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Do's and don'ts of a first-year choral director
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Title: Do's and don'ts of a first-year choral director
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Dickey, Suzanne D. ( Dissertant )
Robinson, Russell ( Thesis advisor )
Kesling, Will ( Reviewer )
Publisher: College of Fine Arts, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009
Copyright Date: 2009
 Subjects
Subjects / Keywords: Music Education Thesis, M.M.
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- Music Education
Genre: non-fiction   ( margct )
 Notes
Abstract: The first year of teaching can be scary. Newly graduated students-turned-teachers might find themselves in an almost impossible situation when entering, for the first time, a classroom full of choral students. The situation can be made worse when that teacher does not have support or access to other choral directors. My study developed a handbook to give first-year choral directors the information needed for a successful first year of teaching. The handbook covers the length of the school year, month by month, discussing general expected procedures most choral directors should consider. Also discussed are first-year choral directors’ do’s and don’ts given to me by seasoned teachers from around the state of Florida.
Publication Status: Published
Thesis: MM in Music Education conferred December 2009.
Issuing Body: Supervisory committee: Russell L. Robinson, chair ; Will Kesling, member
Acquisition: Music Education terminal project
General Note: Includes bibliographical references ( page 31).
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains 32 p.
General Note: Includes vita.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: Permissions granted to the University of Florida Institutional Repository and University of Florida Digital Collections to allow use by the submitter. All rights reserved by the author.
System ID: IR00000044:00001

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THE DO'S AND DON'T OF A FIRST YEAR CHORAL DIRECTOR:
A RESEARCH-BASED HANDBOOK















By
SUZANNE D. DICKEY







SUPERVISORY COMMITTEE:

RUSSELL L. ROBINSON, CHAIR
WILL KESLING, MEMBER












A PROJECT IN LIEU OF THESIS PRESENTED TO THE COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF MUSIC

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2009

































Copyright 2009 Suzanne D. Dickey









ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


I would like to express my sincere appreciation to my committee, Dr. Russell Robinson

and Dr. Will Kesling for dedicating their time and effort in reviewing my research. I would like

to especially thank Dr. Russell Robinson for guiding me through this process and for his helping

me refine this study. I would also like acknowledge my summer's Masters of Music Education

classmates for their advice and support throughout the past two years. Finally, I would like to

thank my families, the Murphy's and Dickey's, for their patience, support and love during this

time. To my husband, Joshua Dickey, I could not have done any of this without you. You are my

rock and I love you!









TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

ABSTRACT .................................................................5

CHAPTER

1. INTRODUCTION ......................................................6

2. RELATED LITERATURE ...................... ...................... 7

3. PRO CED U RES ...................... ............................... 11

4. RESULTS......................... ................................... 14

5. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSTIONS ..................................... 19

APPENDIX: HANDBOOK ...................................................20

LIST OF REFERENCES....................................................... 31

BIOGRAPHIC SKETCH.......................................................32



























4









ABSTRACT

The first year of teaching can be scary. Newly graduated students-tumed-teachers might

find themselves in an almost impossible situation when entering, for the first time, a classroom

full of choral students. The situation can be made worse when that teacher does not have support

or access to other choral directors. My study developed a handbook to give first-year choral

directors the information needed for a successful first year of teaching. The handbook covers the

length of the school year, month by month, discussing general expected procedures most choral

directors should consider. Also discussed are first-year choral directors' do's and don't given to

me by seasoned teachers from around the state of Florida









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Graduating from a collegiate education program and stepping directly into a classroom

full of high-school chorus students can be extremely intimidating. One might well ask, "What

have I gotten myself into?" Indeed, while a music education degree provides ample instruction

on how and what to teach, the reality of being a teacher encompasses many challenges beyond

the scope of any college curriculum. Practice and experience will eventually master these

challenges, and many teachers have succeeded on their own. However, without the advice of

more experienced teachers as guidance, the first-year choral director will inevitably struggle.

The purpose of this study was to develop a handbook of the do's and do not's of a first

year choral director, based on practical advice from experienced teachers. Current literature

indicates that teachers of all levels of experience will have unique perspectives and advice to

offer. As such, this handbook is based on a nationwide survey of choral directors at all levels of

experience. The procedures of the survey are detailed and the resulting words of advice have

been compiled into a month-by-month guide for the first-year director. The wealth of knowledge

collected in this handbook represents many years of practical teaching experience, and is

intended to comfort the novice director with clear knowledge of what to expect in the first year.









CHAPTER 2
RELATED LITERATURE

A good conductor ought to be a good chauffeur; the qualities that make the one also make
the other. They are concentration, an incessant control of attention, and presence of mind:
the conductor only has to add a little sense of music. --Rachmaninov (Anderson, 2003, p.
80)

The conductor should have musicianship, intelligence, and a passion to communicate
through word and gesture, and an understanding of how people learn -- Flummerfelt
(Glenn, 1991, p. 109)

This literature review dealt with the concept of effective conducting as presented in

literature, focusing on the aspects of conductor effectiveness, rehearsal techniques and

interpretation of music. The literature also references various associations' websites and

handbooks on which this handbook is heavily based. Since the middle of the twentieth century,

there has been much research regarding what constitutes effective conducting. For first-year

choral conductors, this information can be invaluable; once internalized, it will become part of

their everyday routine.

When it comes to daily rehearsals, Hennings (2000) suggests that "creating a personal

space for each singer creates a sense of self worth" and as a result singers will sing "with

confidence and joy." She further states: "My philosophy towards rehearsal is additive. Know

your sound ideal, goal and stylistic aim and build towards it, gradually moving from the general

to the specific. Singers need to feel that they are successful and making progress" (Pg. 40).

Hennings constantly changes the physical arrangements and always ends the rehearsal on a

happy note. She claims that "creating individual responsibility is the key to the greatest musical

growth."

Robert Shaw (Blocker, 2004) also believes that singers have both individual and

collective responsibilities. These include commitment, attendance, punctuality and concentration

for the duration of the rehearsal time. "Great corporate sound depends on great corporate









responsibility. Some of us read faster than others. Some of us have more voice and more

beautiful voices than others. Each of us has gifts enough for the job at hand. All that could be

lacking are desire and industry" (p. 40). To have a successful rehearsal, interactions among the

sections of the chorus, the chorus as a whole and the conductor must all be in sync with each

other. However, as most conducting books state, it is the conductor who must take the lead as

motivator, disciplinarian, concentration, morale and growth of the choir. Shaw states that

rehearsals should have two major objectives: the first is to "save the human voice" and the

second is to "use devices which make it impossible not to hear, recognize and correct errors of

pitch, rhythm and text" (p. 51).

While conductors' method of beginning daily rehearsals may vary from opening with

familiar pieces to starting new works or difficult passages in familiar music, all will agree that

the beginning of the rehearsal is when the singers' energy is at its best. A challenge for beginning

conductors can often be that of time management. It is important to use every bit of rehearsal

time as wisely as possible. Instead of teaching individual lines of music to each section (where

one might find that time is lost and concentration of the group might wonder), one would better

benefit with teaching the choir to learn and read the music for themselves. If conductors wish to

maintain interest when rehearsing individual parts, then conductors must devise ways to include

the other parts, and so use the rehearsal time to the group's advantage. The following are

suggested rehearsal techniques put forward by conductors, aimed at learning material in the

shortest possible time and at the same time sustaining interest.

The conductor should have full knowledge of the score. The best procedures are those
that facilitate learning and achieve artistic singing in the shortest periods of time
Garretson, 2002, p. 206

While one part is being rehearsed, the other parts should be asked to study the part and
listen to it in relation to the other parts--Garretson, 2002, p. 207

Hum their part in the background--Garretson, 2002, p. 207

8










All voices may sing their parts in unison--Garretson, 2002, p. 207

Separate the elements often in rehearsal. Spend time on words only, rhythm only, melody
only, or chording only--Brewer, 1997, p. 17

If there are mistakes, look at the problem in isolation rather than singing a whole section
again. Trouble shoot, and if helpful, makes a game out of the problem--Brewer, 1997, p.
17

Always give a reason for repetition. Out with 'let's do it again.'--Ehret, 1984, p. 12

Memorize while learning. An efficient mentally alert rehearsal brings about
memorization from the very beginning--Ehret, 1984 p. 12

Sing whenever you feel the inclination to talk--Davison, 1971, p. 40

Although there are many different ways to conduct a rehearsal, the authors above found

advice worthwhile to choral directors of all experience levels. The last bit of literature on

rehearsal techniques is on humor in the classroom. Many conductors have a natural wit about

them, and that can be an important trait to unveil when the time is appropriate. Davidson is a true

advocate of humor in the classroom, and that is made very clear by the following statements:

Of all the factors, musical and personal, which serve to bring about a community of spirit
between conductor and chorus, none is more powerful than the exercise of spontaneous
humor--Davison, 1971, p. 9

A rehearsal should be enjoyable in the widest sense. The conductor or singer who does
not anticipate the fun, as well as the artistic profit, should stay at home--Davison, 1971, p.
9

In addition to surveying teachers for direct and practical advice, this handbook contains

advice from the Florida Vocal Association handbook, which highlights statewide expectations

for choral programs. The FVA handbook is what every choral director in the state of Florida

should go to first when in need of answers for district information. Within the pages of the

handbook are detailed calendars, rules and regulations for both solo and ensemble competitions

and Music Performance Assessments (MPA). All information in the FVA handbook is

invaluable to first-year choral directors and to all choral directors.

