Our seniors are done. They have no reason to try. They have already been accepted into college. Many of their “core” subject teachers have given up on them and end up putting on movies instead of attempting to teach them.
Those senior attitudes can infiltrate our multi-grade ensembles and send us down a path of frustration. Many of us are scrambling for what we can do to occupy the last few weeks, or even the last full month of school.
Here are 11 ways to Minimize the Symptoms of SENIORITIS in our Choir:
11. Continually recognize the effort of the senior class
They already have one foot out the high school door, but they are still singing in our room. Let them know their efforts are appreciated. “Catch” them when they are focused, thank them for being role models for the future seniors, and try to avoid confrontation when they appear to be disengaging.
10. Empower the seniors to step up vocally
Our seniors should be the pillars of our ensemble. Have senior-only vocal moments in class. Make them feel special when they demonstrate for the class as we let our juniors know they have big shoes to fill.
Choir Officer Application – train your students to become leaders BEFORE they become leaders
9. Make the final concert as late as possible
If this is within our control, we should pick a date as close to the end of the year as possible. If this isn’t possible…..
8. Add a meaningful performance opportunity as close to the end of the year as possible
My high school concert is 4 days from the end of the year while my instrumental colleague takes an opposite approach by placing his Spring Concert super early and has a performance festival scheduled just before the end of the year.
7. Create a unique annual performance opportunity for graduating seniors
Here is a link to our live performance.
6. Create special activities in-class that recognize the seniors
On the last day of class, my seniors sing “A Parting Blessing” for the choir. The seniors look forward to their last singing moment as the rest of the ensemble makes them feel special. This experience is one that our younger students look forward to singing each and every year, knowing their day will come. I have a graduating senior in charge of conducting it as well, and the seniors sing this at graduation, lead by that senior.
Brand New Round for Memorial Day – teach to your ensemble in under 20 minutes and impact your audience
5. Create an end of the year event for the entire choir
A “Choir Formal” or end of the year BBQ is a great way to have all students celebrate their experience together. At the event, honor each senior for what they’ve brought to the choir. By having the underclassmen there to honor the seniors, our graduates will feel special. This event should take place outside of the classroom, perhaps at a catering hall, a local park, or a decorated cafeteria. The seniors could be in charge of most of the event.
4. Focus the seniors on choir legacy and tradition
When seniors learn it is their role to prepare the juniors to fill their shoes and to make the choir even better the next year, they will learn to see beyond themselves. Many students will want to come back year after year to hear the legacy they are still part of, knowing they did something to foster it’s continuation. They will also love singing those traditional songs year after year.
3. Have Spring traditional repertoire
The Winter is not the only time for traditions with alumni. By having songs that seniors look forward to, perhaps a “final” song in the concert, that song can help to instill a deeper connection to the choral program. From the very moment we bring out that piece in rehearsal, perhaps in early March, the students will start thinking about the concert and the alumni. Our Spring Concert has 6 traditional songs that are sung every year, 3 that include alumni. For the list of our 6 pieces (with recording links), click here.
Alternative Concert Assignment – for singers who missed the concert
2. Instill the value of giving back
When seniors become role models to others due to how they help others, they tend to eliminate the need for showing others up. At a time when they can very easily not care about anything, knowing that they are making a difference to others can create value, and therefore give them a reason to want to be vested in our choral program.
Pre & Post Concert Self-Assessments – help your singers to understand what is really important for their concert
1. Take Choir out of the school day
Most students in choir see the experience as something “different” from their other classes; we need to tap into their mindset. Address this concept head-on. When senioritis creeps into the rehearsal, we need to say something along the lines of:
“Seniors, most of you have already been accepted into college, or know what you are doing next year. That is fantastic. For those of you in that position, you don’t have to worry about grades, or things in school that are unimportant to you. That is great news for our choir. You chose to sing for some reason deeper than an academic grade. Now you can focus your energy on the things that have true value to you.
Take the time every day to reflect on why you joined choir, what it means to you, and what you hope to get out of your final months in this program? What will your legacy be? How do you want next year’s ensemble to think of you? How special do you want your final rehearsals to be? It’s up to you to make this experience special and to not watch it slip away due to apathy and laziness.”
Find value in things that matter to them. Use positive reinforcement when they do step up.