This is the fourth post in a monthly series: https://choralnet.org/archives/661159
Wow! It’s mid-September. That happened so fast!
I hope your initial choir rehearsals are going well and that there is a lot of positive energy around the beginning of the season.
If you’ve been following along with this blog, then you have likely already begun planning for your Solutionary Work of the season:
Solutionary: pertaining to or characterized by solving problems in a strategic, systemic way that does the most good and least harm to people, animals, and the environment.
However, if you haven’t started planning yet, it’s not too late! Your first step should be to discuss the idea of having a solutionary themed project with your administration or board. What this means is that your choir members will choose a cause that they wish to work on solving, and through the power of music as well as some other means (spreading awareness, letter-writing, etc.) they will address it throughout the season/year. If you would prefer for this to be a shorter part of your program, you could also have just a portion of your season be devoted to this project.
Make sure, then, to communicate with parents or choir members about your plans. If you have an adult choir, this can just be done in rehearsal at this point. For school-age students, it’s important that the parents are receiving the information directly.
If you’re following a typical fall-spring schedule and you’re starting the project right away, you’ll now be gearing up to choose a cause. The choir members should be coming up with ideas that they have and can soon share those ideas with the rest of the group. In my chorus, I allow presentations that aren’t too long, because no one is likely going to vote for someone’s cause unless they understand its purpose. Once all the ideas are in, put it to a vote.
You have a cause! Yay! Bask in this moment.
Make sure, if you’re a school teacher, to email the parents once the cause is chosen. As the project is optional, some parents may wish their children to not participate depending on the cause. Best not to make assumptions even if the cause seems universal or benign.
As you continue on, keep your goal of being solutionary in mind. You want to make sure that as you’re working on a problem, you’re not perpetuating or contributing to other problems. For example: if you were to create an industry to support an economy, but it involved clearing a forest, this would not be solutionary. Make sure to do no harm and do the most good possible.
My preference for this project is to have it be dabbled in throughout the year, and then more concentrated as you get toward the fundraiser time. You can follow whatever pattern you’d like. I may be starting an organization whose whole focus is solutionary work, in which case of course our project work will be encompassing.
If you’re going with the slow-burn version of the curriculum, you’ll want to mostly be focusing on your normal choral work, but also introduce your first project-based assignment in October. I prefer to start with an assignment that focuses on what has already been done. I call it “Tell me something good!” This allows for research into the topic, and keeps us from working on goals that have already been accomplished. Most importantly, in my opinion, it shows choir members that they are not alone in caring about this topic and gives them hope for positive change. I take one rehearsal period to share the research from this assignment.
I hope that all of this is helpful, and don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or want to discuss how this is going for you and your choir!