4 Ways YOU can make the most of Music in Our Schools Month

Music in our schools is something to be celebrated every day, but March is a special month for music education in our country because it is officially Music in Our Schools Month! Or #MIOSM as you may be seeing on social media. As people involved in the world of music education, we have a special opportunity to show why music is such an important part of our lives. It is more than what we do; it is a part of who we are, and our love of music continues to grow and challenge us in new ways every day. We’re halfway through March, but there is still time to let the world know why music education is important in your life. So this week, we’re offering you 4 ways YOU can make the most of #MIOSM!

  1. Tell your story.

How has music affected your life? What made you decide to pursue a career in music education? What keeps you going when teaching music gets tough? Take some time to reflect on how and why you got to where you, and share it with your students. They may not always want to listen to corrections or sit up straight in their chairs, but if you can help them understand how their music education classes can impact their future, they may be more inclined to listen. Your story is important. Music in our schools is important. So tell your students how those ideas are connected!

  1. Donate to a music education foundation like Give-A-Note.

For those who want to keep music in our schools, donating to Give-A-Note is a great way to show your support. Give-A-Note uses donations to provide grants for schools who need money to keep music programs in their schools. Since its founding in 2011, this organization has donated more than 1.2 million dollars to support music education. Be a part of keeping music in schools that don’t have the money to do it themselves. Every child deserves access to music, and donating to Give-A-Note is a fantastic way to assure that this happens.

  1. Share what you’re doing on social media.

The best way to show others what music means to you is to SHARE it! Get your students involved in this. Let’s be honest… they probably are more connected to social media than most teachers. If you have a fundraiser, promote it on every social media site you can. If you have a concert coming up, share rehearsal clips, pictures from costume fittings, and other behind-the-scenes goodies. There are a lot of people who love music performances, but they don’t ever get to see what goes on before the curtain goes up. Share it with them! Let everyone be a part of the performance experience.

  1. Celebrate!

If you’ve dedicated your life to music and music education, there is obviously something about music that has stuck with you during your life. Celebrate it! Take time to notice the little ways that music brightens your day. Whether it’s seeing a light bulb go off for a struggling student or one of your favorite songs playing on your drive home, be grateful that you have an opportunity to be involved in something that changes lives.

Test scores have proved it. Students’ grades have reflected it. The world is a better place because of it. Music in our schools holds more importance than can possibly be expressed. How are you going to make the most of #MIOSM?

Goal Setting: Taking Advantage of THIS Semester

Spring classes are underway, competition rehearsals are in full-gear, and it’s time for a new semester of memories and academic adventures. It’s important to take full advantage of the time that you have this semester, but how can you make sure you’re accomplishing the things that you want to with your performance ensemble? Set goals. It sounds so simple, but setting specific and concrete goals is a great way to start the semester and ensure that you finish without letting opportunities pass by. We suggest making a list of short-term and long-term goals to give yourself “deadlines” and stay on track with what you hope to accomplish.

The first step is determining your end-of-semester goal so that you can list smaller steps that help move you toward that goal. In this step, it’s important to reflect on what you want to improve. Every group has differing strengths and weaknesses, both musical and non-musical. If no larger goal comes to mind immediately, take a few minutes and write down your group’s strengths and weaknesses to give you a clearer picture of what you want to work on. Maybe you want to encourage better teamwork in your group, or perhaps you want to use rehearsal time more efficiently. Maybe you have something musical you want to work on like vocal blend or sharper and cleaner choreography. Whatever that goal is, write it down and put it somewhere that you will see it every day so that you are reminded of the goal you are working towards.

Step two is to focus on the small, short-term goals and move forward from there. Here is a list of questions and suggestions for these short-term goal deadlines:

What can I accomplish TODAY?

  • I can plan my vocal warmups ahead of time to bring in elements of our competition set that need improvement.
  • I can start rehearsal exactly on time to take full advantage of the limited time I have with my students.
  • I can take five minutes of class-time to do a team-building activity.

What can I accomplish this WEEK?

  • I can perfect the hardest vocal section of our ballad. (Maybe try a sectional rehearsal!)
  • I can make sure my students have a packing list for an upcoming competition.
  • I can clean up the transitions between the numbers in our competition set.

What can I accomplish this MONTH?

  • I can make a game-plan for more efficient rehearsals with my student leaders (i.e. dance captains and officers if you have them).
  • I can delegate more responsibility to willing parent volunteers. (Ask yourself: what are some things that parent volunteers are able to do that would take stress out of my life?)
  • I can work on positive attitudes in my group by approaching challenges with positivity and encouragement.

Whatever your goals for the semester are, write them down and keep them somewhere that you will see them every day. Take advantage of the time you have with your performance group because this is the only semester you will work with this exact group of students. Keep up the great work, and best of luck to you this semester!