9









Both the Music Educators National Conference and The American Choral Directors

Associations websites served largely in this research. A variety of articles and forums that can be

easily referenced through the websites subpages allowing the researcher to obtain much of the

general knowledge from which this handbook was drawn.










CHAPTER 3
PROCEDURES

The literature discussed above is based on many years of experience and research. The

survey conducted in the research of this handbook, however, does not limit itself to interviewing

teachers with many years of teaching experience. In fact, the population used for the survey

deliberately included teachers with only a few years of experience. Christopher Kosmaceski

(2008) explains three different circles of people the novice educator should be in the center of:

"Circle one, teachers with 1-3 years of experience; Circle 2, teachers with 6-12 years of

experience; and Circle 3, teachers with 15 or more years of experience." Kosmaceski created a

Venn diagram explaining what each of those three groups can bring to the table and how they

can potentially influence the first-year teacher. He also details the frequency of meetings and

types of activities most beneficial for learning from them.




Figure 3-1. Circles of Mentorship: Surround Yourself with Excellence, Kosmaceski, 2008









call,
e of





YOU
Circle 1:
a Have 1-3 Year
of expedence.
Mee weekly %
Or bi-weekly. private
SHave a group of
3-5 parUclpentn or more
as many as you feel fy.
comfortable with, .









Kosmaceski is absolutely correct when he says that "Immersing ourselves within this

circle of musical teaching mentors enables all teachers to develop a direction and goal and allows

us the opportunity to pay back-and pay forward-these experiences to the next generation of

teachers" (Kosmaceski, 2008). This survey aims to do just that.

This study was qualitative, curricular and descriptive research because the researcher

surveyed choral directors on the basis of their experience, subject combinations taught, and

examples of solid practices in the classroom. The process of gathering data took place in late

September through November. An email was sent to presidents and district chairs of the Florida

Vocal Association and American Choral Directors Association asking for one piece of advice

from experienced directors. The question was: "if you were giving a do or don't as a piece of

advice to a first-year choral director, what would it be?" This method of data collection elicited

very little response, so the researcher went about the data collection a different way. She put out

a survey through www.surveymonkey.com titled "For Experienced Teachers" with the following

questions:

1. How many years have you been teaching?

1-3
4-6
7-12
12-20

2. What kind of music classes do you teach?
Choral only
Chorus and band
Chorus and orchestra
All performance groups for the school

3. Throughout your years of teaching, what is the one piece of advice given to you that
you have appreciated most?

4. What piece of advice would you give to a first-year choral director?
5. Since your first year of teaching, how much easier has the teaching process been for
you?
Much easier!









Somewhat easier
About the same
It's gotten harder

Through this new means of data collection, the researcher was able to receive enough responses

to make this study worthwhile.









CHAPTER 4
RESULTS
The survey describes above was sent out to a variety of teachers across the nation. When

results from the survey came back, 60.9% respondents had been teaching for 12 or more years,

17.4% had been teaching for 7-11 years, 13% had been teaching for 4-6 years, and 8.7% had

been teaching for 1-3 years.

Of those surveyed, 73.9% taught chorus only, 4.3% taught chorus and band, and 21.7%

taught chorus and orchestra. It is from these teaching combinations that the researcher found the

most correlation of advice given.

Those who taught chorus only focused on five main categories: perception of oneself,

fairness, classroom management, organizational skills, and literature.

Advice on perception included the following:


If you don't get it done today, don't worry! It will still be here when you get to work the
next day.
Perception is reality
It's all about the students!
Always keep your focus on what you are doing educating students. It's really not about
you as a teacher.
Learn from your mistakes, but don't let them torture you.
It's not about getting Superiors [at festivals] or having aesthetic moments, It's about
survival. Do the best you can do every day and keep swimming against the current. It will
get easier! Stick with it!

Advice that on fairness included the following:

Be consistent, fair, and firm. Rules, approval, ignore, then disapproval.
Find a wise mentor
Get faculty members or other teachers in the county to come in and observe, and provide
feedback. That is the only way you will be able to fix what you don't realize. Choose
EASY and simple songs, then build using baby steps.

Advice on classroom management included the following:

Be an iron hand in a velvet glove. Provide your students with a strict behavior structure:
do not be their friend, but do not go out of your way to be their enemy. Be a teacher: be
an adult.
You are your pupils' teacher, not friend. Mutual respect is key.









Classroom management (discipline) as well as time management are difficult concepts to
grasp as a beginning teacher. It's never too early to prepare a piece of music with your
choir, but be sure the music is attainable for them or it will only frustrate them and you.
Don't try to teach your middle-school or beginning high-school students literature you
sang in college. It doesn't work!
Deliver instructions often and with consistency. Repetition and consistency in
expectations are critical for students to absorb and practice the skills.

Advice focused on Organization included the following:

Be consistent and organized, in the physical layout of the classroom and also regarding
paperwork, planning, and the daily class plan!
Students don't often show it, but they care deeply about what you think of them. Take
great care of what you say: build their fragile egos and they will trust and follow your
kindness. Music is just the medium for building character, confidence and curiosity.
Be organized; discover and listen to as much literature as possible; watch experienced
clinicians/teachers work their magic in rehearsals; get involved in student activities
outside of the choral classroom: you are visible and you can recruit in not-so-obvious
places; be sure to "get away" from teaching and "get refreshed." It's easy to burn out.

Advice on Literature included the following:

Choose good literature that your chorus can do well. Don't try to make your choir fit a
mold. Find music that fits them.
Don't settle for less than the best. It may take a while, but your students will respond to
consistently taught vocal techniques.
Choose lots of music for each class, because some things don't work, but you cannot
know that until you listen to the students.
Read every page of the FVA website before the first day of school and mark all the
deadlines, then go directly to the school calendar and post all dates and times to use the
auditorium.
Choose your exposures wisely.
Don't choose your literature with the philosophy that you are exposing them to excellent
literature. Choose music that your students can sing well.

Teachers who teach chorus and orchestra are in complete agreement. Their advice focuses

almost entirely around preparation and respect.

Advice on class preparation and respect includes the following:

Be flexible! Also be willing to adapt.
Plan and re-plan.
Show respect to others and you shall receive it in return.
Have folders set up for the first day, or as soon as possible
Prepare all work in advance
Choose program music that will sustain you artistically through the weeks and months of
preparation.









Treat everyone with dignity and respect. It costs us little, makes us better teachers, and
promotes success among our students.

Advice on time management includes the following:

Don't try to do too much. Better to have a few songs sung well than a lot of songs sung
poorly.

When the experienced teachers were asked if teaching had gotten easier since their first year,

95.6% said it had either gotten easier or remained at the same level of difficulty as their first

year. Knowing that result, it is easy to conclude that regardless of how many years one has been

teaching, the same issues always surface. As a teacher, one cannot forget sometimes difficult

situations will arise, and that we one will need help to get past it. Often it seems teachers get

stuck in a rut and cannot remember the joy and excitement they once felt as new teachers. One

needs to be constantly searching for advice from others as that is what will improve them and

keep their teaching skills sharp.


Additional advice was given to the researcher from the first attempt of data collection in
the form of an e-mail:

Judy McLaurin, over 30 years of teaching experience.

Don't try to do everything the first day.
Do try to remain calm
Do have a stack of thank you cards for all those people who will be helping you during
the year: custodians, secretaries, colleagues.
Don't be afraid to ask questions.
Do plan ahead.

A second-year teacher from Brevard County, Florida

Don't be afraid or self-conscious about asking "dumb" questions or seeking advice from
other teachers, whether they are music teachers or other teachers in your school. You are
not expected or supposed to know all the answers the first (or second) year!
Steal ideas!! Some of my best teaching tools are things that I've taken from watching
other people or from attending a workshop.
If you can, go and watch a few other teachers in your field. Sometimes this is gratifying
because you may realize that you are doing the same things that they are, and you can
always pick up something new to do in your classroom.
Go with the flow. Read the energy of your kids every day. Sometimes your plans will
change, so be ready to think on your feet and stay flexible.
16










Don't think or assume that the kids will automatically be good. This was probably the
hardest thing for me!
Last, keep a journal (I did weekly) of positives and negatives. It is a great tool to look
back on, and it helps you remember your first year!


