Survey: Back to School

SBO Staff • August 2011ChoralSurvey • August 2, 2011

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Prepping for the New School Year

While the annual summer break offers both teachers and students a welcome respite from the grind of the academic year, it is also a unique opportunity for finding new music, professional development, strategic long-term planning, and other critical tasks and activities that might be difficult to fit into the cramped mid-year schedule.  

To ascertain exactly what types of homework this publication’s readers have given themselves over the summer, especially as it pertains to prepping for the school year fast approaching, this recent survey asks exactly that.  Read on to see how your summertime back-to-school preparations stack up against those of your peers.

Are you ready for the new school year?

“I just took the Carol Krueger workshop and am really excited about the new school year!”

Kimberly Morgan

Sun Valley Middle School

Monroe, N.C.


“Not yet!  I take the first few weeks to relax before starting the preparations for next year.”

Nancy Theeman

Masters School

Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.


“June and July are reserved for family activities, but August is about getting ready for the year.”

Ken Ahlberg

Hermantown High School

Hermantown, Minn.



How much of your music do you select before the school year starts?

“I select all fall and most Holiday music in advance. Jazz music, I select for the entire year. In September, I select March and spring music once I get to know my younger groups.”

Jim McCullough

Saint Charles East High School

Saint Charles, Ill.


“Summer is a good time to peruse music; get single copies and play/sing through them.  It is a bit time-consuming (although enjoyable); and there usually is not time enough during the school year.”

Carl Benton

Armstrong Atlantic State University

Savannah, Ga.


“I save some money in the budget to use during the year if I hear of a piece that is working well for someone else or a new piano arrangement for the show choir.”

Dave Babcock

Victor Jr. High School

Victor, N.Y.


What will you do this summer to help prepare you for the new school year?


“In addition to looking at music, I update the library records, student account files, and other similar tasks over the summer.  I will also work on preliminary trip planning with the band director and booster club.”

Mary Nell Starner

Minersville Area Jr./Sr. High School

Minersville, Pa.


“I attend the summer regional ACDA Convention, study new and recommended scores, learn new computer programs, write accompaniments on GarageBand, and write some choral arrangements for my students.”

Martin Lassman

Cab Calloway School Of The Arts

Wilmington, Del.


“I do extensive internet research on music choices during the summer.  I also order music so that I am ready to begin singing when students arrive in August.  It brings energy and focus to the entire year to start immediately with studying good literature.”

Deanna Amend

La Cueva High School

Albuquerque, N.M.

Will you be running a vocal music camp for your students before the school year starts?

“Along with two other colleagues, I host a mini-camp to prepare select students for our state Honors Chorus.  I introduce the audition piece, discuss the composer, and introduce/review sight reading skills.”

Kenneth L. Morris

Eastern Way Middle School

Goldsboro, N.C.


“I used to do a vocal music camp before the school year starts, but due to the economy, funds have not been available.  Also, quite a few of my students are now also in marching band, which starts three weeks before school starts.”

Stan Scott

Central High School

Grand Junction, Colo.


“Actually, I try to prepare and send out one song to the advanced choir and jazz choir to get a jump on the year.  It’s a great way to start that first day back with a new song that the kids already know!”

Deborah Divine

Enterprise High School

Redding, Calif.


Do you already have student leadership in place for next year?


“I need to look at which students are able to continue. Since programming is done over the summer, I do not know what my final rosters will look like.”

Cynthia Gray

Benito Juarez Community

Chicago, Ill.


“I usually have student leaders in place at the end of the year. However, our school is undergoing a change in our daily schedule and it was not possible to finalize that before the end of the school year.”

Camille Blackburn

Hillcrest High School

Ammon, Idaho


“I select them in May prior to the school year and I also require them to take a leadership workshop in the beginning of the year.”

John Rose

Coral Reef High School

Miami, Fla.


 Do you anticipate funding to be a major hurdle next year?

“We have a very supportive Choral Booster organization in District 64 (five elementary and two middle schools).  Parents usually join and also make donations.  I use funds for music, field trips, and awards.”

Linda Thomas

Roosevelt Elementary School

Park Ridge, Ill.


“Here in California, funding has been a nightmare for the past few years. This year will be worse than those. I’m working on new ways of doing the ‘business of choir.’”

Clifford Badgley 

Reyburn Intermediate School

Clovis, Calif.


“Funding always is a hurdle.  Most of the time I don’t get to spend all my money because it is ‘borrowed’ by someone else whose order goes over budget.  Spring music isn’t purchased until winter or early spring.”

Barbara Connelly

Lunenburg School District

Gilman, Vt.


Will you be planning a major trip in 2011-2012?

“We just returned from a trip to Rome! Next year we are doing a performance and workshop at Disney World.”

Angie Jones

North Harford High School

Pylesville, Md.

“I am trying to just keep things going.  The school system will not allow me to fundraise, as all departments will need extra money from the community to stay even.”

Mary Richmiller

Cassville High School

Cassville, Mo.


“We plan to do a student tour in New York City, which will be primarily funded by the students.”

Jennifer Nafziger

Winfield Middle/High School

Winfield, Mo.


Additional thoughts?

“I am always trying to educate administrators (building and district level) about how a quality music program benefits them, their school, and their district, as well as how to think about staffing in a way that is beneficial to students and quality programs rather that what works on paper.”

Wendy Traeger

Wauwatosa East High School

Wauwatosa, Wis.


“I try not to figure out too far in advance what kind of voices I’ll have to work with. In September, I adjust.”

Andy Descoteaux

Lowell High School

Lowell, Mass.

“I’m always fighting conflicts with sporting events. I need to have the administration acknowledge value to the choral ‘team’ just as much as competitive sports.”

Patti Hayes Lauve

University Laboratory School, LSU

Baton Rouge, La.


“You need time to think and be creative.  You certainly need to be aware of where your ensemble’s strengths (and weaknesses) lie, not just for the coming year, but for the two or three years to follow, and plan for education and training accordingly.”

Leah Baskin

Rock Valley Children’s Choir & Montessori Learning Path

Rockford, Ill.

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