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Regular Rehearsal Attendance Issues

I'm a community volunteer at a high school at the moment while I wait for a full-time teaching position.  I find that my students don't feel the necessity of attending every week and numbers will change drastically each week (I have had 10 one week and 20 the very next week) which makes it difficult to have a beneficial rehearsal as I'm constantly going over old points for those that missed last week.  I'm not their regular music teacher, and I'm also new there and look young (which I am) and they don't seem to view me as a viable music teacher.  They also feel that they're too good and don't need to attend or even go home and practice, but then they have trouble at rehearsal because they haven't.  How do I instill in them the importance of attending every rehearsal without sounding like the big bad wolf?  
on December 12, 2015 3:07pm
Ahh, the joys of high schoolers!
From a similarly young person, here are some thoughts.. Things I do, and advice I've been given.

Keep a roll, every week. Know who the regulars are and reward them. Having random reward days (lollies or some little gift or something. eg. for 80% attendance by week 5) can keep them guessing and on their toes - keeping you in control of the situation and establishing you as the leader. Having regular reward events would be effective too - say, if you attend 8 out of 9 rehearsals in the term, we get a pizza party on the last week, or those people get to have a games rehearsal session. If you miss more then you're not invited.
Thes things can be helped with clear boundaries, and clear expectations. Might be worth spending 5 minutes one session getting their expectations of you (brainstorm, then have them narrow it down to 3) then you setting 3 top expectations for them..
I don't expect my students in choir to practice at home - I've changed my rehearsal process from a professional mindset to education mindset, realising that my choir is tha first musical experience for some singers, so they don't actually know how to go home and practice! This is part of what I communicate ata rehearsal.. how to go and learn at home..
I think there is value (in the context of a long relationship with an ensemble) in setting an expectation, of lyric memorisation for example, for a performance. If they don't work on it, and they don't know what they are doing on the day then the conversation that can follow is invaluable. Again, open discussion and brainstorming from them is best.

Ooh - I wonder if instead of repeating yourself about old points for the slackers, perhaps you could have the students do this to each other. For this age group, peer pressure & comraderie is far more important and effective than anything you can do. It's a compliment to the good ones, and a bit of a jab for the missing.
Might be worth looking around the internet for substitute teacher's blogs or forums.. these are attitudes they deal with everyday. also "In the middle with mr D" has some helpful blog posts on attendance, and finally, make sure y'all having fun!! If you don't enjoy it, they won't, if they don't enjoy it, they won't come.

I'm 24 and take a choir of 50 high school girls in Aus. All the best with your choir!! :)
Applauded by an audience of 3
on December 12, 2015 3:37pm
Just discovered this: Looks erally good. Thought you might be interested..
Applauded by an audience of 2
on December 13, 2015 3:14pm
Whoeheartedly "second" Stephanie's suggestions and doing what Tom Carter suggests in Choral Charisma!
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