Figure 4-1. Teaching Combinations


Chorus and
Orchestra



Chorus and Band
4%


Figure 4-2. Chorus Only









Figure 4-3. Chorus and Orchestra









CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

The following paragraphs contain information gathered directly from the survey

conducted, as well as from related literature and even the personal experiences of the researcher.

The school year is divided by months, creating a guide to help the first-year teacher build a

successful choral program. It is written in the second person and in a familiar style to make it

more accessible and less daunting to the already overwhelmed first-year director.









APPENDIX
HANDBOOK

The Dos and Don'ts of a First Year Choral Director:
A Handbook by Suzanne Dickey

But before we even begin the school year...

If you have not already done so, join The American Choral Directors Association
(ACDA), The National Association for Music Education (MENC), the Florida Music Educators
association (FMEA), and Florida Vocal Association (FVA). Being a member of these
organizations will give you valuable resources both online and in person. The FVA conference in
August showcases a large amount of choral literature (which you get for free!) and even has a
new directors gathering where you can meet fellow directors from your county and others, and it
also gives you the opportunity to "leam the ropes" of your district, and just how things work
there. The ACDA has a fall conference in November covering numerous topics that will prove to
be very helpful and directly relevant to your chorus. The FMEA holds the largest conference of
the year in Tampa. The conference takes place over the first weekend of January, and has all
sorts of wonderful events like the All-State Choirs (Elementary-High School) many other
performing groups, and helpful learning sessions.









August
Advice from the experts

Choose EASY and simple songs, then build using baby steps.
Have folders set up for the first day, or as soon as possible
Plan and re-plan.
Keep a Journal of positives and negatives. It is a great tool to look back on, and it helps
your remember your first year!
Read every page of the FVA website before the first day of school and mark all the
deadlines, then go directly to the school calendar and post all dates and times to use the
auditorium

For most teachers in Florida, School begins around the third week of August, with pre-
planning the second week. Although the pre-planning time generally consists of school-wide
meetings, it is important to take whatever time you have left from the meetings and prepare your
classroom. The most difficult task you will face is picking out choral literature, which brings
forth our first "do:" Do search for previous fall programs from your new school. Although the
spring programs will really showcase the previous year's choir, they typically represent the
culmination of a year's work; it will be best for you to use the fall program to get a realistic idea
of what kind of literature your new choir can handle. Also, learn the ropes of your music library
(if you have one) and get some students to help you with organizing, which brings us to our next
"do"...
Do get to know your student officers before the school year begins (if you have them).
Generally, student officers are elected at the end of the previous year. It may take a bit of hunting
to find out who they are, but you can do it! I suggest finding some marching band students and
asking them. Most of the time, band and chorus have overlapping students, so someone should
be able to help you. If you're not having any luck with the band, get your class list and call some
of the seniors and ask them. They are probably very excited to meet you and will be happy to
help you in any way they can.
Do find out your concert dates. They might have already been picked for you, or you
might have to come up with them yourself. Your best bet for finding out this information? Your
department chair, of course. Don't be too ambitious. For most schools, a winter program is
enough. You might find yourself a little overwhelmed if you try to pack two performances into
one semester. Start off slow your first year, and if you find that it is manageable, go for the fall
concert during your second year of teaching.
Do put out a newsletter including all calendar dates for the fall and winter. Allow room
for changes, but for dates of events that are set in stone, let your students know. Also, cross
reference with other school calendars so that you are fully aware of any potential conflicts. The
sooner you get this calendar into the students' hands, the better.
All State Auditions are important, so do send your students to them! Start working with
them on sight reading skills and vocabulary lists early so that they can have a good chance of
making it onto the second round of all-state auditions.
Do find out who your mentor is and schedule meetings with him/her. If you are not given
one, email your district chair (the one you should have met if you attended the FVA conference)
and ask for one.
Do find out what your budget is, and spend appropriately. Your bookkeeper should have
that information for you, so don't be shy about asking for it.









September


Advice from the experts

Stay away from teacher's lounges. They breed gossip. Be friends with the janitor and the
secretary. They will make your life easy or difficult. You get to make the choice.

You are your pupil's teacher, not their friend. Mutual respect is key.
Choose lots of music for each class, because some things don't work, but you cannot
know that until you listen to the students.
Be an iron hand in a velvet glove. Provide your students with a strict behavior structure:
do not be their friend but do not go out of your way to be their enemy. Be a teacher: be
an adult.

This month will be filled with all sorts of interesting activities like getting to know your
students, learning new music, learning the ropes of your new school and many other things.
Beware of when faculty meetings are and be ready for things like open house, if your school has
one. It's your first full month of school, so GOOD LUCK!
Your first bit of advice for this month: Do sight-read every day. This might be hard to do
as the year goes along, but do your best with it. Teach your students solfege and get them used to
writing it in their music. Also practice using the hand signs with saying the solfege. You will be
amazed how good they will be at sight reading after a few weeks of daily reading.
Work on a few trial run pieces to see where your choir is skill-wise. You will quickly be
able to tell what pieces they can handle and what pieces they cannot. Don't be ashamed to let
them read a piece of music that is way below their ability level. Let them experience some
success so that they might be willing to let you bring them to more difficult pieces. Also,
purchase some fun warm-up books. It will get their spirits up and be a great way for them to start
off every day of singing.
Do make sure you get an all-state vocabulary list to all choral students regardless of
whether they plan on auditioning for all-state. Typically the words on those vocabulary lists are
just good to know for all music students. Also, around winter break time, test their knowledge of
those words. You might be impressed by how much they know! Also, be willing to audition for
statewide events like Disney's Candlelight Festival. Whether your choir makes it in or not, it will
be a good learning experience for them and it will make them better performers.
Do find out who was the accompanist in previous years for your school. Chances are they
will be more than happy to play for you, and they will be able to give you some valuable advice
on how your choir should sound. You may think you know what that sound should be, but it's
always good to have a second opinion. Make sure your accompanist gets a calendar including all
performance dates so that they know well in advance that you need them to play for you. It's
probably a good idea to set up several rehearsal times during the school day the week before the
concert as well.
Do hold a fundraiser for travel costs. Trust me: you will have plenty of fundraisers to
choose from. Allow the students to help with this one! Get them excited about the prospect of
selling something, so you will have a good result. Another idea (not so much for a fundraiser,
but to create choral unity): have some of the artistic students in your choir design a t-shirt.
Include everyone's name on the back of it, so they can see they are a team as well. This will
greatly help the transition from last year's choral teacher to this year's.









October


Advice from the experts

Choose good literature that your chorus can do well. Don't try to make your choir fit a
mold. Find music that fits them.
Deliver instructions often and with consistency. Repetition and consistency in
expectations are critical for students to absorb and practice the skills.
Choose your exposures wisely.
Cover your Behind. Be sure you have dotted all "i's" and crossed all "t's" because it
WILL come back to bite you if you do not.

At this point, you should be well aware of what kind of music your choir can handle, and
you should have already chosen your winter concert pieces. Keep working on it. It would be a
wonderful thing to have either your music mentor or someone else from your district come hear
your choir, or even teach your choir for a day. Both you and your students will learn a lot from
that experience. Don't forget to sight-read every day!
All-state auditions will likely be at the beginning of this month, so get those students
ready! Don't pay their registration fee. They are a whole lot more likely to drop out of the
audition if the school has paid for their registration and they have not. Call for mandatory after-
school rehearsals for sight reading and practice vocabulary tests. This will be painful in the
process, but will ultimately help them with the final all-state test.
Do find out if the city that your high school is located in has any tree-lighting ceremonies
and volunteer your services. If your choir is too large to take to a tree-lighting event, then only
bring a balanced group of juniors and seniors. Also, get that same group of kids to go caroling at
a nursing home. The students will love it and will remember it forever, and the community will
begin to appreciate and support your choir.
Be willing to stay after school for the students who need a little extra help, whether for
vocal solo's, sight-reading practice, or perhaps for the small ensemble group that can include
students who could not take your class because of scheduling conflicts.
Get your grades in order for the first nine weeks. Don't let those report cards sneak up on
you! You will regret it! If you will be doing any kind of travelling in the next few months, make
sure you get all field-trip forms together, and book the transportation you might need for your
group.









November


Advice from the experts

Students don't often show it, but they care deeply about what you think of them. Take
great care of what you say: build their fragile egos and they will trust and follow your
kindness. Music is just the medium for building character, confidence and curiosity.
Be organized: discover and listen to as much literature as possible; watch experienced
clinicians/teachers work their magic in rehearsals; get involved in student activities
outside of the choral classroom. You are visible and you can recruit in not-so-obvious
places: be sure to "get away" from teaching and "get refreshed." It is easy to bum out.

