“Fox C-6 Schools All-District Elementary Choir”
Fox C-6 All-District Elementary Choir
The mission of the Fox C-6 School District is to motivate and inspire success to build a foundation for life-long learning through achievement, character, and excellence. The vision of the Fox C-6 All-District Elementary Choir is to host an annual event featuring student representatives and music teachers from each of the eleven elementary schools. Held in recognition of March as National Music In Our Schools Month, it provides the opportunity to showcase student talent through a musical enrichment experience culminating in a performance.
This all-district elementary choir concert will featured twelve student representatives from each of the eleven Fox C-6 School District elementary school and their elementary music teachers. This concert featured a guest clinician to lead the event and serve as a professional development opportunity for the elementary music teachers. This concert also featured a guest composer local to Missouri to help students to learn about the music composition process, respecting copyright, and for a real world life connection. This concert featured the collective musical talents of the elementary music team through live music instrumental accompaniment. Student instrumental talent was featured through utilizing Orff instrumental accompaniment. Admission to the concert was a canned or boxed food item that benefited the local food pantry in partnership with the high school Tri-M Music Honor Society chapters to raise awareness for food insecurity in the community.
The target audience for the advocacy initiative of the all-district elementary choir initiative were students in the upper elementary fourth and fifth grades and their elementary music teachers. These upper elementary students were the focus of the initiative to give a music enrichment or honor choir experience to help encourage students to be lifelong musicians and spark interest in continuing music education in the secondary schools.
The overall timeline of the advocacy initiation includes collaborative planning with the opportunity for community members to raise their voices through purposeful feedback from teachers, parents, administrators, and students from the past event a year prior to the event. Feedback includes reflection on what worked well, what did not work well, or suggestions for improvement. Feedback is then utilized for planning for the next years’ event. The timeline includes having conversations with auditorium managers for scheduling dates and equipment a year in advance and throughout the year for updates. A guest conductor was invited 8 months prior to the event and gave suggestions for the music. The was done to allow time to obtain copyright permission to use their musical composition for the performance. Grants are written to secure music and instruments between 6 months-1 year prior to the event. Music was ordered 6 months prior to the event. Students are auditioned and invited by their teachers 3-6 months prior to the event. Rehearsals begin 3-4 months prior to the event.
Overview of Planning and Execution
It truly takes a village to raise a child. Many persons actively participated in the planning and execution of the advocacy initiative. The elementary music teacher content leader served as the lead director of the event to coordinate all services. The elementary music teacher team was highly involved in the planning and rehearsals to prepare for the public music performance. The administrators were involved by constantly serving as a a support to help secure resources, student services, financial support and facilities. The auditorium manager was highly involved in coordinating stage hands to operate theater facility and for planning minute-to-minute logistics for the day of the event. The local police and school security team was involved in planning security details for the event. The school communications officer helped to coordinate media releases. The local tri-m music high school honor societies were involved in the execution of the event providing volunteer service hours. The local pizza store was involved in the planning and execution of serving pizza lunch for the students and teachers at the event. A national music store was involved by coordinating music instrument, octavo orders. Copyright permissions were secured from publishing companies. A local t-shirt company helped to design the tshirt and gave a huge discount on the tshirt price for the students. The local education foundation helped with advocacy and financial support to give a grant to purchase music and instruments. Parents who were also local university music professors helped by mentoring music literature selections and giving copyright advice. A local food panty was involved by identifying local community food needs and by transporting the donated goods to the food pantry after the event. District nurses were involved planning for medical service or food needs for students and teachers for the event.
Tools and Resources
For the advocacy initiative, research was conducted reaching out to neighboring school districts with successful music programs to find out how they structured their events. Many organizations were contacted (NAfME, ACDA, Missouri Music Educators Association, Missouri Alliance For Arts Education, and Hal Leonard Publishing) for guidance on performance structure and choral literature. A representative from the St. Louis Children’s Choir and Crescendo Youth Choirs, local private youth choirs, served as mentors to help with advice for music literature selection, structuring rehearsals, or finding music literature resources. The district curriculum coordinator, the district professional development director, and the district elementary assistant superintendent served as mentors to guide the elementary music teachers through the process.
Marketing and Promotion
To market and promote the advocacy initiative, a marketing kit of a social media tile JPEG, a PDF printable flyer, and a written statement was created with district resources of Canva and Google Tools and then shared with teachers, school administrators, and the local media to help advertise the event in the school community for ease of access and sharable communication. Teachers, administrators, and families were encouraged to share the PDFs and social media tiles to help share the information about the event. The school district posted information on the district website and social media to advertise the event and document the event. Sharing the event information helped make the day easy to access for the students and families.
For the elementary music teachers and students, a teacher/administrator logistics master document was created to house all information and a music website with private password was created for music teachers and students only to access that contained practice tracks for the music. Practice tracks were made after securing appropriate copyright permissions from multiple publishers and composers.
For the advocacy initiative, many expenditures were needed for the large-scale district-wide event. Facility rental fees were needed for the large performance venue. The assistant auditorium manager and 12 stage hand salaries were paid at hourly minimum wage rates for a ten hour day of work. A group pizza order was secured from the lowest bid of three vendors at several hundred dollars to feed 150 persons. Two grants were secured for approximately $5,500 for music literature and music orff instruments. A district-wide site license to MusicPlay Online was purchased for approximately $1800 to be used to support the music curriculum during the school year for all 11 music teachers and every elementary music student in all school buildings as well as to provide music for the all-district choir. Tshirts were purchased for every performing student and music teacher at $9-12 per t-shirt. Additional expenses for copyright fees for publishers or miscellaneous supplies such as nametags, water bottles, hand sanitizer, snacks, and 145 copies of an octavo were generously supplied by an anonymous donor.
Many challenges were encountered during the advocacy initiative that were mitigated through communications, conversations, strategic planning, and innovative problem solving. Securing finances to purchase expensive copyrighted music was challenging and was mitigated through grant writing, finding literature from an already purchased online digital resource, utilizing a free music song from NAfME in celebration of national music in our schools month, and securing permission from a local composer to highlight their work in exchange for free permission to use their copyrighted work for the performance. Medical challenges were met by meeting with appropriate district administrators to provide services for teachers and students with medical needs on the day of the event outside of the contractual school day. Securing resources from the lowest of three competitive bids was a conscious effort to save the district money.
The event was well-attended with student representatives from each of the 11 schools in our school district. This program has been an annual event for over 25 years, with the exception of a one-year hiatus in 2021 during COVID school closures. The data that would support the effectiveness would be the number of students who continue to be lifelong music makers throughout secondary school and post-secondary school experiences.
The advocacy initiative has positively impacted our school music program by being recognized by the NAMM Foundation as a “Best Community For Music Education” for multiple years, by the student and family continued involvement in the music programs, and by the local community outreach and support.
Advice for others?
The best advice I would give to someone looking to replicate this project in their own community is to do what is best for kids, to do whatever it takes to give the kids a memorable experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Digital Program: http://bit.ly/All-DistrictElementaryChoir2023
School District Social Media Post: https://www.facebook.com/profile/100064090531076/search/?q=all%20district%20elementary%20choir