Entries in Brian Reeves (9)


Discipline Tips | by Ann Taylor & Brian Reeves


Ann Taylor


  • Sing “do” on any pitch (they will join in)
  • Have them echo clap
  • Sing scales using hand signals
  • Start singing a round – split into parts
  • Have a responsible student take roll
  • Plan breaks during the rehearsal
    • Do the “rain forest”
    • Sing “My Bonnie” sit or stand on all “b’s”
    • Echo clap, Echo sing
    • Break into groups and do rounds
    • Tongue Twisters
    • Buddy back rub
    • Exaggerate text by “Tasting every bit of the word”
    • Have them imitate body movements (non-verbally)
    • Examples:  Touch toes, roll shoulders, etc.




Brian Reeves


There are many, many ways to establish discipline.  You have to do what fits your personality.  It is easy to scoff at the old adage “Don’t smile until Christmas” but there is truth in that.  What you let go in September will be unbearable by April.  The kind of April you want needs to be set up in the fall.


Effective Rehearsal Plans and Facing | by Brian Reeves and Janice Ragland


Brian Reeves


The psychology of the rehearsal is different for different people.  I am inclined to think that the student is at their most focused at the beginning of the hour so that is when I rehearse the most challenging pieces.  As the hour progresses, I move towards the more accessible and try to end with the most accessible or something they are putting the finishing touches on.



Janice Ragland


            The word becomes even more important with block scheduling.  Pacing a rehearsal is the difference of kids saying “how much longer?” or “is it over already?”

            You do not have to rehearse the entire song every day.  Rehearse only one section.  Then move on.  Don’t always start with page one.  Keep the tempo of the rehearsal moving at a quick pace.  This is much harder for the director than the kids.  Never allow a section of students to sit without some activity for more than two minutes.  Involve the other sections as you rehearse the tenors.  Have them sing along.  Have them pulse the beat for the tenors.  Have them write in the vowels of their part of that same section.  Have them sing the part as a sight reading exercise (solfege/numbers).

            Work fast and furious, then give them a “down” time and play a recording of another choir or even of themselves.  Once they listen, they will change and adapt their sound.  Play a recording and let them guess the age and experience level of that choir.  A less than perfect recording can also be a good listening experience.  Teaching students to listen and evaluate a recording, transfers to listening and critiquing their own performances.

            Have hymnals or sight reading materials and do a little EVERY day.  Make the altos read the tenor line of one of their songs.  Figure out the solfege of a familiar song.  Close the piano and use a pitch pipe.  Doesn’t have to be a lot – just EVERY day.

            Intersperse teaching theory as a part of the rehearsal.  “Tenors, what was that interval you just sang at measure 54?”  “Everyone – sing a Major third up from your note at measure 44”

            Insist that students number every measure.  It facilitates the speed and accuracy of your rehearsal when you can give specific measure numbers.

            Keep the pace quick and up beat.  Doesn’t matter if it’s children or adults – plan your rehearsal and keep in moving.  Start and end on time.

            Pacing in the weeks of preparation for the concert is crucial.  Make sure YOU have given enough time to all selections.  Keep a chart.  Notate which days you rehearsed each piece (total or sections).  Learn to “manage the clock.”   Don’t run out of time for a selection because you spent too much time on another piece.  Would you like performing feeling unprepared simply because the director didn’t spend sufficient time on that piece?

            Pacing at a dress rehearsal is vital.  Don’t run out of time because of starting late or mismanaging time.  Starting and ending on time is a part of being a professional and showing respect for your performers.  You may not be able to “fix” every problem encountered, but you must allow everyone time to prepare for the entire concert/show.


I repeat – keep the pacing quick/fast.  You can slow the tempo and offer a relaxed release by listening to a recording, discussing the historical style, etc.  But keep the rehearsal exciting and energetic.  As so often stated – talk less, rehearse more.


Replacing an Icon, Dealing with Tradition, Dealing with Parents, Booster Clubs | by Brian Reeves


Kids want you to be negative about the former teacher.  Don’t.  Say nothing but great things and your problems will decrease dramatically.  It will still be hard, but this will make it much easier.


Pick your battles.  Some traditions you can do away with immediately.  Others you might want to keep around for a few years.  Try to get a read on the people.



I am no master at dealing with parents, but I think the most important thing is to respond to them in a timely manner.  If they call you, you have to call back within a day or two.



Handpick an awesome leader.  Someone who will work with you.  A rogue booster club is NOT fun.


Traveling with Your Choir | by Kathy Bhat with Brian Reeves

  • Contact a choir director close to you who has taken students on a trip! (really important)
  • Start small and start with a place you are familiar with.  (local tour to schools or a home-stay in your hometown).
  • Make sure you have PARENTS to assist as chaperones, but DO NOT relinquish authority.  Ultimately, YOU are responsible for the welfare of the students.
  • Make sure you have parents who DO NOT SMOKE.  Or at least will not smoke in front of the students and will also help enforce/report any smoking infractions.  (This is from direct experience.  What a nightmare!).
  • If staying somewhere overnight, consider hiring a security company.  Or have a set of parents that their only job is to patrol.
  • Bring masking tape if staying overnight (to take the door – it cannot be reattached if the door is opened).
  • If going on a charter bus, take lots of trash bags and do regular “trash runs.”  I usually do one every 5-10 minutes.  The kids think I’m crazy, but I stay connected with them, and they know I’ll always be there – so there isn’t too much chance of something inappropriate going on.  Make sure to always hit the BACK of the bus!
  • Make parents AND students sign a conduct contract.  Have it okayed by your principal first!
  • Have your school nurse help prepare a medical form.  Don’t forget to have insurance and emergency contact info!



Brian Reeves:  Before you call a tour company, write me at breeves@pkwy.k12.mo.us.

I might be able to help.




Budget | by Brian Reeves

It is hard, but learn your school’s budget system and stick to it.  Get in good graces with your financial secretary.  He or she will save you more than a few times.  Learn who controls the money in your school district.