ChorTeach is ACDA’s quarterly online publication, designed for those who work with singers of all levels but specifically K-12 and community choirs. A full annotated ChorTeach index is available online at acda.org/publications/chorteach. Over 160 articles are organized into seventeen categories. For more information, email or visit acda.org/chorteach. Following is an excerpt from an article in the Spring 2023 issue titled “Spinning My Wheels!: Lamentations, Reflections, and Reset Plans of a Bewildered Choir Director” by Nythia Martinez.
To close out each year, our school plans a fun field day event with options for both indoor and outdoor activities. After I complete my chaperoning duties for the potato sack races on the softball field and trivia in the gym, I always make my way to the karaoke session in the disco-lit recital hall to cheer on each brave performer…and to…SPY! “Who is singing?” Fertile ground for recruitment, right?
Last June, groups of experienced choir kids put multiple requests in the karaoke song queue. Two young baritones on the same bill thought it would be fun to enter the spotlight and sing the hook to a popular track. I didn’t recognize the students, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the performance, but once the chorus hit, I heard some solid pitch and harmony moments! My heart smiled, and then quickly sank, and I wondered, “Why don’t I already know them?” They took their cute bow, and as they left the stage, I chased them out of the hall, asking if they had ever considered registering for our school’s choral program. What happened next was both illuminating and sad. They shot me looks of dread, a solid “no way!” and exited the conversation with a swift escape down the stairs.
As I watched them run, I was immediately consumed with guilt about what I must be doing wrong to have allowed such a perception of choir to exist at our school. I felt this, knowing that changed graduation requirements in the Chicago Public Schools have had huge impacts on music enrollment numbers throughout the district over the last several years and that parts of this issue are bigger than me. So I’ve been spinning my wheels, trying to determine which enrollment issues are indeed systemic and which I could possibly solve with some really creative thinking.
I found myself on the verge of defeat, as I had spent the past few years trying my best to resurrect choir, planning new and exciting concerts, competing in multiple regional festivals, planning special collaborations, and sharing the groups’ work and accomplishments broadly with the student body, faculty, and families.
*Visit acda.org/chorteach for the full article. Choose the Spring 2023 issue.