Victoria Schuler is thrilled to have the opportunity to act as substitute in our choral program at Batavia High School. She attended Wheaton North High School and recently graduated from Elmhurst College with a Bachelor’s in Music Education. During her time at Elmhurst College, Victoria participated in multiple choirs including the Elmhurst College Concert Choir, Women’s Chorus, and Blue Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Besides the four weeks she is subbing here at Batavia High School, Victoria is a building substitute teacher as Wheaton Warrenville South High School.
I want to consider as much information as possible when determining next year's choirs. Since this decision will determine a student's placement for a whole year, I don't want to leave it up to one 5-minute audition. Hence the audition process is a bit more convoluted. It's more work for me now, but I think it leads to a fairer result.
Side note: Mixed Chorale and Women's Chorale classes will be equivalent. I am not going to rank one as the more advanced. I will try to split one of them to make an SSA choir and one to be a mixed choir, but neither should be considered to be the top one.
I will consider these factors when determining placements for 10-12 grade students:
Sight-reading Factory assignments
Is the student improving in their sight-reading? Are they challenging themselves to keep growing, or are they content to stay where they are? I will look both at the accuracy and difficulty levels of their last several SightReadingFactory assignments. If we are better at sight-reading, we can do more music, harder music, and dig deeper in exploring the music we sing.
Is the student demonstrating mastery of the songs they are currently performing? The Video Selfies we record in class will show this. Students will record a video of themselves singing a section of a song their choir has been working on. This is preferable to a traditional one at a time audition, since the student will be singing with the entire class, just as they always do. I will get a better idea of how they really sound than if I pull them aside one at a time. I will listen to these video selfies for Pitch & Rhythm Accuracy, Intonation, Tone Quality, and Expressiveness.
This is more subjective than the previous two elements, but just as important. Do I get the sense that this student wants to work hard, or is choir someplace where they would rather just blow of some steam and sing with friends more casually? While I always expect students to improve and I have high expectations for every choir, students have varying degrees of how much they want to push themselves. Some students who are excellent sight-readers and have fine Video Selfies will request Varsity simply because they prefer a more casual climate. Other students have shown through their behavior in rehearsal that they want to push harder and reach for more music and more challenging music.
While we try to accommodate every student, and while I feel strongly that every kid in the high school is welcome in choir (not just the good singers!), sometimes we are limited by scheduling factors. Sometimes a student needs a certain class at a certain block, but we don't have a choir that fits their abilities or temperment. I will do my best to find a fit that is fair, good for each kid, and good for the overall program. Remember, that this isn't just about whether any one student is improving. Eventually I need to make classes of sizes that fit the over scope of the program and that fit the other staffing needs of the building. For example, if I were to have 150 students in Chamber, that would be a lot of PE teachers needed on the opposite day!
It's important to me that the students understand what the challenges are, and have say in the audition process. We have talked about it in class a good deal, and students have many opportunities to give input. They may not be happy with the result of this process, but my hope is that students will at least think that they were treated fairly and with respect through the process. I have taken many pieces of student advice in order to come up with this process. I will also be happy to go over the audition with each student.
One area where I will not be transparent: I will never speak about how one student did except to that student or her/his parents. Just as I will not talk to you (student or parent) about why another student was placed into their choir, I will not talk to anyone else about why you were placed into your choir.
If you have questions or concerns about the process, I'm happy to hear your thoughts. Once the assignments are made, it's necessary to give a few days to let the news settle in, and then I'd be happy to sit down and go over your (or your child's) audition materials.
PS: I would love to have TA's next year. There is always plenty to do, and if I have experienced choir kids as TA's they can help with peer tutoring, running sectionals, or simple office work. If you have an empty slot in your schedule, please consider helping out!
Here is the list of Choir Placements for 2018-19.
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