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Choir during lunch period

Greetings everyone! 
I have just accepted my first full-time teaching postion at a high school directing 3 in-school choirs (concert, chamber, treble) and an out-of-school madrigal choir. 
My concert choir will be meeting during the lunch period. My question has to do with management and classroom structure. Do you have a lunch-period choir? How do you schedule your rehearsal? Do you just run it 'as-is,' and when you work on a certain section, the non-singing sections take a few bites? Or do you give everyone 10m up front to chow down then go into the rehearsal? Any insight would be greatly appreciated!
Tyler Mills
on June 27, 2013 7:29pm
Hi Tyler - 
Congrats on your first full-time job!!! My suggestion regarding the lunch choir is this: if it's not a detriment to the students' well-being, hold off on eating lunch until the end of rehearsal. This could be easily achieved by outlining or posting your objectives (example: sing through measure 17 in piece A, review mm. 10-20 in piece B, etc...) for that session at the very start of rehearsal so that everyone knows what has to happen in order to get to the lunch break. However, in my experience, rehearsal sometimes takes on a life of it's own and the objectives are thrown I would say that regardless, the last 10-15 minutes of class should be lunch no matter what. I wouldn't have lunch at the start...students might try and stretch the time out, finish eating at different times, etc... Not to mention it's not advisable to eat a large meal and then jump into singing - stomach's are full, people get tired, burping, indigestion, etc...
Hope this helps! Good luck with everything!!! :-)
on June 28, 2013 2:45pm
I agree with Shannon that lunch should be last.
Is it simply one hour, and everyone stays in your room?
In many schools, that class period would actually be one hour and a half - 55 minutes for class, and 25 for lunch, 5 minutes to travel either way.  Hopefully this is what you will actually have.
However, if there is a possibility that the administration will assign which 30 minutes (A, B, or C) your students will eat, I would avoid this discussion, if possible, and make your own choice!  When my group was  assinged the first one, the straggling-back and other issues Shannon described were present.  (Not to mention that the average person may need a restroom visit 20 minutes after a meal.)
Middle "B" lunch was not good either.  Same issues as "A" lunch, with the added problem of splitting the mental focus, vocal warm-up, etc.
I like the idea of the choral/academic goals being first, and the lunch break a [albeit necessary] reward.  Sometimes I would purchase small treats and use them as incentives/thank-you gifts for good, focused work in rehearsal...not it doesn't become about the treats, and they don't come to expect it.  Random is sometimes good.  If they asked, "Will we get [chocolate/muffins/whatever] today?" , I answered, "Let's see if you inspire me!  :) "
In addition to the physical concerns that Shannon mentioned, often people cannot thoroughly rinse [please excuse the slightly-graphic reference ! ] the residual cling of food from their throats, so their technique is compromised; they will likely push their voices to vibrate despite the food impeding vocal movement.  And some are affected by acid reflux.. :/
The upside is that when it comes time to grow the group, you may be able to perform for others during lunch, and take sign-ups.  During late Spring, my lunch singers became good "recruiters".  Also, they can pass out flyers for upcoming performances, auditions, fund-raisers, etc.
Good question; Best Wishes with your new position!
on June 29, 2013 4:01am
I've just started with a lunchtime choir. Luckily the board are very supportive. We've extended the lunch break for that day by 20 minutes, by taking five minutes off each afternoon class and finishing ten minutes later. This involved rescheduling buses and staff meetings. The canteen ladies have also been supportive, moving canteen lunches until after rehearsal. I've got 5 minutes for the kids to dump their books and grab their music folders, ten minutes warm-ups, then 15 minutes rehearsing the items all the students are doing. Then boys/girls go on alternate weeks and I have another 15 minutes with one group. This is so we can spend more time learning parts (most of the kids don't read music well yet) and also reharsing a few items for girls/boys separately. The last group to get out has 15 minutes for lunch. It goes in a flash and I wish we had longer but it seems to be enough to make progress.
on June 29, 2013 9:39am
Good Saturday Tyler:
Congrats on your first position!
When I taught HS, I always had and preferred my top choir at the lunch hour. I think someone has already asked the question about the number of lunch perionds.  At my two HS, depending on the size of the school, there was always 3 or 4 lunch periods, which means that period was always longer. 
1.  I would always try to never have the choir sing, eat and come back to sing. 
2.  I would always prefer a last lunch period if possible.
3.  I would use the time on Tuesdays and Thursdays to run sectionals.  SA sing first while TB goes to lunch, then reverse, and full choir the last lunch.  That means I would have to eat in the room between sectionals.  I would always OK this with the principal.
4.  You get a lot done running your choir this way.  I never had the need for after school rehearsals. 
Good Luck as you plan.
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