September 23, 2014

It’s a quiet Tuesday here at Ridge. Here’s what’s has happened this week…

  • I have distributed school-owned Performance Apparel to my auditioned A Cappella Choir (black gowns, tuxes, cummerbunds, bow ties, suspenders and pocket squares – red! Guys are responsible for purchasing a tux shirt. Girls wear black knee-hi’s and black shoes).
  • We have Back-to-School Night (one of two) tonight. My hand-outs are ready.
  • I have placed an order for the Male and Female Voicings of Carmina Burana as the A Cappella Choir has agreed to join forces with the Westfield Symphony to perform it in May (additional choirs have also been invited).
  • I am almost ready to post the monthly Birthday lists. (I have a Happy Birthday poster on the inside of the classroom door and I post a list of student birthdays by month). I used to distribute Happy Birthday pencils with lollipops but when I found a few of them on the floor after class, I got the hint.
  • I have completed my Student Database from the Day One Info Form. When the kids submit to my Google Doc via the tinyurl, it makes the process quite simple.
  • I have finished and submitted my Emergency Lesson plans for the Main Office.
  • Choir t-shirts have been ordered for all the new additions to the program.
  • Our Choir Festival (Choralpalooza) is scheduled (October 21st). Five area schools are invited. Clinician has been chosen and accepted (Chris Thomas from Rowan University). Afternoon all-sing selections have been chosen (Philip Phillips’ Home – all the guys from every school will sing with guitars a-strummin’ and Wilhousky’s Battle Hymn as the closer for the day.) The morning will be filled with every school getting a 25-minute time block to perform no more than two pieces and then receive an on-stage clinic and written comments from the other Directors in the room. Lunch for the Director’s is pre-ordered from the local deli and is on Ridge. All kids bring a brown bag lunch and Ridge kids bring in one dozen cookies, cupcakes or brownies for the lunchtime dessert bar – 40 feet of sugar…3/$.25!

Hope your week is going well.


Friday September 19, 2014

Today we ran the voting for our Choir Officers. I created a multiple choice Google Doc as a ballot and the students came up to my iPad Air in a single file line to cast their votes and “Submit”. The results were ready to announce immediately.

Way to use technology in the classroom!

So…at the end of this second full week of school, the Choir Sectional Class lists are almost ready to submit to Guidance to place on schedules, the Choir T-Shirts are now ordered (a simple forest green 50/50 t-shirt with a logo we’ve had forever – see below), Field trip forms have been submitted for approval for our December Caroling gigs, there are grades online for each class and the EXCEL database of all student info is nearly finished.

I have volunteered (again) to sell tickets in the booth for tonight’s football game and the calendar blocks for the weekend are completely empty.

Hope you enjoy yours!



Thursday September 18, 2014

MY CHOIR ROOM: In the sixth renovation of Ridge High School, I got a choir room…a ginormous choir room – I can fit nine sets of 4-step Wenger risers in the room…we stand during rehearsals. (see photos below). I affectionately refer it is as my “palace”. (We also got a 1000-seat performing arts center in that renovation!) My room is air-conditioned, which makes me quite popular in June. When it’s too cold in the room, I have (superhero) snuggies for my kids to use. I have a Brita water pitcher for them. I have a vast assortment of Bath & Body Works hand soaps at the sink and wonderful smelling hand sanitizers on the folder cabinet. I have a Wenger sound proof room with an upright piano, a Baldwin baby grand and a Yamaha Upright in the room and a clavinova in the back room. I have two computers for student use. I have a 4 x 8 table in the room where kids can have lunch. If you are in the Choral Program, you have access to all of this. If you think you are going to bring in your non-choral friends from lunch, you quickly learn they have two choices…join or leave. It’s a terrific recruiting tool!

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 18, 2014: Today we will hear the speeches of those who are running for Vice President and President of the choir. One of my juniors just came in to ask permission to perform his speech to a karaoke version of “Stacy’s Mom”. As I do not have the slightest sense of current music, I asked if the lyrics were dirty. “Well, we’re not singing the lyrics”, he replied. Is the subject matter of the song inappropriate? (I hadn’t yet searched it online and the answer is yes!). As he is the Varsity Quarterback, he stammered and I immediately knew I was heading toward possible trouble. So, I said, “Duncan, if you have to ask permission, you ALREADY know you shouldn’t use it!” So, just rap your speech without music, just to be on the safe side”.

