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Directors Notes: January 2021

1. Thank you!

Ms. Vukovics and I want to thank you all for your generous gifts to us! It is our pleasure to work with your children throughout the year. We want each of them to know that we love making music with them and want each student to feel like they are growing both as a musician and a member of this choir program. In the new year, we will continue to do our best to make a safe environment where the students improve their skills and work together to make something bigger than themselves.

2. Area auditions are upon us! We have 6 students competing in this final round of All-State auditions in just a few days.

3. Choir Expectations for the spring:

Black screens have become a problem for all of our classes on Zoom.

Not only does this make teaching our subject difficult, we have noticed a steady decline

in participation as well.

1 Our class is visual. For us to help students, we MUST be able to see that they are doing the techniques, hand signs, etc. that we are teaching as well as to see facial expressions that inform us of understanding.

2 Too often, we have called on a student to check on engagement and gotten no response or only a few seconds of silence and then their screen is turned off with no verbal response.

3 To try to help curb this, we implemented more recording assignments via BLEND to give us the opportunity to give feedback on an individual basis. Many of these were done during class with the option to complete up until midnight that evening if individual students were having technical difficulties. Most students would not complete these assignments during class with no explanation. Some students never completed the assignments.

4 We have seen the lowest grades that I’ve ever given in my career.

Things we plan to implement and/or expect in the spring semester:

1 As stated above, students need to have their screens on during our class or must notify us of the reason they can’t via a private chat when they sign on.

2 We will continue to try to make an environment where students feel welcome, comfortable and confident. Students are not being forced to sing individually in front of their classmates via Zoom. Recording options will continue to be offered. We will continue to be available during work blocks and lunch for students who have questions or concerns or would like some individual instruction.

3 Our school district has finally completed the process to have a software program called Sight Reading Factory available to all choir students. We will be implementing this as part of our instruction. It is a great program for students to work on sight reading skills and a supplemental program we will continue to use even after we are all back in the classroom for face-to-face instruction.

4. Recruiting and retention:

Our focus this month outside of class will be on recruitment and retention. We certainly want to keep all of our current students throughout high school. We realize that this year has been challenging in many ways and the ‘normal’ choir experience has not really had a chance to happen. However, choir is an experience where students gain their optimum vocal growth and knowledge over several years with us. This is how we’ve maintained the level of excellence that we’ve come to expect. Therefore, we hope all of our students will continue with us next year.

Additionally, we intend to reach out to students who chose to bypass this year in choir due to COVID-19 concerns. We want all of these students to return to our program next year. We will give them all the same opportunities for placement in choirs as our currently enrolled students.

Finally, we have already been working with Murchison, our main feeder, to make the connections necessary to continue the musical growth that has already begun at that level. We are hoping to have most if not all of those students continue with us next year.

5. Solo & Ensemble Contest:

We should have confirmation and details of what this year’s Solo & Ensemble Contest will look like this coming week. We will send out information as soon as we have it.

6. Spring Calendar:

An up-to-date choir spring calendar is attached. At the moment, we are planning to do all of the activities listed. A lot of decisions will be made via TMEA, U.I.L. and our school district during the month of January. We will provide details as to what each activity will look like as well as any changes as soon as we are able.

7. Skate Night is postponed!

We hope to do this combined Anderson and Murchison choir activity a bit later in the spring.

8. Fair Share Fees:

Unfortunately, we still have families that have not paid their choir fair share fee. You can do this online at under the MORE tab. Please pay this by the end of January. I will send out individual emails at the beginning of January to those that this applies to.

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