Seven Ways to Jump Start Your School Year

Every year we go through the same motions – planning auditions, making first day announcements, programming music. Here are a few ideas to start your choir’s new year in a higher gear!

1. Commission and program new music. Having music written just for them helps a choir to bond and creates a very special connection to the music. Plus, who knows whether you’ll be the one to commission the next Sing Me To Heaven!

2. Set goals for yourself. A few years ago for me, it was conduct entirely from memory. Last year it was to have rehearsals without lifting the piano lid. Whatever it is, consciously push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

3. Tell your students about those goals. If they know that you’re pushing yourself to be better, they’ll be inspired to do the same. Also, sharing your humanness with your students is a great way to connect with them. And it’s a great way to stay accountable to your goals… “Mr. Scott, I thought you weren’t going to use the piano so much!”

4. Be prepared to be flexible. When The Rockford Aces ended up with some unexpected down time in April and May last year, we didn’t slow down…I created a plan to record a studio album, initiated major fundraising, and was able to have a CD Release in June! It wasn’t in the plan in September, but I was ready to change direction when I had to.

5. Listen to something beautiful. Ideally, every day. But if you don’t have time, please take some time over the long Labor Day weekend to hear something exquisite. Maybe now is a good time to try out Spotify. Fully-on, focused listening can be a total game-changer for me in my day-to-day mood and in my ability to set immediate and long-term goals for my ensemble.

6. Read something that challenges your thinking. Right now I’m reading Choral Charisma by Tom Carter. As a big-I Introvert, I’m loath to share myself the way Tom asks me to…but I am challenged to try his ideas in the hope of becoming a better choral educator. If they don’t work forr me, I’m ready to try something else…but right now I’m excited to try!

7. Inbox to Zero. Archive what you need…delete what you don’t. Be ruthless and quick. Starting with a clear email inbox will help you get through the digital and back into the musical for the rest of the year. Leo Babauta’s ZenHabits.net has lots more great ideas on email maintenance and much more. If you aren’t following this blog, start now.

I’m so excited to get back into the groove next week! Good luck as your own year starts.

What are you doing to jump start this school year? Use the comments below to share your thoughts!

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