New Year’s Resolutions for Music Educators

Happy New Year! This time of the year is one of my favorites because life offers an empty slate. There’s unlimited room for hopes and possibilities, and we are all given a chance to start over and make a better life for ourselves. As music educators, heading into the new year means a very busy spring semester filled with show choir competitions, musical rehearsals, spring concerts, and preparing for the next school year. How can we approach spring semester with an open mind and clean slate while keeping up with the busyness of life? I was in choir during every year of school, and I majored in music in college, so I understand the desire for a fresh start while also needing to stay on track and continue pushing through very busy seasons. Here are a few things I tried to keep in mind when music education was the focus of my life.

 

  1. Working hard makes life more fun.

Thinking back to show choir competition season, I know there were days when I didn’t feel like giving 100% in a rehearsal. There were days I was so exhausted that I didn’t feel like being in rehearsal at all. But laziness was a bottomless pit of disappointment and further exhaustion, and our directors would not stand for it. I’m so thankful for that. The harder we worked, the more fun our rehearsals and performances were. We put energy and heart into our competition set, and when we worked our butts off in rehearsal, competition was way more fun because we weren’t stressed about lack of preparation. As a college music student, my recitals and big performances were usually in the spring, and I had to remind myself OFTEN that hard work now would allow me to enjoy my performances later.

 

  1. Practicing is the only way to improve.

Often times when we start a new year, we set a million goals for ourselves to be a better person. As a musician, our new year’s resolutions usually involve practicing more and devoting more time to growing as a musician. Speaking from personal experience… this resolution fell through the cracks pretty quickly. But I urge other musicians and music educators to remind themselves and their students of the fact that practicing is truly the only way to get better. We have to put in time, energy, and a whole lot of effort if we want to improve as individual musicians and as an ensemble.

 

  1. Ask for help when you need it.

Notice I didn’t say “if.” There will be times when you need help starting a rehearsal, getting the room cleaned up after rehearsal, sewing a few extra buttons onto suit jackets, and doing a million little things that make a performance ensemble successful. Ask for help. Your students are capable of far more than singing, dancing, or playing an instrument. If they are given the chance to help with other aspects of their success, they will have the opportunity to see what ACTUALLY goes into putting them at the top of their game. Parents want to help. Your student teacher wants to help. Your kids want to help. Ask them!

 

  1. Have FUN!

It seems obvious, but I know it can be hard to remember to have fun when you’re in the middle of a chaotic spring semester. Remember that you are changing kids’ lives by being a music educator, and if you allow yourself to have fun, they will enjoy making music even more. At the end of the day, if your kids learned a lot and enjoyed making music together, I would say you’ve done the most important parts of your job.

Why is the Super Bowl halftime show such a big deal?

Why is the Super Bowl halftime show such a big deal?

The office this morning was buzzing with talk of the Super Bowl, but considering the fact that we work in the music industry (for all intents and purposes), most of our conversations focused on the halftime show. We discussed things like Bruno Mars’ strange suit (he really needed a Rivar’s blazer), Chris Martin’s poor singing posture, and Beyonce’s ability to do no wrong (in our humble opinion). As we talked about our favorite and least favorite moments from last night’s show, it got me thinking: what makes the halftime show so special that it encourages many people to tune in for halftime and disregard the rest of the game? In this week’s blog, we’re going to highlight a few key points regarding the evolution of the Super Bowl halftime show and give you our top 3 reasons why we think the halftime show has become one of the biggest live entertainment shows of the year.

HISTORY

1960s through 1980s: The NFL keeps it classic with marching bands and some very family-friendly pop culture influence.

Show choir fans might like:

  • (1984) Disney’s Salute to the Silver Screen: girls with big hair dance in red sequined costumes, Goofy tap dances, and Mickey comes out to lead an encore of “When You Wish Upon a Star.” What more do you need?
  • (1988) The Radio City Rockettes tap their way across the field, accompanied by 88 pianos. It gets a little funky with a strange song about twisting and shouting (but it’s not “Twist and Shout”…), but the class and elegance of the Rockettes will win over every show choir kid’s heart.

1990s – mid-2000s: The halftime show begins to draw more viewers than the game itself.

  • (1993) Michael Jackson performs at the Super Bowl, making him the first major pop artist to perform at the halftime show. His performance completely altered the future of the Super Bowl halftime show.
  • (Late 1990s – 2005) The Super Bowl captivated older audiences in this era with artists such as The Who, The Rolling Stones, Prince, and U2. There were a few shows thrown in there with people like Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, and Justin Timberlake, but the older rockers dominated this era.