What do high school sports and performing arts have in common?

What do high school sports and performing arts have in common?

Cliques are a defining factor of many students’ high school experience. They vary from school to school, but there always seems to be a division between athletics and performing arts. Last week, one of our marketing managers sent us this article about Chicago Cubs rookie Kyle Schwarber and his involvement in high school show choir. After a little more research, I found information about several other professional athletes who were involved in high school performing arts: Danica Patrick, Joe Montana, and Walter Payton, just to name a few. While the physical skills involved in sports and performing arts differ greatly, the professional and social skills share more commonalities than one might think. Both sports and the arts offer opportunities to foster important life skills that carry students far beyond the walls of their high school. Here are four skills that students develop in both sports and performing arts:


Just like football players must work together to score a touchdown, choir members must work together to make a beautiful sound. Harmony doesn’t exist musically (or socially!) unless students work as a group. It’s natural for a football team to have a star player, but he can’t win a game on his own. In choir, there will be soloists and featured performers, but soloists don’t win competitions—choirs do. Understanding how to work on a team is an essential life skill that will carry young adults far beyond high school, and both athletics and performing arts offer plenty of opportunities to develop that particular skill.


Whether it’s a championship basketball game or a show choir competition, everyone likes to win. Winning does not happen without hard work and a lot of it. Both athletes and music students learn very quickly that success does not come easily, and they must put their best foot forward on the stage and the court to be at the top of their game. Sports and music are both competitive fields, and competition offers students motivation to work their absolute hardest, and this development of work ethic and drive will carry them into their college careers, professional endeavors, and personal lives.


As rewarding as winning is, losing also builds character and is an extremely important part of all stages of life. After all, isn’t winning that much more gratifying if you understand how it feels to be on the other side of it? When a basketball team loses a game, they still line up to shake hands or give high-fives to the winning team at the end of a game. When a show choir places lower than they would like to at a competition, that choir’s representatives must keep a positive face on stage during the awards ceremony. While losing can be difficult, it often contributes to a stronger drive following the loss, which plays a role in the future success of the team, the group, and the individual.


High school athletes train for months in their chosen sport to get in the best shape they can and hone the skills that will offer them the best chance at winning. They also work hard to stay healthy so that their bodies are able to perform at the highest level possible. Performing arts students practice their music and choreography for months before performances and competitions so they can perform to their best of their abilities and hopefully win the competition they’re at. These students must take vocal and physical health into consideration as they prepare for their shows. To perfect any skill, one must put forth a lot of time and effort, and high school athletics and performing arts are both great arenas in which to learn this.

The football field and the stage may sit far apart on a high school campus, but both places offer opportunities for students to develop skills that are important during their high school years and in the time after they graduate. Whether a student chooses a high school sport, auditions for the show choir, or has the wonderful chance to participate in both, that student is learning how to be a team player, developing a drive to succeed, understanding how to lose gracefully, and perfecting their chosen skill. When that happens, everybody wins.

#Nafville2015: Our Top 5 Moments

Beth Slusher, Rivar’s President/CEO, and Jessica Wanek, one of our account executives, represented Rivar’s last week at the 2015 NAfME Conference in Nashville, TN. They had a wonderful time attending the conference, interacting with other supporters of music education, and playing a role in the furthering of music education. Here are some of their favorite moments from the conference:

  1. CMA (Country Music Association) Foundation announced it was giving the Give A Note Foundation a $150,000 grant to fund research about music education programs.

Beth is the President of Give A Note Foundation, and she had a few opportunities to speak at the conference. She was thrilled to announce this major donation from the CMA Foundation: “With our partners at NAfME, Give a Note Foundation will use the CMA grant funds to accomplish great things for music education!  We will be doing research that will help grantors, planners and educators guide their ideas about the next generation of support for music education. “

  1. Monster Mash!

Conference attendees could purchase tickets for this event, the proceeds of which went to Give A Note. Jessica said it was fun to see everyone dressed up in costumes having a ball at the concert.

  1. Beth presented for Give A Note before the opening concert.beth give a note NAfME

With Beth as our President/CEO, we hear a lot about her involvement with Give A Note and how much passion she has for music education. Jessica had never seen Beth present with Give A Note, and she said it was a proud moment for her as a Rivar’s employee to see our company’s executive present with the foundation and represent a cause that is so important to her.

  1. Jessica finally got to meet a long-time customer face-to-face.

We love our customers, and we talk to them a lot, but we hardly ever get to speak with them face-to-face. One of Jessica’s customers, who she has been working with for several years, visited her at the Rivar’s booth. Jessica said it was so fun to finally meet this director and talk to her in person. We hope we can see more of our customers in person at future conferences!