Kids are funny, aren’t they?


choir room w-risers risers 2

September 14, 2014

The week came to a close with QR codes (for attendance) on the choir’s new iPad Air for all singers and music in every folder, Choir Sectional classes created – set to start on Monday and the first roster to Guidance for the scheduling of the Monday night A Cappella Choir Honors.  I usually get a few more singers when the Lunch/Study Sectionals begin as kids don’t want to be left in the cafeteria or noisy study hall if their friends are heading to Sectionals!

Next week will bring nominations for Choir Officers, campaigning in the choir room (which usually means posters and baked goods being distributed to influence voting – being mindful of the million and one allergies kids seem to have these days) and then the actual voting – using the iPad Air for student input and quick results.

I hope your first few days were equally productive!


Sunday September 7, 2014 – Lesson Plans

Ridge HS is a Danielson School. Last year, I decided to put the Four Domains in my lesson plans with a brief supporting statement for each descriptor. I already had the 21st century Learning headers listed…Goals, Learning Activities, Differentiation, Resources and Assessments.

So, as it is my goal to blog about all I do and have done…here are the actual plans I submitted this weekend. If they are helpful, please feel free to use them.

 A CAPPELLA CHOIR – Sept-Dec 2014




As a follow-up, our A Cappella Choir retreat on Friday night was a huge success. This event gives me a chance to state my expectations – not only musically, but personally, for each singer.  These students are the core of my program and they are responsible for setting the tone in all rehearsals and sectional classes. Morals and manners, honesty and trust, responsibility for all choices they make throughout the year. These values contribute to the overall success of each school year.

The retreat activities were also a big hit…THE TOP TEN REASONS WHY CHOIR IS MORE IMPORTANT THAT YOUR CELLPHONE was a hoot…some of the reasons

  • Choir never runs out of batteries
  • You can’t text and drive but you CAN sing and drive!
  • No wi-fi necessary
  • Music is free…cell service is not
  • You can lose connection with your phone, but you can’t lose connections in your choir family!

And the A-Z descriptors   WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF BEING IN CHOIR? were awesome! All in all, it was a terrific night!

So, the week will bring more individual voice testing to create Sectional classes and the first A Cappella Choir rehearsal.


Have a great week!

Thanks for reading!



September 4, 2014 – The First Day of School

The first day of school has officially ended and we all survived. My focus today was getting info out to the ensemble classes and in return, collecting info from them so as to create lunch-time Choir Sectionals.

I am also organizing my select choir’s retreat which is tomorrow night. I have attached my game plan for those of you who are interested. I am most looking forward to the activity which is called TOP TEN REASONS WHY CHOIR IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR CELLPHONE!

I hope your day ran without event.





September 1, 2014

Tomorrow we will start a new school year with two days of In-Service.  The kids start on Thursday. 

I have attached three documents to this post.  The first are the actual notes from which I read on the first day of school.  The second is a poem I read every year called TEN LITTLE CHOIR MEMBERS.  The third is a NEW cellphone permission form.  If you find them helpful, please use them.

I will distribute a syllabus for the two ensemble classes, an info sheet which will be completed by hand and then completed online via a Google Spreadsheet and the NEW cellphone permission form.  It seems we now have a policy which prohibits teacher/student contact via cellphone or email unless we receive written permission from parents/guardians.  We are also prohibited from contacting students, once permission is received, via personal email accounts.  All correspondence is now to be done on school email addresses.  What have we come to?

I have planned a retreat for my select A Cappella Choir for Friday night.  Section Leaders will arrive at 4:30 to help plan activities (icebreakers) and the choir will arrive at 6p and leave at 11p with a pizza delivery at 9p.  We will convene at the meeting hall of the local Senior Center who lends this room, complete with kitchen access, to us for free.  It is close to school but not AT school!

I hope you have a smooth and anxiety-free start to your school year.


cell phone use permission slip

Ten Little Choir Members

First Day of School Sept 2014