Senioritis in our choir is our fault. We have created the ability for our students to act this way.
They didn’t join choir, thinking it was the golden ticket to get into college. Students chose to partake and continue in our elective because they wanted to. So why does their acceptance into college impact their attitude?
There is no reason why a student whose next journey is about to begin cannot be taught to maximize their current experience.
My previous blog post, Choir Senioritis? – 10 Ways To Minimize the Symptoms addressed the ways to minimize the damage. This article gets to the heart of the problem and offers the cure.
In any successful high school choral program, the seniors should be the most vested students in the program, not the ones that negatively impact our ensemble with their ego, laziness, and poor attitude.
If we want our seniors to become the role models and pillars of our program each and every year, we need to create their trajectory from the moment they enter the program; we should even think about the way in which they will continue as alumni.
The best way to eliminate senioritis begins with having a self-selected choral program; this concept tells every student when they enter our program that there is a place for them, and they will have the opportunity to improve, evolve, contribute, and give-back over the course of up to four years in our program.
These 10 things will eliminate SENIORITIS for good in our program:
1. Ensure every student feels welcomed and is encouraged to continue throughout our program
Every student, regardless of talent or dedication needs to feel included. By including everyone, our strongest singers right off the bat will learn the value of teamwork. Choir should not be “survival of the fittest”, where only the bold few continue each and every year.
2. Ensure every student sees a path for personal growth throughout our program
When all students, from their initial entrance into choir, see the potential for continuous growth in their skills, opportunities, and leadership, there becomes a universal potential to be vested. That opportunity will set the foundation over the course of high school that hard work, both musically and organizationally, is rewarded; as a result, those same students will be more likely to show appreciation as they conclude their final months in our program.
3. Ensure every student in the entire choir is thought of and treated as an individual
When every student is given the opportunity to create their own path, we now have the opportunity to recognize them for their uniqueness and their contribution within our program. Students will be recognized for both musical and non-musical contributions such as “best baker”, someone who decorates the room, “the most thoughtful”, the student who gives a group pep talk, a section leader, etc. Students who feels important are fa less likely to want to let down the group when the end is near.
4. Ensure every upperclassmen learns to support the path of the younger students
When all students grow through the program, they will want the younger students to experience that same joy. Upperclassmen will quickly learn to become role models and supporters of the students who will one day be filling their shoes. This will make the final months of choir a period of transition from current leaders (upper-classmen), to the leaders for the following year.
5. Ensure every student is recognized more for their improvement than their final product
We are all works in progress. When students learn that there is always another level to grow, they will not become complacent and egoic as they reach the end of our program; they will want to maximize their experience, and may even begin to figure out how they will continue their journey beyond our program.
6. Ensure our performances embrace tradition and involve our full ensemble
When concerts exhibit a sense of tradition, students in the program quickly learn to understand the value and impact on both the community and our alumni. As they propel through the program, many will start to envision themselves as alumni who come back. The traditions in a Spring concert help seniors to view their final semester as an honor, rather than a holding pen before college.
7. Ensure every officer is carefully chosen for being a role model
Officers must be role models who set the tone for an ensemble. If role models are respected by their peers for what they bring to the choir, they will continue to set the tone until the very last day of class. When leaders are chosen strictly by vote rather than a high-quality process, we end up with leaders who can end up bringing down the choir in the final months of school. Great leaders will give pep talks, keep the morale high, keep the ensemble organized, and lead by example every day.
8. Ensure every tradition is rooted in positivity
Choir tradition must be positive and unifying. Hazing activities and activities that divide (seniors picking on underclassmen, or having a certain area in the room only for seniors) are sure-fire ways to create snobbery that will end up perpetuating senioritis.
9. Ensure most seniors have roles that give back to the ensemble
Roles do not always need to be designated. The concept of giving back is what we should be instilling. When underclassmen feel as if the seniors are there to help them, the choir becomes cohesive. When seniors feel looked-up-to by the underclassmen as a result of their efforts, they will demonstrate positive behaviors, rather than negative, attention-seeking behaviors that are aimed at impressing those same students.
10. Ensure every senior is recognized for their unique contribution
When seniors graduate, they need to feel recognized for who they are. When all students in the choir see each senior being recognized, they start to think about their own legacy. This isn’t about giving out false awards; this is about recognizing each graduating member for who they truly are.