  1. Being the face of Rivar’s was a lot of fun!

Jessica and Beth are two members of a large Rivar’s team, and Jessica said she loved the opportunity to represent Rivar’s at the NAfME conference. Our company is a major proponent of music education in schools, and we are grateful to have had the chance to show our support at this year’s conference. Jessica spent most of her time at the conference at the Rivar’s vendor booth, and she said it was a lot fun to mingle with other people who believe in and support the same causes and ideas that Rivar’s does.

#NafvilNAfME image 1le2015 was a blast, and we are so happy to have been at the conference this year. We hope all of the other attendees had a great time, and we hope to see you the next NAfME conference!

How can I use social media to promote my group?

How can I use social media to promote my group?

In an era of retweets and hashtags, learning how to promote your group and their performances with social media is key. We’ve come up with a few tips to help you use social media to your advantage and get your students involved in promoting their performances.

  • Ask your students to promote shows and performances on their chosen social media outlet.

While Facebook and Twitter are still extremely popular social media outlets, Instagram is proving to be the dominant form of social media for current middle and high school students. Rehearsal photos, behind-the-scenes shots, and action photos from performances are great things to show on Instagram (and Twitter and Facebook) because they allow people outside the group to see what’s going on in your performance group. Maybe think about starting an Instagram account or Facebook page for your group, and give a few students the opportunity to manage the pages. This will get students involved in advertising performances and give them the chance to share the hard work they put into every show.

  • Make a #hashtag to engage the community.

Hashtags are taking over social media! Use them to your advantage by creating one for your group and/or your shows and performances. Hashtags cover multiple social media platforms, so Twitter users, Facebook users, and Instagram users can all utilize the same hashtag to stay connected. When creating a hashtag for a group or performance, simplicity is important. We want to promote creativity in the arts, but make sure your hashtag is simple and short enough for people to use. For example, if your holiday concert is called Holiday Spectacular, considering using #holidayspec instead of the full show title. Twitter allows only 140 characters, and you don’t want the hashtag to take up half the tweet! Consider putting the hashtag in your concert program and on any advertisements you create. Include other hashtags related to your group or performance (i.e. #showchoir, #concertchoir, #orchestra, #band, #musiced) to connect with people who are involved in the same things.

  • Make everything shareable.

Are you selling tickets online? Create links that are Twitter and Instagram friendly. Are you advertising online? Make the ads easy to share and post on social media platforms. Sharing your group and performance should be easy for people at all levels of technology proficiency and on all social media platforms. While your students are primarily using Instagram, chances are that a lot of your audience members are Facebook users. Engage all ages by making things shareable.

Social media is quickly becoming (if it hasn’t already done so!) the primary avenue for advertising and social connections. Instead of allowing it to be the bane of your existence, have fun with it! Your students are using social media constantly, and using social media to help your group will give them a great opportunity to get involved in more than just the music. Can I get a #retweet?

instagram logotwitter logo       FB logo

How can I jazz up my costumes for holiday performances?

How can I jazz up my costumes for holiday performances?

Are you looking for some quick, easy, and affordable ways to jazz up your costumes for holiday concerts? We have several different options at Rivar’s that can help you do just that.

  • With sugar and spice, some RED might look nice!

The combination of a white dress shirt and black pants is a classic look that is great for any occasion. But for holiday concerts, adding in some seasonal colors can be a fun and easy way to “spice” up your men’s outfits. Our men’s dress shirts come in a variety of colors, and we recommend red or burgundy for your holiday concerts. These in-stock items are usually available to ship the day after you place your order, so they’re festive and quick!

Men’s dress shirts are available online!











  • Let it Snow Sparkle!

You can’t go wrong with a basic bowtie, but isn’t life (and performing) more fun with some sequins involved? Check out our in-stock Bem Bem Sequin bowties, which come in black, white, and red. Pair a red Bem Bem bowtie with a black or white shirt, or brighten up the stage with a red shirt paired with a black or white bowtie.

Purchase these in our online store!

3805mac-as (bowties)

  • Deck the halls with quick-ship dresses… Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!

Classic dresses call for classic fabrics and colors. We offer a selection of quick-ship concert dresses, which are available in a variety of colors and fabrics, including popular holiday colors like red, green, and blue. A quick-ship dress will ship from our warehouse approximately four weeks from the order date, which is faster than our 6-8 week production time for other manufactured dresses. Check out some of our popular styles in the pictures below.

1205CPL in purple stretch iridescent taffeta

(Left) 2064SEP in emerald/black iridescent taffeta sequins; (Center) 1202CAQ in black velvet and royal/black iridescent taffeta; (Right) 1215CEL in red/black iridescent taffeta
1205CEL in navy crepe back satin




The holidays should be a time of great music, fun performances, and holiday cheer. Let us help make your holiday concerts easier (and a little more colorful!) with our in-stock items and quick-ship dresses. Contact your account manager to place an order or take a look at our online store and place your order there. We wish you all the best in your holiday season. After all, who else besides performance groups gets to start their holiday season in October?