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2011-2016: Pop stars are the name of the game.

  • (2011) Black-Eyed Peas
  • (2012) Madonna with Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., LMFAO, CeeLo Green
  • (2013) Beyonce and Destiny’s Child
  • (2014) Bruno Mars
  • (2015) Katy Perry
  • (2016) Coldplay, Bruno Mars, Beyonce
  • Need we say more?

OUR TOP 3: Reasons (we think!) the Super Bowl halftime show has become the entertainment event of the year.

  1. Big names mean big numbers.

Michael Jackson wasn’t exactly a small name in the early 90s, so it’s no wonder that the 1993 halftime show drew so many viewers. After attracting a massive TV audience, the networks and the NFL caught on and continued to move forward with a trend of inviting major names to perform at the Super Bowl. Since then, every artist who performed at the game was a chart-topper, and the halftime show continues to draw more viewers than the rest of the game.

  1. People love spectacle.

From the Ziegfeld Follies to the Super Bowl halftime show, there has been no shortage of “spectacle” in American history. What can we say? We love our sparkle and spectacle. We are in the show choir business after all. But truly, people LOVE spectacle. There’s something magically captivating about fireworks, moving stages, and flashing lights, and the spectacle continues to grow with each halftime show. If the 2016 halftime show was as spectacular as it was, we’re excited to see what will happen at future Super Bowl games.

  1. No team affiliation allows for a moment of unity.

While the pop stars are fantastic and the stages are incredible, we think it’s the non-competitive aspect of the halftime show that draws so many people. The Super Bowl can bring out the worst in team rivalries and create tension among fans, but the halftime show erases all tension and rivalry for at least fifteen minutes and allows everyone to come together and enjoy a great show. The only two aspects of the Super Bowl that have this ability are both music-related: the National Anthem and the halftime show. Music brings people together in the best way possible, and the Super Bowl halftime show is the perfect example of this beautiful gift that music offers.

We all loved watching the halftime show last night and are grateful that music, in some capacity, is a part of one of the largest sporting events every year. What are your favorite Super Bowl halftime show moments from your lifetime? We’d love to know!

Stressed about upcoming performances? Let us help!

This time of year is absolutely nuts for a lot of people. You’re handling upcoming performances, we’re trying to get garments made and shipped, and there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. We understand how stressful upcoming performances can be, and we’d like to offer a few suggestions for handling the stress during this crazy time of year.

1. Remember why you chose to become a music teacher in the first place.

When stress takes over in the classroom, try to remember why you chose this career. Why is music education important to you? How does music impact your life and the lives of the students you work with every day? It can be difficult to remember the joy that sparked your desire to choose this career path when performance garments aren’t fitting quite right, the tenors in your choir are struggling with their part, or students are struggling to remember choreography. Take a step back (no really, a step back in time) and remind yourself why you chose this path. Passion and joy led you here, so try to remember why they did.

 2. Drink plenty of water and get some sleep.

This sounds basic (because it is) but it’s so important. This time of year is incredibly demanding physically, mentally, and emotionally, and keeping yourself healthy will allow you to give 100% to your students and your groups’ performances. The show can’t go on without you, so make sure you’re the most hydrated and well-rested version of yourself you can be.

 3. Prioritize.

What is most important to you about your upcoming performance? Is it extra rhinestone buttons, the right character shoes, or a blended choral sound? Determine what is most important to you (it will be different for every director) and put that at the top of your to-do list during your time with your students. Sometimes, there is not enough time to finish every single thing you want to get done. But if you do the important things first, you may be surprised how many other little things you manage to get completed.

 4. Take a minute (or ten!) for yourself during the day.

Whether it’s enjoying your coffee in the morning or listening to your favorite song during a passing period, find some way to decompress during the day so that you can re-focus your energy. When times get stressful in the Rivar’s office, we find that taking a short break to grab a snack, drink some water, or walk around the office can be really helpful. We want to provide the best service we can to our customers, and we need to be focused and energized to do that, just as you do as you’re preparing for a performance.

5. Consider the impact you are having on students.

There’s something very special about working in the arts, particularly in education, because you are providing others with opportunities to grow and develop into wonderful musicians and even more wonderful people. You are having an irrevocable impact on the students you work with every day, something they (and you) may not realize until many years from now. Even though most of the students you work with on a daily basis will not pursue a career in music, the lessons they learn and skills they develop in their music classes will carry them through any career path they choose. Music is powerful, and you are a major part of that experience for young people.

Purdue take 2
University Choir
Purdue University
William Griffel, Director