Entries in Tips (5)

Wednesday
Jul232014

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)!
Wednesday
Jul232014

60 Suggestions to Improve Classroom Discipline | by Beth Enloe Fritz

            The career of many a potentially fine teacher has floundered upon the goal of pupil discipline.  While good disciplinarians are not necessarily excellent teachers, excellent teachers are necessarily good disciplinarians in the enlightened sense of the word.

            Not only is good discipline imperative for the establishment and development of the successful teacher’s career, but it is also imperative to the success of the school.  Education cannot proceed without good discipline.  Youngsters encouraged to lawlessness by one weak teacher make the work of their other teachers just that more difficult.

            Good discipline may be described as a friendly yet businesslike rapport in which pupils and teachers work cooperatively toward mutually recognized and mutually accepted goals.  Distractions, frictions, and disturbances, which would interfere with the optimum functioning of the pupil, the class, and the school, are held to a minimum.

            The ultimate, unique achievement of good discipline is self-discipline on the part of the pupils.  Experience tells us that not all groups or all individuals are likely to become completely self-disciplined within the school years.  Yet that is the goal toward which we must strive.   Any philosophy of discipline that does not teach and instill the ideal of self-discipline within the group and the individual will eventually prove weak and ineffective.

 

BE ORDERLY

  1. The first requisite of discipline is order. 
  2. Maintain the correct physical environment. 
  3. Have a place for everything.
  4. Maintain a neat classroom.
  5. Establish a set procedure
  6. Use seating arrangements
  7. Leave the front desk in the middle row unassigned. Use it as a “hot seat”.
  8. After 2 warnings, break up “talky” combinations of students.

SET BEHAVIOR STANDARDS

     9. Set behavior standards immediately.

     10. Whatever your individual room standards may be, make sure they are reasonable, kept to a minimum, and well understood by the class.

     11. Insist on the general rule of only one voice talking at a time.

KEEP THEM BUSY AND MOTIVATED

     12. Get down to business with the bell.

     13. Prepare your plans beforehand.

     14. Be definite.

     15. Set class goals.

     16. Sell your subject matter.

     17. Motivate your classes and individual pupils by every technique at your command, and keep them motivated.

BE AN ADULT

     18. Much of the good morals and good discipline of the best classrooms is to be found in the inexplicable chemistry of personalities as they interact day by day.

     19. Be yourself.

     20. Act your age.

     21. Insist at all times on respect for grown-ups, for authority in general.

KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE

     22. Be positive

     23. Be kind but firm.

     24. Be consistent

     25. Be fair.

CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS

     26. Don’t be thin-skinned.

     27. Do your utmost not to dislike a child because of his actions.

     28. Don’t argue.

     29. No one is perfect.

     30. However timid, unsure, and ineffectual you may sometimes feel inside, try to project confidence.

     31. Don’t be afraid to show your sense of humor.

GROUP DISCIPLINE

     32. Don’t make an issue of everything.

     33. Don’t threaten.

     34. Don’t make deals and don’t compromise your standards to win popularity.

     35. Understand pupil’s fads and don’t belittle them.

     36. Reject undesirable pupil behavior but never the entire group.

     37. If unacceptable behavior is widespread in your group, concentrate on the ringleader.

     38. Don’t punish the whole group because of the misbehavior of one or a few individuals.

     39. Action is more effective than words.

     40. Never give additional homework as punishment.

     41. Try silence as a means of checking misbehavior.

DISCIPLINE THE INDIVIDUAL

     42. Recognize unacceptable behavior for what it is – a symptom.

     43. Try to get at the root cause of antisocial behavior.

     44. Be patient.

     45. Don’t put off contacting the parents.

     46. Identify yourself with the class as a whole when dealing with a specific individual.

CORRECTIVE MEASURES

     47. Make the punishment fit the individual.

     48. Refrain from using penalties that are personally and publicly humiliating to a pupil.

     49. Avoid punishing in the heat of anger.

     50. Solve your own discipline problems before they need to be sent to the office.

     51. Give a pupil additional responsibility for remedying among his fellow pupils the very offense for which he is remiss.

COOPERATION WITH PARENTS

     52. Visit the home in extreme cases.

     53. Communicate by letter or phone with the parents.

     54. Have the pupil write the letter to his parents informing them of his unsatisfactory behavior.

HANDLING ESPECIALLY DIFFICULT PUPILS

     55. Call a pupil on unacceptable conduct.

     56. If it recurs, move the pupil during class to the hot seat.

     57. If it continues to recur, move pupil to an isolated seat in the rear of the room.

     58. Get all information that is available about the student – counselors, former teachers, etc.

     59. Face to face conference with the parents and pupil.

     60. Referral to the administration if all else fails.

Wednesday
Jul232014

How to Keep Your Singing Voice Healthy

Unlike other musicians, singers carry their instrument with them twenty-four and seven.  In fact, they ARE their instruments.  We choral directors are the only voice professionals that most of our choristers will ever know.  How can we help them learn to respect and care for their voices so they can enjoy singing throughout the rest of their lives?  Here is what we should do and what we can tell our students to do.  If we can consistently practice MOST of the following routines, we should be able to enjoy enduring vocal health while setting a good example for our students.