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


What type of shoes should my choir wear?

What type of shoes should my choir wear?

There are so many things to think about when putting together a performance. We’ve got your costumes covered, but what about those dancing feet? We’ve decided to expand on an earlier blog post about different shoe options you have when outfitting your performance group. Below you’ll find pros and cons of different styles we’ve looked into (and for some of us, worn!) so that you can pick out the best shoes for your group.

Bloch Splitflex Character Shoe (2 inch heel)

Bloch Splitflex feet

Bloch Splitflex








  • Allows for more foot flexibility and pointed toes
  • Softer material is less likely to cause blisters when the shoes are first worn
  • Stops can be added to the heel and ball of the foot to prevent a) wear and tear on the bottom of the shoes and b) slipping on stage


  • Recommended for women with strong ankles because the split sole doesn’t have as much support for the whole leg
  • Softer material on the sole of the shoe can be more prone to wear and tear depending on the texture of the stage floor
  • Can be more expensive than a typical character shoe

Capezio T-Strap Character Shoe (2 inch heel)

Capezio t-strap feet              Capezio t-strap







  • Fits snuggly on the foot to maximize stability in heels
  • Classic look that goes with any costume style
  • Great shoe for both strong dancers and students new to dance


  • Takes more time to get on and off (not the best shoe if you have shoe quick changes)
  • Can be slippery if the bottoms are not scuffed up

Capezio Manhattan Character Shoe (2.5 inch)

Capezio Manhattan feet   Capezio manhattan


  • Solid heel with more height for a leaner, longer line
  • Ankle strap allows for slipping on and off quickly
  • Classic character shoe look is versatile


  • Taller heel may take more time to get used to than a lower heel
  • Price runs higher than a lower-heeled character shoe

Bloch Character Shoe (1.5 inch)

Bloch 1.5 inch feet  Bloch 1.5 inch heel


  • Lower heel is appropriate for all ages
  • Lower heel is more stable for less-experienced dancers
  • Great for concert choirs, who may be standing in one place for longer periods of time


  • The larger (in terms of square inches) heel could be louder and more clunky on stage
  • Lower heel doesn’t elongate the leg line as much as a higher heel

*SPECIAL NOTE: All women’s character shoes listed above come in both tan and black.


Men’s Capezio Character Shoe

Men's character shoe (Capezio)


  • Structured similarly to a men’s dress shoe, so men adjust easily to the fit
  • More flexible than a typical dress shoe to allow for more dance movement


  • Not a con for this shoe specifically, but in general, there are very few options for men’s character shoes
  • Can be slick on a stage floor if not scuffed up on the bottom


If you’re interested in purchasing any of the above character shoes, check out your local dancewear stores or some of these websites:

We wish you the best of luck in finding the perfect fit for your performance group!

How do I take care of my costumes?

How do I take care of my costumes?

At Rivar’s, we strive to produce the highest quality garments on the market.  With that being said, there are certain procedures you can follow to prolong your garment’s life. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your costumes clean and looking fabulous.


  • Use only clear/non-whitening deodorant to avoid white stains on your garments. When you use clear deodorants, particularly gel or roll-on, make sure to let the deodorant dry before putting your arms against the costumes. Here are some recommendations from directors and former students:
Ban deodorant

Ban – Clear, roll-on

Degree deodorant

Degree – ultra clear

gillette deodorant

Gillette – Endurance, clear gel








  • When necessary, hand wash garments in cold water and hang to dry. If you hang dry stretchy materials, it’s a good idea to lay them flat or fold them over on a hanger so that they don’t expand while they dry.


  •  The washing machine is not your friend. Never machine wash or dry clean your garments.  Washing and drying them in a machine can break the garments down, strip them of their sequins and rhinestones, and fade their color. Our dress shirts and the garments entirely made with matte jersey or stretch velvet are the only exceptions to this rule. 
  • Avoid using hairspray while wearing the performance apparel, particularly the costumes with sequins and glitter.  We recommend wearing a “cover-up” to avoid the spray coming into direct contact with the fabric. Throw on your group’s spiritwear to show school pride and keep your costumes feeling fabulous instead of sticky!
  • Avoid direct exposure to heat and sunlight. Both of these can drastically fade the vibrancy of our fabrics. Your costumes will shine brighter in the spotlight than in the sunlight! To keep your costumes clean and safe during travel, consider garment bags with a good lining and solid zipper to prevent outside elements from getting on your costumes.

We want you to shine as bright as our costumes, so follow these rules and you’ll be sure to stand out. For all other questions about fabric care contact us at 1-800-775-4829 or at sales@rivars.com.