How To Start An Elementary Chorus
Have you wanted to start a singing group at your school, but don’t know where to start? Maybe you’ve taken some of the first steps, feel overwhelmed, and don’t know where to go from there.
If you can relate then this quick guide may help you finally assemble the chorus you’ve always dreamed of. The following is a collection of my experience and tips to start an elementary chorus.
1. Create an Interest Sign-up Sheet
The first thing to do is to give students an opportunity to sign up if they are interested in participating in chorus, so you can have a list of potential singers. Keep in mind that the number of students that will actually be in your group long-term may be MUCH smaller that the interest sheet. Depending on your students’ ability to get to rehearsals, your actual chorus may be half of the interest sheet or less.
Interest sheet questions:
What grades will be eligible to join chorus? (I personally chose 4th and 5th grade)
How will you let students sign up? (I send a sign-up sheet to each 4th and 5th grade teacher for students to sign up with a deadline to return it)
How will you notify parents that their students have signed up? (After collecting the names of students I sent a letter home, letting parents know that their students have signed the interest form and give audition information)
2. Draw Up Chorus Contracts
Next, determine what the standards and logistics for you group will be, and create a contract for parents and students to sign agreeing to these standards. If the standards of conduct are not met, then you have leverage to do what you need to do to ensure your chorus’ success.
Chorus Contract Questions:
Will there be concert uniforms? (Chorus shirts are an option, however personally I have my students wear a white dress shirt or polo, black pants/skirt, and black shoes)
Will there be a chorus fee? (If there is a chorus fee find out the steps from your school book keeper to stay in compliance with how your district handles finances [This can be a touchy subject] Personally I currently do not have a fee for my students. I suggest around $25 dollars for a chorus fee, and possibly a 50% discount for siblings.)
How will you handle Discipline? (Personally, I include a clause that states that students that are habitually disruptive will be dismissed from the group)
3. Determine Rehearsal Dates and Times
One big question for scheduling rehearsals is: Will you rehearse before school or after school?
Before school Pros:
You don’t have to worry about parent pick up because your students go straight to breakfast or class after
Students that can get to early auditions will likely be able to make it to rehearsals
Students are fresh mentally
Before School Cons:
Many students may not be able to get to school early if they ride a bus and don’t have other transportation
Students may be late
It may take longer for students to warm up and wake up
After School Pros:
Students are already at school, so more students will likely be able to participate
Students will be more able to be on time
Students who are in after school programs can go straight there afterwards
After School Cons:
You have to wait for every student to be picked up and parents may be late… Very, very late.
Students may be unfocused after a long day of school
Some students may not be able to participate because they have to catch a bus and have no other transportation
Other Rehearsal Questions:
What days will rehearsals be held? (I picked Tuesday and Thursday. Monday’s and Friday’s are often holidays.)
What time and how long will your rehearsals be? (My rehearsals begin at 7:15am and go until 8am. I planned my rehearsals 15 minutes earlier that previous years to account for the possibility of students trickling in late)
4. Hold Auditions
You can choose to either hold auditions or accept any student that signs up.
Pros of Auditions:
You can be selective of your chorus members, both with ability and behavior
You will likely have a more skilled group and less behavioral headaches
Cons of Auditions:
They take time and effort