Don't forget to keep sight reading daily, and continue working on your winter concert
material. November is typically a light month as far as events go, so take a deep breath and get
ready for your winter concert. Introduce a fun new song that will peak those potentially wayward
students' interests and get them back on track for that fabulous concert you are preparing them
for. During this time of year, some districts hold an event called Solo and Ensemble. It is
basically a district-wide competition similar to MPA but on a much smaller scale. Students who
study voice privately will have the opportunity to showcase their talent by performing in front of
a judge for a rating. Small ensembles can also perform during this event. Do prepare your
students for any kind of Solo or Ensemble competition they might want to be part of. Make sure
all paperwork is complete for their registration and be sure they know all of their music from
memory and have practiced it with an accompanist at least twice. Have them practice performing
their music in front of you and judge them on the same scale the actual judges will be using.









December:


Advice from the experts:

Be consistent and organized, both in the physical layout of the classroom but also as
regards paperwork, planning, and the daily class plan!
Get as many faculty members or other teachers in the county to come in and observe, and
provide feedback. That is the only way you will be able to fix what you don't realize.
Be fair, firm, and consistent.


It's concert time! Do take a big breath; you WILL make it. Make sure everything
(including risers) is set up for the concert at least one week before the performance. If you have
not already done so, be sure all students have uniforms to wear for the big day. Have a concert-
day emergency kit including things like band-aids, Tylenol, bobby pins and safety pins. Put a
parent in charge of that kit and let the students know who to go to if some sort of disaster occurs
with their uniform.
Be sure to attend all other performances of your fellow music faculty. Be supportive; you
are all a team whether you get along or not. It is very important to show camaraderie with all
other school faculty.
Once your concert is complete, have all students turn in their winter music. Also,
schedule some time during the last few days before winter break to have several students
organize your library. You will truly appreciate this when you get back from the break in
January. The last thing you should do for the month of December is to make a plan for the
second semester. Other than that, enjoy your winter break!









January
Advice from the experts

*Classroom management (discipline) and time management are difficult concepts to grasp
as a beginning teacher. It's never too early to prepare a piece of music with your choir,
but be sure the music is attainable for them or it will only frustrate them and you. Don't
try to teach your middle-school or beginning high-school students literature you sang in
college. It doesn't work!

At the very beginning of the month, do plan on going to the FMEA convention. If you have
students who made the all-state choir, you will be expected to go, but whether or not that is the
case, you will greatly benefit from going to the convention.
Since half of your students will have forgotten what they learned during your first
semester of teaching, you will need to remind them, so don't pick up just where you left off.
Take just a couple of steps back and start slow. Get them used to the idea of sight-reading again.
This shouldn't be too hard since you were sight-reading with your students every day, right? No
worries if you were not; this is a perfect time to start.
Send out a new newsletter for the second semester including all performance dates. Just
as in September, it is important to get those calendar dates out soon so that everyone knows
when everything happens. The Music Performance Assessment festival or other state festival is
coming up soon, and you will need chaperones, so get in touch with some of the very helpful
parents you have met so far this school year and ask them if they would chaperone for you. It's
better to plan for trips early so it is not a scramble to find help right before it's time to go.
Start testing out new music for your spring performance and for festival. Your students
will be ready for the challenge, so get them revved up to make a "superior" on their MPA
ratings! If you are having a hard time picking out music for festival, ask for help from your
mentor, music resource teacher, or simply another choral director you've gotten to know over the
past few months. All of them will be more than willing to help you in... they all know how hard
it is to do it as a first-year choral director!
Begin researching travel costs for MPA festivals and check with your bookkeeper to see
if you have the money to travel. If not, organize another fundraiser. Plenty of clubs have several
fundraisers in one year, so don't feel bad about having more than one fundraiser in a school year.









February


Advice from the experts

Always keep your focus on why you are there educating students. It's really not about us
it's about them!
Don't choose your literature with the philosophy that you are exposing them to excellent
literature. Choose music that your students can sing well.
Choose program music that will sustain you artistically through the weeks and months of
preparation.


At this point, all of your music for the MPA festival should be picked. Keep working
through it, and perfecting it. This would be another great time to have an outsider come in to hear
your group, just to make sure students are on the right track. You'll be glad that you did! Also
for this time, your spring performance music should be almost completely picked out. You
should of course use your MPA music in your spring concert, but you should also have some
other fun music for your group to sing. This time can be very stressful, so make a point to keep
your classes light and fun, but focused.









March


Advice from the experts

Be consistent and organized.
Be flexible and willing to adapt.
If you don't get it done today, don't worry! It will still be here when you get to work the
next day!!!!

This is that very special time of year we like to call festival time! It will happen in the
month of March or April, so for convenience, those two months in this handbook are
interchangeable. This time of year can be very exciting and stressful, and the stress is not only
felt by you but your students. They will really want to get a superior rating, you hope they will
get one. Don't forget to ask for help from the wonderful parents of your students! They will be
happy to take some of that stress from you.
In preparation for MPA's, be sure to book your travel arrangements early. Make sure all
of your students are academically eligible, and encourage them to get the field-trip forms back to
you soon. You really don't want to leave anyone behind on this trip! Make sure that everyone
has original copies of their music and that they are dressed appropriately and are ready to go!
Good Luck!









April


Advice from the experts

Its not about getting Superiors or having aesthetic moments, it's about survival. Do the
best you can do every day and keep swimming against the current: it will get easier! Stick
with it!
Learn from your mistakes, but don't let them torture you.


You will be amazed how fast April will go by with spring break! It will be the end of the
school year before you know it, but don't congratulate yourself yet! You still have a lot of work
to do. First, do be sure to keep your students focused. The end of the year has so many
distractions, that it is easy for students to get lost in extracurricular functions. Make sure that
your time in class is used appropriately with as little distraction as possible. Keep sight-reading
every day. Even if festival is over, sight-reading is an excellent skill set for your students to have,
plus it keeps their minds completely engaged during your class.
Your concert will either be at the end of this month, or at the beginning of next, so be
prepared. Have someone come from outside your school to teach your choir and critique your
students. Your students will learn so much from the experience, and it will make them more
aware of what needs to be fixed in the music that they are singing.









May
Advice from the experts

Don't settle for less than the best. It may take a while, but your students will respond to
consistently taught vocal techniques.
Next year will be easier!


Be ready for your concert! Just as in December, make sure that your risers are on the
stage at least one week in advance, and practice on them. You do not want any fainting spells.
Also, get your accompanist in to play for your students at least twice before the actual
performance. Have that emergency kit ready to go and don't forget to recruit those ever-so-
ready-to-help parents. Don't feel like you need to do everything yourself! Ask for help. You'll be
surprised how many people want to. Make sure to remind your students to wash or dry-clean
their concert attire so that everyone is looking their best on concert day.
Once the concert is over and your students are wondering what you will have next for
them to do, throw them an in-school party. They have (hopefully) been wonderful all year, and
will appreciate this gift from you like none other. Have them help you put away all music, and
clean/re-organize the library. Give them menial tasks (clean-up the classroom and such) so that
you won't have to do it later. Trust me; you'll appreciate them doing this so much that you'll
think about throwing them another party, but you won't.
As tough as this year has seemed at times, you have made the best of it and have come
out a stronger teacher in the end. You will have made plenty of mistakes, but just remember, it
only gets easier! Don't let the small things get you down, and don't be afraid to ask for help.
Plenty of teachers have been in your position, and they all made it through, and so will you. Now
all you have left for this school year is a wonderful summer of free time. Use it wisely: spend
some time thinking about what you would like to do for your second year, and enjoy your time
off: You deserve it!

I truly hope that the advice in this handbook is helpful. Keep strong and don't forget to remain
calm!









BIBLIOGRAPHY

American Choral Directors Association (2009). Retrieved October 1, 2009, from American
Choral Directors Association: http://acda.org/

Anderson, S. (2003). The Quotable Musician: From Bach to Tupac. New York: Allworth.

Blocker, R. (2004). The Robert Shaw Reader. New Haven Conn: Yale University Press.

Brewer, M. (1997). Kick start Your Choir. London: Faber Music.

Davison, A. (1971). Choral Conducting (13th edition). Cambridge Mass: Harvard University.

Ehret, W. (1984). The Choral Conductor's Handbook. Melville NY : Marks Music.

FVA. (2009-2010). Handbookfor the Florida Vocal Association. Florida Vocal Association,
INC.

Garretson, R. (2002). Conducting Choral Music. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Glenn, C. (1991). In Quest of Answers: Interviews with American Choral Conductors. Chapel
Hill, N.C.:Hinshaw Music, Inc.

Hennings, P. (2000). Helpful Hints for Meaningful, Efficient Rehearsals. 40.

