I have so enjoyed seeing recent photos and Facebook posts from my music educator friends who are kicking off their school year this week. Many of them organize and run show choir camps in the week before school starts, and this week is essential for laying the groundwork for a fantastic school year. During my last two years of high school, I was in the top mixed group at my high school (Carmel High School in Indiana), and we participated in “Ambassador Boot Camp” the week before classes began. It was a week full of hard work, new friendships, and a lot of memories. Though it was a lot of fun, I now realize how important that week was for our teachers as they worked to set our group on the path to success. So this week, I’m sharing 4 WAYS you can make the most out of your show choir camp to help kick off a great school year!
Just like a sports team, a choir is a group of people dedicated to a common goal. Teamwork is essential for any successful group. And I’m not just talking about success measured in trophies! For a group to perform well together, they need to understand what it means to work together beyond the walls of the stage. My high school directors showed us from day one that we could not accomplish any of our goals as a group without supporting one another, both in our successes and failures. If someone in the group was going through a rough time in his/her life, we lifted that person up. If someone was working toward something, we cheered them on. If someone was celebrating something special, we were ready with (figurative) confetti to throw. When a choir works together as a team, things like solo auditions and outstanding performer awards create less of a rift in the group.
Give your students RESPONSIBILITY
Every student has more to offer a group than his/her voice and musical talents. If students are given the chance to contribute to the group as student leaders, helpers, or other non-musical roles, they become more invested in the group as a whole. (This may sound like it’s from research… but it’s purely from my own observation as a previous show choir member.) Whether it’s taking attendance, making sure the rehearsal room is set up, putting music binders together, or organizing group events, duties beyond simply showing up and singing and dancing offer opportunities for students to become more invested in the process of putting performances together. TEACHER BONUS: Giving your students extra responsibilities takes some of the work off of your shoulders. Yes, please!
There are several ways to set expectations for a group: have a list of rehearsal rules hanging in your classroom, have a sit-down chat with your group, establish rules gradually as you see fit… the list goes on. Regardless of your teaching style, setting expectations for rehearsal behavior, rehearsal attire, music preparedness, and group dynamics is important. As a student, I always appreciated knowing where the bar was set and how I was expected to behave in all choir-related situations. Punctuality was a huge deal in our group, and I will never forget one of my high school teachers talking about being on time.
“To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is to be dead.”
Let’s be honest… choir is a BLAST! It takes hard work, dedication, and a lot of preparation, but at the end of the day, you are making music with other people who love music. There’s not a lot in life that’s better than that. Students are more willing to give of themselves if they enjoy what they’re doing. So yes, establish teamwork, give your students responsibility, and set expectations but also remember to have fun. You are dedicating your life to keeping music in children’s lives, and that is a beautiful thing. So remember to have fun and maybe toss around some non-figurative confetti!