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Choral Caffeine: Chili in My Chocolate

Recently a friend introduced me to chili infused chocolate.  It sounded less than appealing (okay, it sounded gross), but I tried it.  And although it killed me to admit it out loud, she was right . . . it was delicious; a tasty oxymoron in a foil wrapper.
Certain words just don’t go together, do they?  Like “civil war,” “easy payments,” or “fresh sour cream.”  Or, how about this: “Serenity for the Middle School Choir Director.”  Despite the seeming oxymoron, Kathy Lollar’s article (published in Texas Sings, Vol. 25, No.2) advocates just that.
I have found a measure of contentment in my own teaching by keeping “The Serenity Prayer” in mind. I always consider that my middle schoolers are really just children who reside in bigger bodies. I have learned to choose my battles carefully.
I have decided to avoid frustration by altering my expectations of student behavior and responding with a sense of humor.  I attempt to create a classroom atmosphere which includes mutual respect, a variety of activities, and lightheartedness.  My goal is to provide a setting where young musicians can flourish and where I can enjoy my time with students.
As the new season starts, resolve to maintain a little more calm in your life (not to mention a little more chili chocolate).
(To access the full article, simply click the highlighted title. For additional articles on a dazzling array of choral topics, visit  ChorTeach.)
on August 8, 2012 6:54am
I dabbled in middle school choir directing, but didn't find much serenity. I had a horrible student-teaching experience (with my "master teacher" AWOL much of the time) and after years of successful experiences at high schools and elementary schools, I accepted a split position (HS/MS), but lasted all of one semester before I called for a replacement! Those experiences greatly increased my respect and admiration for those who can successfully work at that level, including my brother, who has spent many years teaching instrumental music to that troubled age group!
Although I've not been exposed to chili chocolate, after performing at a festival in Incheon, Korea with the Kansas City and the Phoenix Chorales, some of our more adventurous singers bought some kimchi chocolate, and shared it with anyone brave enough to try. I'll confess that didn't include me, although I certainly enjoyed watching the reactions of those who sampled the rather "interesting" confection (I think there's a YouTube video somewhere). :-)