Kosmaceski, C. (2008, November 18). Choral Director. Retrieved October 31, 2009, from
http://www.choraldirectormag.com/ME2/dirmod.asp? sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Public
ations::Article&mid=8F3A7027421841978Fl8BE895F87F791 &tier=4&id=39FE6D1F16E74A7
C8ADB 186F720247A5

Music Educators National Conference. (2009). The National Association for Music Education .
Retrieved October 1, 2009, from The National Association for Music Education :
http://menc.org/









BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Suzanne Dolores Dickey was born on March 16, 1985 and is a native of Dublin, Ireland.

In June of 1995, Suzanne, with her family, moved to Dracut Massachusetts where she spent the

rest of her secondary school years. Suzanne received her Bachelor's Degree in Music from

Florida College in 2007. She began teaching music at Boyette Springs Elementary School in the

fall of 2007, and by that following spring, she applied and was accepted into the Summers

Master's of Music Education in Gainesville at the University of Florida. Since then, Suzanne has

taught music at Lutz Elementary school in Lutz, Florida and Temple Terrace Elementary School

in Temple Terrace, Florida. Currently, Suzanne is serving as the Choral Director at Melbourne

High School in Melbourne, Florida





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THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF A FIRST YEAR CHORAL DIRECTOR : A RESEARCH-BASED HANDBOOK By SUZANNE D. DICKEY SUPERVISORY COMMITTEE: RUSSELL L. ROBINSON, CHAIR WILL KESLING, MEMBER A PROJECT IN LIEU OF THESIS PRESENTED TO THE COLLEG E OF FINE ARTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF MUSIC UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2009

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Copyright 2009 Suzanne D. Dickey

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to express my sincere appreciation to my committee, Dr. Russell Robinson and Dr. Will Kesling for dedicating their time and effort in reviewing my research. I would like to especially thank Dr. Russell Robinson for guidin g me through this process and for his helping me refine this study. I would also like acknowledge my summer’s Masters of Music Education classmates for their advice and support throughout the past two years. Finally, I would like to thank my families, the Murphy’s and Dickey’s, for t heir patience, support and love during this time. To my husband, Joshua Dickey, I could not hav e done any of this without you. You are my rock and I love you!

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 2. RELATED LITERATURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 3. PROCEDURES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 4. RESULTS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 5. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSTIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 9 APPENDIX: HANDBOOK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 LIST OF REFERENCES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 BIOGRAPHIC SKETCH. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

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ABSTRACT The first year of teaching can be scary. Newly gr aduated students-turned-teachers might find themselves in an almost impossible situation w hen entering, for the first time, a classroom full of choral students. The situation can be made worse when that teacher does not have support or access to other choral directors. My study deve loped a handbook to give first-year choral directors the information needed for a successful f irst year of teaching. The handbook covers the length of the school year, month by month, discussi ng general expected procedures most choral directors should consider. Also discussed are firs t-year choral directors’ do’s and don’ts given to me by seasoned teachers from around the state of Fl orida

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Graduating from a collegiate education program and stepping directly into a classroom full of high-school chorus students can be extremel y intimidating. One might well ask, “What have I gotten myself into?” Indeed, while a music e ducation degree provides ample instruction on how and what to teach, the reality of being a te acher encompasses many challenges beyond the scope of any college curriculum. Practice and e xperience will eventually master these challenges, and many teachers have succeeded on the ir own. However, without the advice of more experienced teachers as guidance, the first-ye ar choral director will inevitably struggle. The purpose of this study was to develop a handbook of the do’s and do not’s of a first year choral director, based on practical advice fro m experienced teachers. Current literature indicates that teachers of all levels of experience will have unique perspectives and advice to offer. As such, this handbook is based on a nationw ide survey of choral directors at all levels of experience. The procedures of the survey are detail ed and the resulting words of advice have been compiled into a month-by-month guide for the f irst-year director. The wealth of knowledge collected in this handbook represents many years of practical teaching experience, and is intended to comfort the novice director with clear knowledge of what to expect in the first year.

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CHAPTER 2 RELATED LITERATURE A good conductor ought to be a good chauffeur; the qualities that make the one also make the other. They are concentration, an incessant co ntrol of attention, and presence of mind: the conductor only has to add a little sense of mu sic. --Rachmaninov (Anderson, 2003, p. 80) The conductor should have musicianship, intelligenc e, and a passion to communicate through word and gesture, and an understanding of how people learn -Flummerfelt (Glenn, 1991, p. 109) This literature review dealt with the concept of ef fective conducting as presented in literature, focusing on the aspects of conductor ef fectiveness, rehearsal techniques and interpretation of music. The literature also refere nces various associations’ websites and handbooks on which this handbook is heavily based. Since the middle of the twentieth century, there has been much research regarding what constit utes effective conducting. For first-year choral conductors, this information can be invaluab le; once internalized, it will become part of their everyday routine. When it comes to daily rehearsals, Hennings (2000) suggests that “creating a personal space for each singer creates a sense of self worth ” and as a result singers will sing “with confidence and joy.” She further states: “My philos ophy towards rehearsal is additive. Know your sound ideal, goal and stylistic aim and build towards it, gradually moving from the general to the specific. Singers need to feel that they are successful and making progress” (Pg. 40). Hennings constantly changes the physical arrangemen ts and always ends the rehearsal on a happy note. She claims that “creating individual re sponsibility is the key to the greatest musical growth.” Robert Shaw (Blocker, 2004) also believes that sing ers have both individual and collective responsibilities. These include commitme nt, attendance, punctuality and concentration for the duration of the rehearsal time. “Great corp orate sound depends on great corporate

PAGE 8

responsibility. Some of us read faster than others. Some of us have more voice and more beautiful voices than others. Each of us has gifts enough for the job at hand. All that could be lacking are desire and industry” (p. 40). To have a successful rehearsal, interactions among the sections of the chorus, the chorus as a whole and t he conductor must all be in sync with each other. However, as most conducting books state, it is the conductor who must take the lead as motivator, disciplinarian, concentration, morale an d growth of the choir. Shaw states that rehearsals should have two major objectives: the fi rst is to “save the human voice” and the second is to “use devices which make it impossible not to hear, recognize and correct errors of pitch, rhythm and text” (p. 51). While conductors’ method of beginning daily rehears als may vary from opening with familiar pieces to starting new works or difficult passages in familiar music, all will agree that the beginning of the rehearsal is when the singers’ energy is at its best. A challenge for beginning conductors can often be that of time management. It is important to use every bit of rehearsal time as wisely as possible. Instead of teaching ind ividual lines of music to each section (where one might find that time is lost and concentration of the group might wonder), one would better benefit with teaching the choir to learn and read t he music for themselves. If conductors wish to maintain interest when rehearsing individual parts, then conductors must devise ways to include the other parts, and so use the rehearsal time to t he group’s advantage. The following are suggested rehearsal techniques put forward by condu ctors, aimed at learning material in the shortest possible time and at the same time sustain ing interest. The conductor should have full knowledge of the sco re. The best procedures are those that facilitate learning and achieve artistic singi ng in the shortest periods of time Garretson, 2002, p. 206 While one part is being rehearsed, the other parts should be asked to study the part and listen to it in relation to the other parts--Garret son, 2002, p. 207 Hum their part in the background--Garretson, 2002, p. 207

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n All voices may sing their parts in unison--Garretso n, 2002, p. 207 Separate the elements often in rehearsal. Spend tim e on words only, rhythm only, melody only, or chording only--Brewer, 1997, p. 17 If there are mistakes, look at the problem in isola tion rather than singing a whole section again. Trouble shoot, and if helpful, makes a game out of the problem--Brewer, 1997, p. 17 Always give a reason for repetition. Out with ‘let’ s do it again.’--Ehret, 1984 p. 12 Memorize while learning. An efficient mentally aler t rehearsal brings about memorization from the very beginning--Ehret, 1984 p. 12 Sing whenever you feel the inclination to talk--Dav ison, 1971, p. 40 Although there are many different ways to conduct a rehearsal, the authors above found advice worthwhile to choral directors of all experi ence levels. The last bit of literature on rehearsal techniques is on humor in the classroom. Many conductors have a natural wit about them, and that can be an important trait to unveil when the time is appropriate. Davidson is a true advocate of humor in the classroom, and that is mad e very clear by the following statements: Of all the factors, musical and personal, which ser ve to bring about a community of spirit between conductor and chorus, none is more powerful than the exercise of spontaneous humor--Davison, 1971, p. 9 A rehearsal should be enjoyable in the widest sense The conductor or singer who does not anticipate the fun, as well as the artistic pro fit, should stay at home--Davison, 1971, p. 9 In addition to surveying teachers for direct and pr actical advice, this handbook contains advice from the Florida Vocal Association handbook, which highlights statewide expectations for choral programs. The FVA handbook is what every choral director in the state of Florida should go to first when in need of answers for dist rict information. Within the pages of the handbook are detailed calendars, rules and regulati ons for both solo and ensemble competitions and Music Performance Assessments (MPA). All infor mation in the FVA handbook is invaluable to first-year choral directors and to al l choral directors.

