Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Grand Payoff

Uniform Fittings all day long. I could not have done it without help from parent volunteers. Along with the seamstress, we had 1-4 parent volunteers per class period. It made the day go very fast.
Tomorrow is Fundraiser Kickoff. Let me stop right here and say, I have a love/hate relationship with fundraisers. Really. Everyone does. Love #1 - my fundraiser rep is pretty spectacular. Our 7 year relationship makes me feel so much better about what I can do in the classroom everyday. No one else dare darken my door unless they can match her awesomeness or provide a better cookie dough product. Love #2 - applying last year's fundraiser profits to this year's purchase of choir uniforms for the Men's Choir. We did this a few years ago for the girls - over 2 years time, we bought Concert Dresses for the 7th/8th grade girls choirs. This was a $6,000 investment using fundraiser profits from 2009-2011. For the 2012-2013, we are purchasing vests and pants for the guys, black skirts for the 6th grade girls, and extra/replacement dresses for the 7th/8th girls - all with the fundraiser profits of 2011-2012. This is a huge investment of $4,000-5,000. The boys are so proud that they now get to wear tuxedo pants and a really cool vest. Love #3 - fundraiser profits are at a point that kids can start applying 10% of their profits to their Schlitterbahn ticket. A great incentive. Especially when so many kids can get half off or free tickets this way.
Hate #1 - the community is oversaturated with fundraisers, so parents tend to resist the pressure. They buy a couple of items or none at all. Hate #2 - the fact that we have to fundraise in order to supplement our programs (and yet it does so much good). The good outweighs the bad (probably b/c I <3 my fundraiser rep). The point of fundraising is to give the profits right back to the kids in tangible ways and make the programs they are involved in better. So, we buy uniforms and sound system equipment. They look good and can be heard.  The sound system - we are still working to achieve greatness - the equipment is expensive. We'll get there.
Onto other technical topics (if you are not a musician, this may get confusing for you), just keep trudging)....today was the first afterschool rehearsal for Advanced Treble Choir. It was a 2 hr rehearsal, but time flew by very fast. During classtime (and uniform fittings), the girls worked in quadruplets - writing rhythm counts & solfege for a couple of pieces - to be ready for the rehearsal. At the beginning of the afterschool rehearsal, I vocalized the girls for a long time - getting those voices warmed up & ears turned on to listen. Then we dug into the music - they were hungry for it. We began The Ring, working 2 part music. First, we clarified any problems from our classtime lesson (difficult rhythms, questions on solfege). Second, we listened to a youtube recording while looking at the music. At that point - time to sing! Simple harmonies centered around the tonic triad - good ear work. They moved through 2 pages rather well - working rhythm, then pitches. Parts separately, then parts together. The girls liked what they heard - simple harmonic 3rds and 6ths always make the young female ear feel comfortable and successful. We revisited Au Joli Jeu on the Soprano 1 part - it's been about 3 weeks since we last looked at it seriously. The girls are surprised at how singable the melody is & it repeats 2-3x. There is still some work to be done in order for the melody to settle on their ears. Isolating a few measures & transitions within the form. I told them that they have to finish Soprano 1 this week. Next week - they will have a singing test on Soprano 1 and begin the Soprano 2 part. Thus begins the process of hearing vertical harmonies. Learning a new part while testing the previous forces the chords to stack up in their ears. Call me crazy, but it works.

In that rehearsal - I heard the greatness of tone coming through. It's magnificent.

At the end of the rehearsal, we did some team building. We attempted the Sitting Circle of Trust several times. Difficult & hilarious - even when we released our hands. We talked about our TMEA t-shirt - the design, the t-shirt color - as well as our "everybody" Choir t-shirt. Then, I opened the floor up for affirmations. "Who has affirmed or encouraged you thus far in our journey?" A few hands hesistantly went up to share things like "I've learned that ______ & I have a lot in common, like our love of Broadway musicals, and I don't feel quite so alone."

These girls are precious & they are workhorses. I have to be careful, they will get tired along the way. Ultimately, they have my heart.

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