chorus Champions of the Barbershop Harmony Society. He earned the Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Southern Maine in choral and instrumental music education and the Master of Music in Choral Conducting degree at the University of Maine, and the Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education and Choral Conducting at Florida State University.

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