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Scheduling Ideas

I have 2 periods of 6th grade, 2 periods of 7th grade, and 2 periods of 8th grade chorus.  All groups are unauditioned.  I have gotten to the point where I can exclude students who don't want to be there (won't sing, have atrocious behavior, etc.), so that's a great thing.  I would, however, love to have an auditioned group with which to do more challenging music.  Any ideas that I could pass along to my administration?  I'd also like to be able to offer chorus to the band students, but right now that's not an option either.  Just checking to see if anyone has any creative scheduling ideas.
on May 27, 2014 10:08am
I don't know how scheduling works at the middle school level, but for 12 years, in 3 elementary schools, I have made time for various select music groups during lunch.  At the schools I've worked at, the cafeterias are small and lunch has always been served in multiple seatings, every 20 minutes.  Following their 20 minute lunch, the kids have 20 minutes on the playground.  This allows me to arrange various combinations of:  lunch recess rehearsals; getting my musicians released from lunch 5 minutes early, so we have a 25 minute lunch recess rehearsal; giving them passes to go to the head of the lunch line so they can eat sooner (I give them specific instructions on how to courteously cut into line and explain to all students during regular music classes why this is necessary); switching lunch periods; and reversing the 20 minute lunch and recess periods.  The principals have all supported this, and the cafeteria staff was happy to help as long as they were consulted first and knew what to expect.  In effect, I've been given control of this chunk of time in the middle of the day--to some extent-- and can manipulate it to meet my needs.
 
20-25 mintues is frustratingly short, but with proper organization, from the moment they come through the door, much can be accomplished.  I always set these rehearsals up for M-W-F  or  T-TH, and most days have two successive rehearsals, one during 3rd and 4th grade lunch and one during 5th and 6th.  That works out to four extra performing groups, beyond my regular music classes and whatever regular choir period may (or may not) be scheduled. 
 
I also have rehearsals after school most days, but my groups are small and motivated, with 15 students at most.  Even so, 2/3 participation after-school is typical.  In one district, we had late buses, which were put in place to facilitate participation in sports, remedial work, and other after-school programs.  That was a tremendous help!  I've read of a couple of teachers who schedule rehearsals before school (as early as 6 am in one inner city), but that has not worked for me.
 
When I say "select groups", I mean that at the elementary level, students select themselves by their interest, motivation, and good rehearsal behavior.  Ability is never a criterion, though some students have to sit out on some pieces if they can't perform their parts yet.
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