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Both the Music Educators National Conference and Th e American Choral Directors Associations websites served largely in this resear ch. A variety of articles and forums that can be easily referenced through the websites subpages all owing the researcher to obtain much of the general knowledge from which this handbook was draw n.

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CHAPTER 3 PROCEDURES The literature discussed above is based on many yea rs of experience and research. The survey conducted in the research of this handbook, however, does not limit itself to interviewing teachers with many years of teaching experience. In fact, the population used for the survey deliberately included teachers with only a few year s of experience. Christopher Kosmaceski (2008) explains three different circles of people t he novice educator should be in the center of: “Circle one, teachers with 1-3 years of experience; Circle 2, teachers with 6-12 years of experience; and Circle 3, teachers with 15 or more years of experience.” Kosmaceski created a Venn diagram explaining what each of those three gr oups can bring to the table and how they can potentially influence the first-year teacher. H e also details the frequency of meetings and types of activities most beneficial for learning fr om them. Figure 3-1. Circles of Mentorship: Surround Yourself with Excel lence, Kosmaceski, 2008

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Kosmaceski is absolutely correct when he says that “ Immersing ourselves within this circle of musical teaching mentors enables all teac hers to develop a direction and goal and allows us the opportunity to pay back–and pay forward–thes e experiences to the next generation of teachers” (Kosmaceski, 2008). This survey aims to d o just that. This study was qualitative, curricular and descript ive research because the researcher surveyed choral directors on the basis of their exp erience, subject combinations taught, and examples of solid practices in the classroom. The p rocess of gathering data took place in late September through November. An email was sent to p residents and district chairs of the Florida Vocal Association and American Choral Directors Ass ociation asking for one piece of advice from experienced directors. The question was: “if y ou were giving a do or don’t as a piece of advice to a first-year choral director, what would it be?” This method of data collection elicited very little response, so the researcher went about the data collection a different way. She put out a survey through www.surveymonkey.com titled “For Experienced Teachers” with the followi ng questions: 1. How many years have you been teaching? 1-3 4-6 7-12 12-20 2. What kind of music classes do you teach? Choral only Chorus and band Chorus and orchestra All performance groups for the school 3. Throughout your years of teaching, what is the one piece of advice given to you that you have appreciated most? 4. What piece of advice would you give to a first-year choral director? 5. Since your first year of teaching, how much easier has the teaching process been for you? Much easier!

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Somewhat easier About the same It’s gotten harder Through this new means of data collection, the rese archer was able to receive enough responses to make this study worthwhile.

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CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The survey describes above was sent out to a variet y of teachers across the nation. When results from the survey came back, 60.9% respondent s had been teaching for 12 or more years, 17.4% had been teaching for 7-11 years, 13% had bee n teaching for 4-6 years, and 8.7% had been teaching for 1-3 years. Of those surveyed, 73.9% taught chorus only, 4.3% taught chorus and band, and 21.7% taught chorus and orchestra. It is from these teach ing combinations that the researcher found the most correlation of advice given. Those who taught chorus only focused on five main c ategories: perception of oneself, fairness, classroom management, organizational skil ls, and literature. Advice on perception included the following: If you don't get it done today, don't worry! It wil l still be here when you get to work the next day. Perception is reality It's all about the students! Always keep your focus on what you are doing educ ating students. It's really not about you as a teacher. Learn from your mistakes, but don't let them tortur e you. It’s not about getting Superiors [at festivals] or having aesthetic moments, It’s about survival. Do the best you can do every day and keep swimming against the current. It will get easier! Stick with it! Advice that on fairness included the following: Be consistent, fair, and firm. Rules, approval, ign ore, then disapproval. Find a wise mentor Get faculty members or other teachers in the county to come in and observe, and provide feedback. That is the only way you will be able to fix what you don't realize. Choose EASY and simple songs, then build using baby steps. Advice on classroom management included the followi ng: Be an iron hand in a velvet glove. Provide your stu dents with a strict behavior structure: do not be their friend, but do not go out of your w ay to be their enemy. Be a teacher: be an adult. You are your pupils’ teacher, not friend. Mutual re spect is key.

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Classroom management (discipline) as well as time m anagement are difficult concepts to grasp as a beginning teacher. It's never too early to prepare a piece of music with your choir, but be sure the music is attainable for them or it will only frustrate them and you. Don't try to teach your middle-school or beginning high-school students literature you sang in college. It doesn't work! Deliver instructions often and with consistency. Re petition and consistency in expectations are critical for students to absorb an d practice the skills. Advice focused on Organization included the followi ng: Be consistent and organized, in the physical layout of the classroom and also regarding paperwork, planning, and the daily class plan! Students don't often show it, but they care deeply about what you think of them. Take great care of what you say: build their fragile ego s and they will trust and follow your kindness. Music is just the medium for building cha racter, confidence and curiosity. Be organized; discover and listen to as much litera ture as possible; watch experienced clinicians/teachers work their magic in rehearsals; get involved in student activities outside of the choral classroom: you are visible an d you can recruit in not-so-obvious places; be sure to "get away" from teaching and "ge t refreshed." It's easy to burn out. Advice on Literature included the following: Choose good literature that your chorus can do well Don't try to make your choir fit a mold. Find music that fits them. Don't settle for less than the best. It may take a while, but your students will respond to consistently taught vocal techniques. Choose lots of music for each class, because some t hings don't work, but you cannot know that until you listen to the students. Read every page of the FVA website before the first day of school and mark all the deadlines. then go directly to the school calendar and post all dates and times to use the auditorium. Choose your exposures wisely. Don't choose your literature with the philosophy th at you are exposing them to excellent literature. Choose music that your students can sin g well. Teachers who teach chorus and orchestra are in comp lete agreement. Their advice focuses almost entirely around prepariation and respect. Advice on class preparation and respect includes th e following: Be flexible! Also be willing to adapt. Plan and re-plan. Show respect to others and you shall receive it in return. Have folders set up for the first day, or as soon a s possible Prepare all work in advance Choose program music that will sustain you artistic ally through the weeks and months of preparation.

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Treat everyone with dignity and respect. It costs u s little, makes us better teachers, and promotes success among our students. Advice on time management includes the following: Don't try to do too much. Better to have a few song s sung well than a lot of songs sung poorly. When the experienced teachers were asked if teachin g had gotten easier since their first year, 95.6% said it had either gotten easier or remained at the same level of difficulty as their first year. Knowing that result, it is easy to conclude t hat regardless of how many years one has been teaching, the same issues always surface. As a teac her, one cannot forget sometimes difficult situations will arise, and that we one will need he lp to get past it. Often it seems teachers get stuck in a rut and cannot remember the joy and exci tement they once felt as new teachers. One needs to be constantly searching for advice from ot hers as that is what will improve them and keep their teaching skills sharp. Additional advice was given to the researcher from the first attempt of data collection in the form of an e-mail: Judy McLaurin, over 30 years of teaching experience Don't try to do everything the first day. Do try to remain calm Do have a stack of thank you cards for all those pe ople who will be helping you during the year: custodians, secretaries, colleagues. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Do plan ahead. A second-year teacher from Brevard County, Florida Don’t be afraid or self-conscious about asking “dum b” questions or seeking advice from other teachers, whether they are music teachers or other teachers in your school. You are not expected or supposed to know all the answers th e first (or second) year! Steal ideas!! Some of my best teaching tools are th ings that I’ve taken from watching other people or from attending a workshop. If you can, go and watch a few other teachers in yo ur field. Sometimes this is gratifying because you may realize that you are doing the same things that they are, and you can always pick up something new to do in your classroo m. Go with the flow. Read the energy of your kids ever y day. Sometimes your plans will change, so be ready to think on your feet and stay flexible.

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Don’t think or assume that the hardest thing for me! Last, keep a journal (I did weekly) of positives an d negatives. back on, and it helps you Figure 4-1. Tea ching Combinations Figure 4-2. Chorus Only r or assume that the kids will automatically be good. T his was pro Last, keep a journal (I did weekly) of positives an d negatives. It is a great tool to remember your first year! ching Combinations r r r r n !"! #! $%! his was pro bably the It is a great tool to look r

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Figure 43. Chorus and Orchestra 3. Chorus and Orchestra $%! &%

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n CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION The following paragraphs contain information gather ed directly from the survey conducted, as well as from related literature and e ven the personal experiences of the researcher. The school year is divided by months, creating a gu ide to help the first-year teacher build a successful choral program. It is written in the sec ond person and in a familiar style to make it more accessible and less daunting to the already ov erwhelmed first-year director.

