Choir is an academic class and should have academic expectations for our singers. The first quiz of the year has the ability to set up all students for success.


From the very start of the year, we must have clear expectations for our students. These expectations begin with effective student participation, reinforcing requirements, developing the foundation of musical competency. 


My first quiz of the year has the most important implication for student success. 


The first quiz of the year, every year, is the choir handbook quiz.

What is the choir handbook quiz?


The choir handbook quiz is an open-book, take-home quiz about the the information in the choir handbook. The most important information in the handbook is “quizzed” and then signed/acknowledged by both the student and parent. As a result, the choir handbook quiz becomes a contract.


What specific information is being quizzed?


Here is a general framework of what is on the 20+ question choir handbook quiz.


  1. Their binder number (every student has a permanent number in my class)
  2. The dates of the concerts
  3. The fact that the concert is a requirement
  4. The dates of the dress rehearsals 
  5. The fact that the dress rehearsals are a requirement 
  6. The guidelines of the classroom
  7. What happens when they don’t follow the guidelines
  8. Specific procedures  
  9. What it means to be prepared in class
  10. The grading policy



Choir Crash Course: The 1st Days of Choir (and beyond) Prep

The format of the choir handbook quiz

Questions are varied between true/false, multiple choice, and fill in the blank. The intent of these different styles is based on my goal for the specific knowledge.  


For example, I want them to write out the 5 guidelines of the class. I want them to write out the dates of the concert and dress rehearsal. 


I want them to answer multiple choice on what is expected for them to be prepared in class, because I want them to sift through incorrect answers.


Here’s an example of how I would write a multiple choice question about preparation:


What is expected for me to be fully prepared? Circle all that apply  

  1. my choir music
  2. a pencil
  3. my cell phone
  4. my charged chromebook
  5. anything due that day for choir
  6. a pen


One of my guidelines mentions that cell phones must remain out of sight during the rehearsal. This question requires students to acknowledge that cell phones are not part of the class preparation.

What are the goals of the Choir Handbook Quiz?


The goals are to:

  1. Make parents aware that a choir handbook exists with all important information
  2. Make parents aware of the most important information in the choir handbook
  3. Make students aware of the most important information in the choir handbook and to familiarize them with the process in finding this information
  4. To positively reinforce the classroom culture and expectations
  5. To ensure they (and their parents) are aware of the concert dates
  6. To give students an opportunity to earn a high grade.


What if they don’t score well on the quiz?


They can take the quiz again. Why not? I’ll give them a penalty because they didn’t know the information when they should have. The same penalty applies to choir handbook quizzes that are handed in late. But, in the end, I want them to know this information.

Can’t they cheat if they take the quiz home?


Yes. I don’t care where they get the correct information from. They have a greater chance of getting it wrong by asking a friend. The correct information is definitely provided in the handbook. In the end, they must know the most important information, show me they know it, and have their parents acknowledge this information.


More on giving quizzes in choir

This one quiz is an example of my philosophy for grading students:


I believe all students should have the opportunity to succeed. Grading should be based on effort and not talent. There is a way to have high expectations and still give every student an equal opportunity to be successful. This approach can work with sight-singing, vocal part assessments, lyric memorization, and so much more.


Stay tuned for my next blog post where I divulge the second quiz I give every year.