Did you have choral resolutions this past year? How did you do?
As 2017 comes to a close, you can re-read my resolutions and then see how I did.
This article is 1 year old. I’m reposting it because I’m holding myself accountable for what I put in writing prior to the 2017 year.
Resolutions and Re-directions for the New Year (2017)
Most of us have just finished our concert season and are starting over in so many ways. In preparing for this new year, we have the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate ourselves as the captain of our choral ship.
So many of us make New Year’s Resolutions in our personal lives, but do we set them as choral directors? Why not make some resolutions, or re-directions, and put them out there for the choral world to see? If we make them public, we are more likely to hold ourselves accountable.
I’ve publishing my own 11 Choral Director resolutions (or re-directions) for several reasons: 1) to create a public record that stares me in the face every day, 2) to give my students the best possible educational experience I’m capable of giving them, 3) to inspire you to do the same for yourself and for your choir.
Here are the 11 New Year’s “Re-directions” that I intend to initiate in order make me a better choral director for this coming year:
1. I will “re-reinforce” the guidelines that I created to start off the school year
My guidelines were always there but they have taken a backseat to my last ditch effort for a successful concert season. Now that we will be back to rehearsing with sheet music, making markings, sight-reading, etc., I need to politely and consistently remind my students what the best behavioral and rehearsal choices are for the success of our ensemble.
2. I will “re-reinforce” all rehearsal routines
The routines that were set up at the beginning of the year to make class run smoothly have been mostly effective; there are, however, a few that have seemed to have slipped away. Our routine for students who are unprepared, for example, needs to be re-explained and rehearsed. There are several routines that have been all but ignored on my part, and as a result, they have been inconsistent on the part of my choir members. I will focus on my “lost” routines.
3. I will create and/or modify any routines that have not been effective
Sometimes new situations arise. My officers and I have decided to implement a compliment box (thanks Ryan Guth!) as well as a musical mishaps box (thanks Tim Seelig!) These two boxes have been sitting out there with very little use or direction. My officers and I need to create a routine to make these great ideas useful. We need to create a form, cover the box and have a slit at the top, and have a day and time that I read and/or distribute the forms. Students need to see how that these two boxes are useful to them.
4. I will welcome all students with a clean behavioral slate
We all want to have a great year. The new year brings us all a chance for renewal. I will do my best to treat every student as if they are going to make positive contributions in my class. I hope they will do the same for me in return.
5. I will not rely solely on the section leaders to produce the sound for their section
I set high expectations for all of my students, but I still tend to stare right at my section leaders when I’m looking for vocal assurance, rather than equally viewing all students in a section. I need to spread the visual wealth in order to foster their shared vocal growth.
6. I will try to make each rehearsal different and special
It is so easy to fall into a monotonous trap. I’m going to switch up the seating, possibly remove the chairs for a rehearsal, sing in a circle, sing with our eyes closed, read as opposite sections, have students conduct, and have more group discussions. I’m going to make the rehearsal dynamic more diverse and interesting.
7. When I exit the piano bench to walk closer to my ensemble, I will exit right
I wish I were kidding on this one. For 19 years, I always sit at a large grand piano that faces the center of my choir. I frequently conduct away from the piano and/or engage different sections by getting close in proximity. I don’t think I have ever left my piano bench from the right side. This means, I always visit the sopranos and basses, before the altos and tenors.
8. I will be more positive during rehearsal
While I do smile a lot, I am very direct with what I say. I want to find more positive ways to say direct things. I will not let positivity impact my ability to communicate my thoughts; instead I will reflect upon phrases I commonly say, and practice using new phrases that are positive and have the same effect.
9. I will work even harder to bring up the weakest singers in the group
I will build their confidence by finding ways for them to feel successful. I will inspire them to believe in themselves by finding and recognizing their strengths as both musicians and as human beings.
10. I will find a way to compliment the choir every day, in different ways
And be genuine. We all have so many positive things we can find. It’s just so easy to dwell on what is wrong and let our negative sightings block all that is right. I need to re-direct my focus.
11. I will stop complaining
I will not complain about things that I believe to be wrong at my school, especially when eating my lunch in the teacher’s room. I will not complain about a section in the choir. I will not complain about being tired. If I want my choir to be energetic, upbeat, and excited, I shouldn’t feed them with my negativity. And furthermore, my negativity weighs me down as a teacher and as a person.
New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep; New Year’s “re-directions” are merely shifts in awareness. I know we all can do it!
Happy New Year!!