Tuesday Afternoon


Somehow, Tuesday is always harder on my students than Monday was.  Those that were wide awake yesterday are exhausted today.  I’m sure why that happens.  It just seems to work out that way.  Thankfully, most were excited to come into our classroom and work to learn right away.  Those that needed more time, took a few more minutes to regroup and quickly joined in.

Today…Tuesday, was our first day with staging our pieces for our upcoming concert.  This is always a challenge because some students don’t feel comfortable “dancing” in front of an audience.  With the help and support of the other students, we find ways  to help alleviate most stresses.  Through this process, we realize that if we all work together, the show will be a success.  If someone doesn’t give their all, it will be that person the audience looks at…sometimes with a critical eye, sometimes with confusion, sometimes with pity.  If they do their best, no one will know they don’t feel comfortable.  The students are also reminded that we have about three weeks to practice and accomplish all of this…ample time to help each of us become more practiced and at ease with what we are going to do.

I haven’t told most of the classes yet that I will be singing with one of the groups.  The group I will be singing with knows, just not the others. I haven’t ever sung with my students at any of our concerts thus far. When we practice and I demonstrate what I want from them, many of my students have asked me to sing to them.  Some have even asked me to sing with them on occasion.  However, I have always felt it was their show…not mine.

Earlier this year, I went to a music training where the presenter talked about ways to enhance our choir performances.  Many of those ways are in the works for this concert.  But one stuck out to me…the presenter asked us why we weren’t singing with our students.  The responses given were very much like my thoughts.  He then went on to say…If you aren’t sharing your talents with your students, what are doing teaching them? Wow, that made me think.

So, I went to my advanced group and asked them what they wanted.  Did they want me to sing with them?  Would they rather have it be solos from the students? Although there are always students that want to sing solos, I was really surprised by the number of students that wrote on a silent/anonymous ballot that they wanted me to sing with them.  I was honored.

I still want them to shine more than me so I gave into their requests for me starting the song with a black stage and spotlight, them slowly joining me on stage singing as they enter but then I will back off so my voice blends rather than stands out.  It will be an interesting evening as this piece is our closing number.  It will be interesting because many decisions should have been made by then.  It will be interesting to see what some of the parents say about me performing with their students.

For now, I worry not about those things.

For now, I care much more about getting the students ready and finding my groove with how we want to perform it.

For now, I will continue to look for Tuesday afternoons:

I’m just beginning to see
Now I’m on my way
It doesn’t matter to me
Chasing the clouds away


A Really Interesting Day after Spring Break

Today was my first day back after having a week off for Spring Break.  Although I had really enjoyed my time off because I got to spend time with my children, start this website and blog and clean my house a bit, I was really looking forward to school today.  I couldn’t wait to work with my students again!

I teach six choir classes every day😉  My 7th grade Men’s Choir is an awesome group of young men!  They come enthused every day for class.  They jump right in whatever we are doing, whether it’s our starter, sight singing, rhythm practice, physical and vocal warm-ups, or working on our pieces for our final concert of the year.  They are simply wonderful!  If I have come in a little down, worried or in pain, they help me start the day with joy.

Today, I was excited to see them.  They were energetic as usual and worked right through all everything beautifully.  I love to see how quickly they learn and master a song!  I love that they look or try to look into the music to see how it fits their lives.  I love how they emulate the music they are preparing.  Of course, it helps that they love the pieces they are working on and they know how we are going to set up the concert with lights, choreography, slide show, etc. and that a lot of their thoughts and ideas are going to go into the preparation.

Each class I go to…2 Women’s Choirs, Concert Choir, Chamber Choir and Cantata Choir, reacts very much the same way every day.  Crescendo Choir (my after school Jazz/Show Choir) is always enthused and it sometimes amazes me that they come diligently EVERY Wednesday to practice.  It is a simple joy to teach them all.

Today, in Concert Choir, we had some hard decisions to make.  We hold two concerts each time because we don’t have a traditional auditorium. We have what’s called a KIVA (basically the set up of an outdoor theater inside) We had eight songs (wow, I know, crazy) that we were preparing for the concert.  I showed them how many pieces were supposed to be in the concert they would share with Chamber, Cantata and Crescendo Choirs.  When they saw and heard how many pieces there were, they realized that they needed to give up a few.  We quickly discussed the realities of all of the pieces and then they voted.  I think they did a great job figuring out which ones should stay in the concert.  We cut three pieces.  I was so proud of them.  Crescendo and Chamber will also probably have to give up one piece but they know it, so it won’t come as a surprise.

One of my favorite things to happen today, occurred during Concert Choir today.  In addition to figuring out the changes in music, we had time to begin auditions for the solos in one of the pieces.  I was so pleased to hear the growth the students have had over this year!  As most of them are 9th graders so will be leaving me at the end of the year to go to Bingham High, I didn’t do the mid year vocal checks I did with all of my other groups.  I was impressed by how much their voices had grown.  There was one girl who auditions for everything!  Last year, she tried out for everything but never got a solo.  Today, she rocked it.  I still haven’t decided who will get the solo as there were a couple of other girls that did just as well, but I can say that I was immensely proud of her and her accomplishments.  We ran out of time as class is only 50 minutes to give all of the feedback I wanted to give, but I was grateful that she stopped in my room at the end of the day as she always does so I could I tell her how impressed I was.  Her smile made my day even brighter.

My favorite thing about teaching choir (and just about any subject) is the connections I make with my students and the growth that I get to see.  I know I see long before they realize it.  That’s why I try to give them feedback that is specific and constructive as quickly as I can.