A Letter from Mrs. Kluch
Regarding Audition Results
Dear Choir Parents
On Thursday, March 17th, the choir list for 2016-2017 will be posted to the Horizon Choirs website at 5 pm. This is always a very exciting day for some students, and a very difficult day for others. It also tends to be the same emotional roller coaster for parents. I just want to remind all of you that Horizon’s Choir Program is one of the largest, and therefore most competitive, programs in the entire state. It is particularly competitive for girls. Many girls dream of making it into Towne Criers or Step on Stage, and some never will. This year, there are only about 20 spots for girls in Step on Stage and only about 30 for girls in Towne Criers. There are over 250 girls in the choir program, so you can see that the odds are not in their favor.
Please know that I have to base placements in the various choirs off of the student’s performance in their audition. If I start to base placement off of anything else, we are setting up the program for extreme favoritism and an eventual lowering of the overall quality of the groups. I cannot just pick the “nice kids” who volunteer to help and who have parents involved in ACCENTS. This would be completely unfair and goes against everything that I stand for as a teacher. Seniority is accounted for in their scores giving students one point per year they have been in the HHS choir program but those few points do not always make a difference. The audition process is complex and includes many components. Of course, students have to sing well and in tune, but beyond that they must show excellent musicianship skills in rhythmic and melodic sight-reading and in tonal memory. For the show choirs, they must also have a fantastic dance audition. I have many students who sing beautifully, but struggle with these other parts of the audition process and those lower scores cause them to not make those upper level groups. I also have many students who are fabulous dancers, but are still struggling with their vocal quality and therefore do not make the show choirs. This year more than ever, it is important that students grasp the weight I am placing on their musical knowledge in addition to their singing ability.
Students get very nervous in the one on one audition and sometimes, unfortunately, do not sing or sight-read to the best of their ability. Although this is always disappointing when it happens, I cannot just boost their score based upon what I see each day in class. If I did that, what would be the point of auditioning at all? Part of being ready for the highest-level ensembles at Horizon is being able to make it through the audition process and conquer those nerves.
Please know that as a choral director, the students’ proper placement and positive experience is at the very heart of every decision that I make. It is so important that students are placed in an ensemble that is the right level for them. They need to feel comfortable and like they are contributing. They also need to be challenged to continue to grow. If I place them in an ensemble that they are not ready for, they will realize very quickly that everyone around them is stronger, and they will feel out of place and discouraged. This is a terrible position to put a student in. If I place them in an ensemble that is too far below their level, they won’t feel challenged and will not continue to improve musically. You would never put a student who struggles with addition and subtraction into a calculus class, or a weak student lacking physical coordination on the varsity basketball team. Our choir placements are similar. Just because a student “wants” to be in a certain group, does not mean it’s the best place for them to be, or that they are ready to be there.
I realize there will be some broken hearts this week and I know it will be a difficult week for me as well. I ask you as parents to use this as an opportunity to help your sons and daughters find perspective. Discuss with them the positives of continuing to work towards goals. Try to help them see the ways that they can step into leadership in whichever ensemble they are in. Try to remind them that they joined choir because they have a passion for music and performing, and no matter what group they are in, they will still have that opportunity. In addition, please be cognizant of the digitally charged world we now live in. Braggadocious posts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram are inappropriate for students and parents. Please be considerate and refrain from sharing any results or commentary on the results on social media.
I will be available at lunch and after school the week after spring break to meet with students and discuss their audition results. I will tell them what they struggled with and what they still need to work on. I will not answer any emails or text messages about choir placements received during Spring Break. I would prefer to speak directly with the students about their audition results, as opposed to parents. Since this was a one on one audition between the students and teachers, I believe the students will truly be the only ones who can think back on their audition and understand the critique. I also think we need to challenge students to be mature and to handle this evaluation on their own, as young adults. Their own self-evaluation is another step in the learning process of how they still need to grow. If after that discussion parents still have remaining concerns, you can feel free to contact me via e-mail.
If your child is placed into one of the four upper choirs, please remember that you have committed to one of two meetings to learn all about the choir program. We will be sending you a reminder email about the meeting shortly after spring break. If you are an incoming freshman, I highly recommend that you begin to receive our emails. These emails will contain information about next years choir program.
Thank you for your trust in me as a teacher and thank you for your support for the program.