ChorTeach is ACDA’s quarterly publication for choral conductors and teachers at all levels. It is published online, and each issue contains four practical articles. If you are not already a member of ACDA, you can join as an Associate for $45 per year and receive access to ChorTeach and the Choral Journal online.
The Summer 2010 issue contains the article “Success and Youthful Choral Directors: Ten Suggestions” by Scott Buchanan. Following is the introduction and the first 4 suggestions.
As a mentor and teacher of teachers, I find it crucial to share the non-musical aspects of our profession with young colleagues. It is important they understand that very few music educators lose their teaching jobs over issues related to subject matter. Additionally, not many choral directors get burned out and quit because of the music. In my opinion, what happens, more often than not, is due to struggles with the various layers of professional relationships (students, parents, colleagues, administrators), or time management, or with an inability to get adequately organized to teach effectively in a public school setting.
I certainly don’t claim to know everything, but I’ve learned lots over the years. The following list is pared down from about
30 items collected as I first began thinking about this issue of what young choral directors face and what they could do to avoid pitfalls. Some ideas I combined with others; some I omit- ted, and some I forgot. All of us have a list of many things we wish we had learned in college but never did. So, for the young music educators out there, here are things to take to hear t.
- Stay Out of the Teachers’ Lounge
Coming out of college, you are young, energetic, and positive and want the best from your students. They will work hard for you because many, if not most, of them want to be in your choirs. Your choir room could quite possibly be the happiest place in the school! However, there is also the teachers’ lounge, the place where faculty and staff alike sometimes get together during planning periods and lunch to criticize students, their salaries, the facilities, the textbooks, and each other. To the best of your ability, avoid this den of dreariness.
- You Are Not Superman/Superwoman
When you accept a teaching position, you are signing on for (more or less, depending on the job) the following responsibilities: running a program, fund raising, presenting musicals, managing solo and ensemble festivals, taking trips, ordering music, paying for music, arranging before school rehearsals, after school rehearsals, singing for your School Board, lunch duty, monitoring hallways, and singing 16 times between December 8th and 20th for a variety of community organizations. You are faster than a speeding bullet…able to leap tall buildings in a single bound… Get it?
You simply can’t do everything! Learn to delegate. Utilize outstanding students in your choirs to help you with many of the routine duties that can sometimes make our daily lives a grind. Also, find helpful parents that are willing to volunteer for various tasks. Many are willing and maybe even have the time. They just simply need to be asked.
- Join Your Professional Organizations
This may seem silly, but the real importance is to understand the network of thousands of amazingly talented professionals from whom we all can learn. Members of ACDA, MENC, NAfME, and various state musical organizations are wonderful resources. Take advantage of them.
- Be Their Teacher, Not Their Friend
A huge issue for young teachers is finding a balance between being liked and being respected. They need not be mutually exclusive. There is the important issue of trust. How does that happen? Respect and trust are two qualities that are earned, not given.
As music teachers, we sometimes get to teach our students for four years while other teachers maybe have the students for only one semester. Strong, even profound, relationships can develop between teachers and students over a few years. The only way to earn respect and trust is to demonstrate it every day.
Read the rest of the article by clicking here and looking in the Summer 2010 for Scott Buchanan’s article. If you are not already an ACDA member, you can join as an Associate for only $45 per year and receive online access to all ACDA publications. Go here to learn more.