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APPENDIX HANDBOOK The Dos and Don’ts of a First Year Choral Director: A Handbook by Suzanne Dickey But before we even begin the school year… If you have not already done so, join The American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), The National Association for Music Educatio n (MENC), the Florida Music Educators association (FMEA), and Florida Vocal Association ( FVA). Being a member of these organizations will give you valuable resources both online and in person. The FVA conference in August showcases a large amount of choral literatur e (which you get for free!) and even has a new directors gathering where you can meet fellow d irectors from your county and others, and it also gives you the opportunity to “learn the ropes” of your district, and just how things work there. The ACDA has a fall conference in November c overing numerous topics that will prove to be very helpful and directly relevant to your choru s. The FMEA holds the largest conference of the year in Tampa. The conference takes place over the first weekend of January, and has all sorts of wonderful events like the All-State Choirs (Elementary-High School) many other performing groups, and helpful learning sessions.

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August Advice from the experts Choose EASY and simple songs, then build using baby steps. Have folders set up for the first day, or as soon a s possible Plan and re-plan. Keep a Journal of positives and negatives. It is a great tool to look back on, and it helps your remember your first year! Read every page of the FVA website before the first day of school and mark all the deadlines. then go directly to the school calendar and post all dates and times to use the auditorium For most teachers in Florida, School begins around the third week of August, with preplanning the second week. Although the pre-planning time generally consists of school-wide meetings, it is important to take whatever time you have left from the meetings and prepare your classroom. The most difficult task you will face is picking out choral literature, which brings forth our first “do:” Do search for previous fall p rograms from your new school. Although the spring programs will really showcase the previous y ear’s choir, they typically represent the culmination of a year’s work; it will be best for y ou to use the fall program to get a realistic idea of what kind of literature your new choir can handl e. Also, learn the ropes of your music library (if you have one) and get some students to help you with organizing, which brings us to our next “do”… Do get to know your student officers before the sch ool year begins (if you have them). Generally, student officers are elected at the end of the previous year. It may take a bit of hunting to find out who they are, but you can do it! I sugg est finding some marching band students and asking them. Most of the time, band and chorus have overlapping students, so someone should be able to help you. If you’re not having any luck with the band, get your class list and call some of the seniors and ask them. They are probably very excited to meet you and will be happy to help you in any way they can. Do find out your concert dates. They might have alr eady been picked for you, or you might have to come up with them yourself. Your best bet for finding out this information? Your department chair, of course. Don’t be too ambitious For most schools, a winter program is enough. You might find yourself a little overwhelme d if you try to pack two performances into one semester. Start off slow your first year, and i f you find that it is manageable, go for the fall concert during your second year of teaching. Do put out a newsletter including all calendar date s for the fall and winter. Allow room for changes, but for dates of events that are set i n stone, let your students know. Also, cross reference with other school calendars so that you a re fully aware of any potential conflicts. The sooner you get this calendar into the students’ han ds, the better. All State Auditions are important, so do send your students to them! Start working with them on sight reading skills and vocabulary lists early so that they can have a good chance of making it onto the second round of all-state auditi ons. Do find out who your mentor is and schedule meetin gs with him/her. If you are not given one, email your district chair (the one you should have met if you attended the FVA conference) and ask for one. Do find out what your budget is, and spend appropri ately. Your bookkeeper should have that information for you, so don’t be shy about ask ing for it.

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September Advice from the experts Stay away from teacher's lounges. They breed gossip Be friends with the janitor and the secretary. They will make your life easy or difficu lt. You get to make the choice. You are your pupil's teacher, not their friend. Mut ual respect is key. Choose lots of music for each class, because some t hings don't work, but you cannot know that until you listen to the students. Be an iron hand in a velvet glove. Provide your stu dents with a strict behavior structure: do not be their friend but do not go out of your way to be their enemy. Be a teacher: be an adult. This month will be filled with all sorts of interes ting activities like getting to know your students, learning new music, learning the ropes of your new school and many other things. Beware of when faculty meetings are and be ready fo r things like open house, if your school has one. It’s your first full month of school, so GOOD LUCK! Your first bit of advice for this month: Do sight-r ead every day. This might be hard to do as the year goes along, but do your best with it. T each your students solfege and get them used to writing it in their music. Also practice using the hand signs with saying the solfege. You will be amazed how good they will be at sight reading after a few weeks of daily reading. Work on a few trial run pieces to see where your ch oir is skill-wise. You will quickly be able to tell what pieces they can handle and what p ieces they cannot. Don’t be ashamed to let them read a piece of music that is way below their ability level. Let them experience some success so that they might be willing to let you br ing them to more difficult pieces. Also, purchase some fun warm-up books. It will get their spirits up and be a great way for them to start off every day of singing. Do make sure you get an all-state vocabulary list t o all choral students regardless of whether they plan on auditioning for all-state. Typ ically the words on those vocabulary lists are just good to know for all music students. Also, aro und winter break time, test their knowledge of those words. You might be impressed by how much the y know! Also, be willing to audition for statewide events like Disney’s Candlelight Festival Whether your choir makes it in or not, it will be a good learning experience for them and it will make them better performers. Do find out who was the accompanist in previous yea rs for your school. Chances are they will be more than happy to play for you, and they w ill be able to give you some valuable advice on how your choir should sound. You may think you k now what that sound should be, but it’s always good to have a second opinion. Make sure you r accompanist gets a calendar including all performance dates so that they know well in advance that you need them to play for you. It’s probably a good idea to set up several rehearsal ti mes during the school day the week before the concert as well. Do hold a fundraiser for travel costs. Trust me: yo u will have plenty of fundraisers to choose from. Allow the students to help with this o ne! Get them excited about the prospect of selling something, so you will have a good result. Another idea (not so much for a fundraiser, but to create choral unity): have some of the artis tic students in your choir design a t-shirt. Include everyone’s name on the back of it, so they can see they are a team as well. This will greatly help the transition from last year’s choral teacher to this year’s.

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October Advice from the experts Choose good literature that your chorus can do well Don't try to make your choir fit a mold. Find music that fits them. Deliver instructions often and with consistency. Re petition and consistency in expectations are critical for students to absorb an d practice the skills. Choose your exposures wisely. Cover your Behind. Be sure you have dotted all “i's ” and crossed all “t's” because it WILL come back to bite you if you do not. At this point, you should be well aware of what kin d of music your choir can handle, and you should have already chosen your winter concert pieces. Keep working on it. It would be a wonderful thing to have either your music mentor or someone else from your district come hear your choir, or even teach your choir for a day. Bot h you and your students will learn a lot from that experience. Don’t forget to sight-read every d ay! All-state auditions will likely be at the beginning of this month, so get those students ready! Don’t pay their registration fee. They are a whole lot more likely to drop out of the audition if the school has paid for their registrat ion and they have not. Call for mandatory afterschool rehearsals for sight reading and practice vo cabulary tests. This will be painful in the process, but will ultimately help them with the fin al all-state test. Do find out if the city that your high school is lo cated in has any tree-lighting ceremonies and volunteer your services. If your choir is too l arge to take to a tree-lighting event, then only bring a balanced group of juniors and seniors. Also get that same group of kids to go caroling at a nursing home. The students will love it and will remember it forever, and the community will begin to appreciate and support your choir. Be willing to stay after school for the students wh o need a little extra help, whether for vocal solo’s, sight-reading practice, or perhaps fo r the small ensemble group that can include students who could not take your class because of s cheduling conflicts. Get your grades in order for the first nine weeks. Don’t let those report cards sneak up on you! You will regret it! If you will be doing any k ind of travelling in the next few months, make sure you get all field-trip forms together, and boo k the transportation you might need for your group.

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November Advice from the experts Students don't often show it, but they care deeply about what you think of them. Take great care of what you say: build their fragile ego s and they will trust and follow your kindness. Music is just the medium for building cha racter, confidence and curiosity. Be organized: discover and listen to as much litera ture as possible; watch experienced clinicians/teachers work their magic in rehearsals; get involved in student activities outside of the choral classroom. You are visible an d you can recruit in not-so-obvious places: be sure to "get away" from teaching and "ge t refreshed." It is easy to burn out. Don’t forget to keep sight reading daily, and conti nue working on your winter concert material. November is typically a light month as fa r as events go, so take a deep breath and get ready for your winter concert. Introduce a fun new song that will peak those potentially wayward students’ interests and get them back on track for that fabulous concert you are preparing them for. During this time of year, some districts hold an event called Solo and Ensemble. It is basically a district-wide competition similar to MP A but on a much smaller scale. Students who study voice privately will have the opportunity to showcase their talent by performing in front of a judge for a rating. Small ensembles can also perf orm during this event. Do prepare your students for any kind of Solo or Ensemble competiti on they might want to be part of. Make sure all paperwork is complete for their registration an d be sure they know all of their music from memory and have practiced it with an accompanist at least twice. Have them practice performing their music in front of you and judge them on the s ame scale the actual judges will be using.