 

MONITOR ALL PHONATION:  This includes ALL sound made by the vocal cords. In short, if we are not being paid to make noise with our voices we should be silent.  This is the number one challenge in maintaining vocal health for us and for our choristers.

a.     Vocalizing. While not all choral directors are vocal soloists, we should all be able to demonstrate proper vocal tone for our students.  We should vocalize early in the day before we start teaching.  This takes only about 5 to 10 minutes and should be done the same time every day to form a habit, perhaps while driving to work. There are three reasons for vocalization: 

                 i.) to warm up the vocal mechanism to keep from hurting the voice

                ii.) to build vocal technique to build the voice’s strength, agility and range,

                iii.) to improve ear training/sight singing. 

Each personal and choral warm-up should include at least one exercise in each category.  We should avoid singing or talking while our choristers are singing.  It strains our voices and keeps us from hearing them singing.

 

b.     Practicing Repertoire. We should always sing songs that fall easily into our range.  Belting is fine if a singer has learned how to properly support this style of singing but no one should carry a heavy registration (chest voice) too high. This is very damaging to the voice.  Songs should fit the technical ability of each singer. One hour per day is better than longer sessions once or twice per week.

 

c.     Speaking: As teachers and choral directors, we use our voices all day long and many of us develop chronic hoarseness and even vocal nodes.  We need to monitor our voice use and learn when to listen and when to use our voice carefully.  A portable microphone can help us conserve our voices during our rehearsals. We should avoid speaking over loud ambient noise (as in moving vehicles, bars, restaurants, and at parties or sports events.)  If we want to be social, we should smile a lot and nod.  If others want us to talk, we should flash a card reading: “I’m a singer and cannot speak above all this noise. Let’s talk later.”  SPEAK SOFTLY—SPEAK SPARINGINGLY.

 

d.     Miscellaneous vocalizations: Most of us, and most of our students laugh, and shout and carry on with far more volume than is necessary.  Let us not waste our vocal capitol on needless noise!

 

KEEP HYDRATED: we should drink between 6 to 8 cups of water per day when we are healthy.  If we are fighting a cold or allergies, we should drink more.  The old adage “pee pale” reminds singers of one way to monitor their fluid intake: if we drink enough water, our urine will be pale and nearly odorless. 

 

EAT SMART: we should select a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, and good proteins, and low in carbohydrates and fat, with hardly any sweets.  Most fast food is not healthy.  We should check out what you eat and not waste money on junk food.

 

COPE WITH GASTRIC REFLUX:  this is also known as heartburn or acid indigestion.  Often the stomach’s highly acidic digestive juices slosh up the esophagus and “scald” the posterior portion of the vocal chords.  This can lead to hoarseness and make singing a real challenge.  In mild cases the following remedies may help.

     a.  Avoid eating during the last two hours before retiring.  This gives the stomach time to finish its part of the digestive process before retiring.

     b.  Avoid eating fatty foods, especially late in the day.

      c.  Avoid highly acidic foods, to avoid heartburn.

      d.  Treat mild heartburn with over-the-counter antacid products.

      e.  Raise the head of the bed so that the gastric juices cannot flow “up hill” to the vocal cords.  Insert a cushion between the mattress and the inner spring.

 

REST from 8 to 10 hours in bed every night.  If we have trouble sleeping, we should turn off the TV, drink a cup of chamomile tea, and listen to calm music for a half hour before retiring while doing some stretching and deep breathings exercises.  Once in bed, we can do breathing exercises while counting mentally:  Inhale (4 counts); Exhale (4 counts.)  This helps the mind focus on breathing and counting instead of reviewing the day’s woes or obsessing over tomorrow’s tasks.

 

EXERCISE:  we need 30 to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise per day 4 to 6 days per week.  The easiest and cheapest way to achieve this is to walk rapidly.  We can park several blocks away from school and use the stairs instead of elevators.  Why not golf, swim, or play ball?  We should be careful to exhale slowly when lifting weights (instead of holding the breath) and inhale as we relax to avoid putting pressure on our vocal cords. 

 

AVOID CATCHING OR SPREADING INFECTIONS:  The following precautions are good preventative measures at all times.  Review them especially before bus trips:

  1. Wash hands
  2.  Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth
  3.  Avoid putting anything other than food in the mouth
  4.  Keep silverware on the plate or napkin
  5.   
  6.  Avoid un-safe sex:

 

COPE WITH A SORE THROAT:  There are several different kinds of sore throats and each requires a differing coping strategy.

  1.  Pharyngitis:
  2.  Laryngitis: 
  3.  Chronic hoarseness: 

       

FIGHT UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS:  The following products may help forestall or shorten a cold if taken early.  These are just suggestions to be approved (or not) by one’s own health care professional.

