Beginning a Children's Chorus at School: Classroom Teacher Communication
Make A Classroom Visit
It takes a great amount of communication to establish and maintain a great children's chorus. There are various steps in this communications process that are essential to achieving your goal.
The first step to building a children's chorus in your school is to send a memo to all classroom teachers and staff about your intentions on setting up a chorus. In the memo, you should include information about the chorus (grades, how many rehearsals, etc.) and about setting aside some class time to come in and speak to their students about chorus.
Scheduling can be difficult when it comes to getting enough rehearsal time to prepare for concerts without interrupting too much of the teachers’ instructional time and the students’ learning time. In addition, there may be school-wide events, classroom field trips, or testing that needs to be considered when scheduling. If possible, scheduling times for rehearsals should be discussed with both the principal and the teachers or faculty prior to scheduling a classroom visit. This will save you much hassle from having your memos “thrown out” by teachers who have had no prior knowledge of a “new” chorus. (Trust me...this can happen.)
Before this visit, the next step is to create some sign up sheets for each grade and classroom. This will not only serve as an aid for scheduling purposes, it will also give you a rough head count. During the visit, you will want to briefly tell the students what children's chorus is about and what is involved at rehearsals, concerts, etc. If they are interested, have them sign up!
At this time, you should give them a chorus letter and contract for their parents to read over with them and sign. (For more information, see the next article in this series).
After you gather your sign up sheets, go around to each of the students’ classroom teachers and show them the sign up sheet. Ask them for any names of students who may be behavior problems in the classroom. I tend to put “stars” next to these students’ names so I know who to watch out for if there are behavior problems in chorus as well. You should also ask the classroom teacher if there are any students on the list who are struggling academically, for they may need to miss some rehearsals for remedial sessions. I am a firm believer that academics should always come first, and because chorus is an option, I feel sometimes it is better they focus on their schoolwork if need be.
After you have completed this “recruitment” process if you will, you are officially on your way to forming a solid children's chorus ensemble. Congratulations!