Entries in Kathy Bhat (3)


On Recruiting | by Kathy Bhat

Of course, the best recruiting tool any of us have is a quality program.  However, when you are just starting out, here are some thoughts:


High School

  • Get to know the students!  Lunch duty, whether official or unofficial can work to your advantage.
  • Offer to keep score at a football game or basketball game.  Don’t sign on for the whole season, but these are the kids in sports that really carry a lot of weight in a high school.  They are the ones you need to get to know and get involved.
  • Take a choir trip.  It doesn’t have to be a big trip at first.  Could be just a local tour – or to a festival such as Six Flags or Worlds of Fun.  This will not only act as a hook to get the kids in the program, but a “carrot” to keep them involved.
  • Invite choirs to your school.  Make sure you have heard the choir first!  A GOOD visiting choir can be a great recruiter.
  • Do a musical.  All kinds of kids come out for musicals.  You never know where a singer might be hiding.

Middle School

  • Get to know the students!  Lunch duty, whether official or unofficial can work to your advantage.
  • Be a FUN person.  Middle school kids want to enjoy what they are doing.  More often than not, they will join groups because of WHO is leading it, rather than what it is.  Fun doesn’t mean no-work, but having a good sense of humor and the ability to “play” with the kids. 
  • Take a choir trip.   A local tour, Six Flags, or Worlds of Fun.
  • Offer to “clinic” at the elementaries if they have choirs – or make sure to attend some of the musical performances they have.  It is impossible to make all of them, but in order to build the program it helps to be visible.


For both levels:

  • DO NOT make promises that cannot be kept.  Don’t tell kids it is an easy grade, or that they won’t have any homework.  Statements of that sort might bring kids in initially, but inevitably, your words will come back to haunt you, either by your own actions, or the ill will it will create with the rest of the faculty.
  • DO NOT accept misbehavior because you think the kids might leave the program.  Some might, but the kids who want to work will stay and will respect you more for your work ethic.  Even if they don’t say so.
  • DO NOT beg students to be in the choir.  Encourage….offer great rewards…be a fun person….Students that feel YOU need THEM more than THEY need YOU are not good for the ensemble (or you)!

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.




Preparing for District/All-State Choir Auditions | by Brian Reeves, Sherry Printz, & Kathy Bhat

Brian Reeves:  Be careful in how you choose music.  The piece you choose will help or hurt the student.  Choose a piece that shows off their strength, not one that highlights a weakness.  In most cases the level of difficulty doesn’t matter.  It is how they sing it.


Sherry Printz:  Students who were auditioning for all-district/all-state choir usually used a solo that they had prepared for district contest the year before.  Auditions occur so early in the fall that it was very helpful for them to already have something learned.  All they had to do was review and put on the polish.  This gave them more time to focus on the other elements of the audition process.  I would find an appropriate solo for those students who had not taken a solo to contest before school was out in the spring.  They had the summer to become familiar with the solo. 


A bit of advice from one who judges several all-district auditions:  I know it’s easy to assign all of your altos the same solo, etc.  HOWEVER, the judges get really tired of hearing the same song over and over and over.  Also, I have found that frequently the students all sound the same.  This is great if they are well prepared.  However, the ones who are not as prepared are really at a disadvantage.  Would you want to sit and listen to 6 students in a row sing “Caro Mio Ben”  - making the same mistakes?  They all breathe in exactly the same spot (right or wrong), same rhythms (right or wrong), etc.   This frequently happens in smaller schools where students do not have the opportunity to study privately.  (DON’T BE OFFENDED BY THIS STATEMENT – I TAUGHT IN SMALL SCHOOLS FOR 29 YEARS – I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND – I’VE BEEN THERE). 


Explain the audition process to the students.  Do mock auditions.  Practice key signatures.  Practice the sight reading examples.  BUY THE CD AND REHEARSE THEM WITH IT.  That’s what they are going to be using during the real thing.


Make sure you arrive at auditions early enough so that everyone has a chance to warm up, settle down, etc.


If a student is sick and has no voice, don’t let them audition.  It is not a learning experience – but rather a humiliating experience.


BE SURE YOU GET YOUR ENTRIES AND FEES IN ON TIME.  Don’t whine and complain and threaten legal actions if YOU screwed up and didn’t do the paper work.  Don’t try to blame it on anyone else.  Don’t allow your parents to verbally abuse the people in charge because you don’t take responsibility for not getting the paper work done.   The district directors have so much to organize.  They can’t wait on you.  Remember:  YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL (see chapter 2).


Kathy Bhat:  DO NOT choose the songs that you just sang in college.  Yes, you know them – but unless you have some amazing voices, those songs will be too advanced and not allow your students the success they could have.  Seek the advise of your music mentor in selecting some solo/small ensemble music.


START EARLY!   If you are planning on taking students to contest in March/April, then start before Christmas helping the students select and learn notes.  It doesn’t have to be intense – just let them get the notes together.  Set a goal for everything memorized a month prior to contest.


FIND AN ACCOMPANIST!  It might seem easier to accompany your own students, but your day will be much more relaxed if you can just be the DIRECTOR and not the director/accompanist.