  1. Zinc-rich products:
  2. Vitamin C
  3. Expectorants

 

COPE WITH A FULL-BLOWN COLD

a.     Get plenty of rest.  Stay in bed all day if possible..

b.     Drink more water than usual.  Force the fluids to help flush the toxins out of the body.  Many people enjoy lemon tea sweetened with honey.

c.     Inhale steam by using a vaporizer in the sleeping room and by inhaling steam off the top of a hot beverage.

f.     Put a little Vicks or Mentholatum just under the nose and rub it on the chest before going to bed to inhale the eucalyptus vapors while sleeping.

 

AVOID HARMFUL SUBSTANCES:  While health warnings abound, students need to be warned repeatedly to abstain from the following:

  1. Smoking or chewing tobacco
  2. Taking any illegal drugs,
  3. Taking painkillers before singing

 

PROMOTE MENTAL HEALTH:  keeping a healthy mental outlook will make it easier to sing freely and in a healthy manner.

  1. Reduce stress
  2. Take time to “re-charge the battery”
  3. Treasure those two tiny bands that reside in the larynx
  4. We should sing songs we love

 

Now let us go, and sing, and let the music happen in and through our healthy bodies!

 

Wednesday
Jul232014

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.

 

 

Wednesday
Jul232014

Some Thoughts on District & State Music Festival | by Kent Summers  

Each year, there are numerous problems that develop regarding music festival entries.  In my eleven years of administering the district and state music festival, I have become involved in countless situations that could have been avoided had directors been knowledgeable of MSHSAA policies, procedures, and rules.  While these policies, procedures, and rules are sent to the school each year in the music manual, directors are not always as diligent as they should be to become informed.  The result is often an unfortunate and unpleasant situation that could have been avoided with better preparation on the part of the director(s).  The following is an appropriate procedure for directors to follow which should help to prevent problems.

Early in the school year, complete the required eligibility roster for all music students that will be participating in competitive/evaluation music events.  This must be done prior to the first competitive/evaluative music event of the school year.  List only those students that meet the eligibility requirements of MSHSAA and the school and any students who do not meet the requirements, are not eligible and cannot be listed.  This procedure must be repeated at the beginning of the second semester.  This will address student eligibility for all competitive/evaluative music events for the school year including the district and state music festival.

In early December, the “music manual mailing” should be received by the school.  This mailing is sent from MSHSAA to the school principal along with instructions to deliver the materials to the music faculty.  Contained in this mailing is the Music Manual (2 copies), the Music Entry Workbook, and a copy of the Prescribed Graded Music List (every 3 years) or an addendum to the list on the off years.  Upon receipt of the manual, take the time to read it completely.  If you have read the manual thoroughly previously, you should be able to go to the “Points of Emphasis” section and read it.  This will include the major revisions in the manual for the current year.  It is your responsibility to your students as their director to know, understand and follow the stated rules for the festival.

In order to avoid some of the most common problems, pay particular attention to the following areas:

  1. Entry deadline dates and late entry procedures.  One problem that occurs each year is late entries.  The manual is specific as to how and when late entries can be accepted.  Every year there are situations that arise where schools have submitted their entries but later want to add an entry that was omitted.  The manual clearly states that this is not allowed.  Thus, it is vital that directors check entries thoroughly before submitting them.
  2. Limitations on entries.  An individual student may perform in up to two small vocal ensembles and two small instrumental ensembles but cannot participate in two like ensembles (two girls sextets or two trumpet trios).  A student can also perform one vocal solo and multiple instrumental solos.  A student could perform a flute solo and a saxophone solo but could not do a flute solo and a piccolo solo or an alto saxophone solo and a tenor saxophone solo.
  3. Performance time limits.  Another area of which directors must be knowledgeable is the minimum performance time limit.  Solo and small ensemble performances should be at least 3 minutes in length.  If a performance is less than 3 minutes in length, an additional work should be chosen from the Graded List to bring performance to at least 3 minutes.  At the adjudicator’s discretion, performances less than 3 minutes may be lowered by one rating.
  4. Scores.  For small ensemble entries, the judge must be given a score of the work selected if one exists.  If a score is not published, contact the publisher and request permission to create one.  If the publisher will not give permission, supply the judge individual parts along with a copy of the letter that verifies the publisher would not approve making a score.
  5. Multimovement option.  The multimovement option allows a student to prepare all movements of a multimovement solo and not be required to perform from memory.  The problems usually occur with this provision when a student exercise this option and the work selected is not a multimovement work by the definition in the manual.  Any questions regarding whether a work is considered a multimovement work or not should be directed to MSHSAA.
  6. Accompaniment.  Accompaniment is required if one is written for the work selected but cannot be used if the work is to be unaccompanied.  Also, an individual serving as an accompanist may only accompany up to 15 performances per day at the festival.
  7. Supervision.  As the entries at the festival are school entries, it is required that students be accompanied and supervised at the festivals by a member of the faculty or administration of the school or school district.  If no faculty member is present, the school’s entries will be considered disqualifications.

While these areas are not all-inclusive of possible pitfalls, they should be of help to directors to prevent many possible problems.  It is imperative that directors be knowledgeable of the rules of the festival.  We owe it to our students to prevent problems and teach them that rules exist for good reasons and must be followed.