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December: Advice from the experts : Be consistent and organized, both in the physical l ayout of the classroom but also as regards paperwork, planning, and the daily class pl an! Get as many faculty members or other teachers in th e county to come in and observe, and provide feedback. That is the only way you will be able to fix what you don't realize. Be fair, firm, and consistent. It’s concert time! Do take a big breath; you WILL m ake it. Make sure everything (including risers) is set up for the concert at lea st one week before the performance. If you have not already done so, be sure all students have unif orms to wear for the big day. Have a concertday emergency kit including things like band-aids, Tylenol, bobby pins and safety pins. Put a parent in charge of that kit and let the students k now who to go to if some sort of disaster occurs with their uniform. Be sure to attend all other performances of your fe llow music faculty. Be supportive; you are all a team whether you get along or not. It is very important to show camaraderie with all other school faculty. Once your concert is complete, have all students tu rn in their winter music. Also, schedule some time during the last few days before winter break to have several students organize your library. You will truly appreciate th is when you get back from the break in January. The last thing you should do for the mont h of December is to make a plan for the second semester. Other than that, enjoy your winter break!

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January Advice from the experts Classroom management (discipline) and time manageme nt are difficult concepts to grasp as a beginning teacher. It's never too early to pre pare a piece of music with your choir, but be sure the music is attainable for them or it will only frustrate them and you. Don't try to teach your middle-school or beginning high-s chool students literature you sang in college. It doesn't work! At the very beginning of the month, do plan on goin g to the FMEA convention. If you have students who made the all-state choir, you will be expected to go, but whether or not that is the case, you will greatly benefit from going to the co nvention. Since half of your students will have forgotten wha t they learned during your first semester of teaching, you will need to remind them, so don’t pick up just where you left off. Take just a couple of steps back and start slow. Ge t them used to the idea of sight-reading again. This shouldn’t be too hard since you were sight-rea ding with your students every day, right? No worries if you were not; this is a perfect time to start. Send out a new newsletter for the second semester i ncluding all performance dates. Just as in September, it is important to get those calen dar dates out soon so that everyone knows when everything happens. The Music Performance Asse ssment festival or other state festival is coming up soon, and you will need chaperones, so ge t in touch with some of the very helpful parents you have met so far this school year and as k them if they would chaperone for you. It’s better to plan for trips early so it is not a scram ble to find help right before it’s time to go. Start testing out new music for your spring perform ance and for festival. Your students will be ready for the challenge, so get them revved up to make a “superior” on their MPA ratings! If you are having a hard time picking out music for festival, ask for help from your mentor, music resource teacher, or simply another c horal director you’ve gotten to know over the past few months. All of them will be more than will ing to help you in… they all know how hard it is to do it as a first-year choral director! Begin researching travel costs for MPA festivals an d check with your bookkeeper to see if you have the money to travel. If not, organize a nother fundraiser. Plenty of clubs have several fundraisers in one year, so don’t feel bad about ha ving more than one fundraiser in a school year.

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February Advice from the experts Always keep your focus on why you are there educa ting students. It's really not about us it's about them! Don't choose your literature with the philosophy th at you are exposing them to excellent literature. Choose music that your students can sin g well. Choose program music that will sustain you artistic ally through the weeks and months of preparation. At this point, all of your music for the MPA festiv al should be picked. Keep working through it, and perfecting it. This would be anothe r great time to have an outsider come in to hear your group, just to make sure students are on the r ight track. You’ll be glad that you did! Also for this time, your spring performance music should be almost completely picked out. You should of course use your MPA music in your spring concert, but you should also have some other fun music for your group to sing. This time c an be very stressful, so make a point to keep your classes light and fun, but focused.

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March Advice from the experts Be consistent and organized. Be flexible and willing to adapt. If you don't get it done today, don't worry! It wil l still be here when you get to work the next day!!!! This is that very special time of year we like to c all festival time! It will happen in the month of March or April, so for convenience, those two months in this handbook are interchangeable. This time of year can be very exci ting and stressful, and the stress is not only felt by you but your students. They will really wan t to get a superior rating, you hope they will get one. Don’t forget to ask for help from the wond erful parents of your students! They will be happy to take some of that stress from you. In preparation for MPA’s, be sure to book your trav el arrangements early. Make sure all of your students are academically eligible, and enc ourage them to get the field-trip forms back to you soon. You really don’t want to leave anyone beh ind on this trip! Make sure that everyone has original copies of their music and that they ar e dressed appropriately and are ready to go! Good Luck!

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n April Advice from the experts Its not about getting Superiors or having aesthetic moments, it’s about survival. Do the best you can do every day and keep swimming against the current: it will get easier! Stick with it! Learn from your mistakes, but don't let them tortur e you. You will be amazed how fast April will go by with s pring break! It will be the end of the school year before you know it, but don’t congratul ate yourself yet! You still have a lot of work to do. First, do be sure to keep your students focu sed. The end of the year has so many distractions, that it is easy for students to get l ost in extracurricular functions. Make sure that your time in class is used appropriately with as li ttle distraction as possible. Keep sight-reading every day. Even if festival is over, sight-reading is an excellent skill set for your students to have plus it keeps their minds completely engaged during your class. Your concert will either be at the end of this mon th, or at the beginning of next, so be prepared. Have someone come from outside your schoo l to teach your choir and critique your students. Your students will learn so much from the experience, and it will make them more aware of what needs to be fixed in the music that t hey are singing.

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May Advice from the experts Don't settle for less than the best. It may take a while, but your students will respond to consistently taught vocal techniques. Next year will be easier! Be ready for your concert! Just as in December, mak e sure that your risers are on the stage at least one week in advance, and practice on them. You do not want any fainting spells. Also, get your accompanist in to play for your stud ents at least twice before the actual performance. Have that emergency kit ready to go an d don’t forget to recruit those ever-soready-to-help parents. Don’t feel like you need to do everything yourself! Ask for help. You’ll be surprised how many people want to. Make sure to rem ind your students to wash or dry-clean their concert attire so that everyone is looking th eir best on concert day. Once the concert is over and your students are wond ering what you will have next for them to do, throw them an in-school party. They hav e (hopefully) been wonderful all year, and will appreciate this gift from you like none other. Have them help you put away all music, and clean/re-organize the library. Give them menial tas ks (clean-up the classroom and such) so that you won’t have to do it later. Trust me; you’ll app reciate them doing this so much that you’ll think about throwing them another party, but you wo n’t. As tough as this year has seemed at times, you have made the best of it and have come out a stronger teacher in the end. You will have ma de plenty of mistakes, but just remember, it only gets easier! Don’t let the small things get yo u down, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Plenty of teachers have been in your position, and they all made it through, and so will you. Now all you have left for this school year is a wonderf ul summer of free time. Use it wisely: spend some time thinking about what you would like to do for your second year, and enjoy your time off: You deserve it! I truly hope that the advice in this handbook is h elpful. Keep strong and don’t forget to remain calm!

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BIBLIOGRAPHY American Choral Directors Association (2009). Retrieved October 1, 2009, from American Choral Directors Association: http://acda.org/ Anderson, S. (2003). The Quotable Musician: From Bach to Tupac. New York: Allworth. Blocker, R. (2004). The Robert Shaw Reader. New Haven Conn: Yale University Press. Brewer, M. (1997). Kick start Your Choir. London: Faber Music. Davison, A. (1971). Choral Conducting (13th edition). Cambridge Mass: Harvard University. Ehret, W. (1984 ). The Choral Conductor’s Handbook Melville NY : Marks Music. FVA. (2009-2010). Handbook for the Florida Vocal Association. Florida Vocal Association, INC. Garretson, R. (2002). Conducting Choral Music. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Glenn, C. (1991). In Quest of Answers: Interviews w ith American Choral Conductors. Chapel Hill, N.C.:Hinshaw Music, Inc. Hennings, P. (2000). Helpful Hints for Meaningful, Efficient Rehearsals. 40. Kosmaceski, C. (2008, November 18). Choral Director Retrieved October 31, 2009, from http://www.choraldirectormag.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid =&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Public ations::Article&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F79 1&tier=4&id=39FE6D1F16E74A7 C8ADB186F720247A5 Music Educators National Conference. (2009). The National Association for Music Education Retrieved October 1, 2009, from The National Associ ation for Music Education : http://menc.org/

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Suzanne Dolores Dickey was born on March 16, 1985 a nd is a native of Dublin, Ireland. In June of 1995, Suzanne, with her family, moved to Dracut Massachusetts where she spent the rest of her secondary school years. Suzanne receive d her Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Florida College in 2007. She began teaching music a t Boyette Springs Elementary School in the fall of 2007, and by that following spring, she app lied and was accepted into the Summers Master’s of Music Education in Gainesville at the U niversity of Florida. Since then, Suzanne has taught music at Lutz Elementary school in Lutz, Flo rida and Temple Terrace Elementary School in Temple Terrace, Florida. Currently, Suzanne is s erving as the Choral Director at Melbourne High School in Melbourne, Florida