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How to 'punish' a performer who yells out during a performance

Hello all.  I'm looking for a bit of advice.  I had my middle school choir concert last week and at the end of our last song a girl yelled a phrase out simply because she loves attention.  Now, we share our concert with the band for a total of about 250 performers and our 750 capacity auditorium was standing room only...I am giving this information because if it was more like a small elementary day time (no offense, I did that for 10 years) concert I don't think it would be as big a deal.  I give the students a test grade for the concert; wearing proper attire, professionalism, performance, etc.  To be honest, they usually all get 100's.  I'm not sure how many points to take off for this girl.  Many students and parents commented about how rude it was so I know that everyone heard it and saw her jump and point.  I was thinking 10 points off, but sometimes I think that's too much and on the other hand it may not be enough with how innappropriate it was, what would you do??
Replies (45): Threaded | Chronological
on December 23, 2015 3:58am
I think giving her a 90 is WAY too generous. Maybe a 60. More importantly, it's important to address these issues with the entire group as well as the girl's parents. However, if she is on an IEPfor behavior, you would need to reconsider and discuss it with her SPED teacher. BTW, I teach elementary school and would not let it go.
Applauded by an audience of 7
on December 23, 2015 5:22am
Did she participate in all the singing? If so, then perhaps her grade should not be lowered. I feel like that might set off her parents. Was there any conversation with them? How does your school building handle disruptive behaviors? Are there detention times available as a consequence for inappropriate behaviors? Is your choir scheduled to do anything special, field trip, party? She definitely should not be included in anything like that since she cannot or will not comply with performance practices. Would you consider leaving her out of the next concert and assigning a report instead? Will your administration be helpful and supportive or are you on your own?
Applauded by an audience of 2
on December 23, 2015 6:11am
Have you thought about sitting down with her discussing why it was inappropriate and explain why she won't be getting the perfect score everyone else will? It would definitely be a "conference" moment for me. I have to say- I'm a high school teacher, and have been for about fifteen years. I just moved to a combined middle and high school and will have the Jr high chorus for the very first time this year. Last year the gentleman who had the Jr high schoolers didn't have them sing any kind of harmony, they screamed pop songs for fifteen minutes,  and I've been told that kids talked and used phones on the risers during the concert. I've got some attention seekers and I'm TERRIFIED this will happen to me at my concert in January.
 
That's why I'm coming down this way- ten points off is STILL AN A. And I think behavior like this during a concert is at best B behavior. I think a sit down with the student, possibly with the parents in attendance, explaining proper concert deportment, is absolutely in order. If the student had yelled something inappropriate then at best it would be C behavior. 
Applauded by an audience of 4
on December 23, 2015 6:35am
Hi Dawn,
 
Establishing a culture of professionalism and community takes time and care. Regardless of how you choose to handle the grade (IMHO, -10 is hardly a penalty at all), I would think you'd want to have a conversation with the student and a parent. We all handle adrenaline differently, but what this student did had a negative impact on all of the other students, and she needs to hear that. If I were her teacher, I would need to have an assurance from her, in the presence of her parent, that there would never be another incident like this one.
Applauded by an audience of 4
on December 23, 2015 7:00am
Hi Dawn,
Whatever you decide to do, make sure her parents are aware of the consequences, so they can't say they were unaware of a problem should their child get a poor grade.  Were they at the concert? Did they witness the bad behavior? Personally, I would tell her that as of now, her grade is (whatever you choose) and ask her how she might be able to make it up.  She needs to understand that in a concert, it is about the group, not her.  I would say that this is not only rude, it is immature. Hopefully she will get the message. 
Valerie Crescenz
Applauded by an audience of 2
on December 23, 2015 8:42am
Uggh - I'm sorry that you have to deal with this.
 
My advice will not necessarily help you for this particular situation, but it can help you for the future.
 
I would put together a scoring rubric for these performances that you share with the students in advance. You could allot points for musicianship, preparation, professionalism, etc. in whatever weights you deem appropriate. You could weight it in such a way that if a student misbehaved, they could potentially fail - in other words, you could set "professionalism" at 50 points - if they lost those 50 points, they would have an "F". Along with the rubric you would want to include descripters, so that the students were absolutely clear on what constitutes "professionalism". I have a student handbook that all the choir members recieve that includes information on dress code, appropriate behaviors, etc., as well as the calendar, choir contract, media releases, field trip waivers and so on - this is where I would include the rubric.
 
I think at this point I would advise that you do very little in terms of punitive grading this particular incident unless you had clearly laid out in writing for the students how they would be graded (you haven't said, so I don't know). However, I agree with the advice earlier in this forum that you must have a discussion with this student and probably a parent about the unacceptability of this behavior, and how things will be handled in the future. 
 
Good luck,
 
Liz
Applauded by an audience of 4
on December 23, 2015 8:52am
I agree that firstly, the issue needs to be addressed strongly with the student and her parents.
 
Performance etiquette for me is a standard that has its own grade.  Since a 70 is generally accepted as having shown mastery of a concept in any given subject matter, her grade for me would need to be below a 70.  If that was her only 'infraction', I would probably mark it as a 60, but going forward, a rubric would be helpful so that you can show students ahead of time how such behavior would affect their grade.  I would also attach a consequence going forward of possibly not being allowed to participate *or attend* the next concert for infractions that affect all other students in such an inconsiderate manner.  To replace the major grade of a concert, the student would be given a report to do related to the content of the concert.
 
Again, severe consequences need to have a lot of lead time and regular reminders of the possible consequences for poor choices that affect others.  I would not implement these for what the girl has already done.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 23, 2015 1:24pm
     Before you do anything, talk with your building principal. You want to make sure there is a clear understanding between the two of you, and that you have support. You do not want to be derailed when the parents decide to go over your head to the administration.
 
I'm not sure about taking points off a grade. Is the grade based on behavior or performance? Did she sing well? I can see the argument for concert etiquette is part of performance, but it feels like a sticking point to me.
 
Also, think of consequence vs punishment. Consequence implies that what happens to the student is a direct result of the choices she made. Punishment implies a revenge-type approach. Even if they turn out the same, the approach can make a big difference.
 
Consequence (Spoken kindly, with empathy)
"You caused distress for a lot of people with your lack of self-control at the last performance. A lot of the kids who laughed didn't think it was funny. They were embarrassed, so they laughed. Somehow you'll need to think of a way to make it right again. I'm not trying to crush your spirit, but I am interested in making it right for all the others. Let me know what ideas you have for that. 
Also, you'll completely understand that you can't be allowed to participate in X, because of that demonstrated lack of self-control. Before Y, you'll need to demonstrate ongoing self-control. Let me know what ideas you come up with to show you can manage your behavior in a variety of settings. We can talk about it tomorrow."
The X might be another choir event, or even something as simple as sitting away from everyone else during rehearsal. The idea is to put the burden on the student for the retribution. The next day, if she comes up with the shrugging-shoulders-I-dunno response, you can ask the other students in the choir for ideas. Stress to them it's about fixing the problem, not embarrassing her. Ask her which of ideas the choir generated would be most helpful to her growth. 
 
This is based on Love and Logic, btw. With this approach the other kids in the choir know that 1) you will do something about a problem, and 2) you will treat everyone with dignity no matter what happened. It will go a long way in building loyalty in your group.
 
Punishment (spoken sternly)
"You did xxxx, and now I'm going to do yyyy to you."  Even more gently worded, it sets up an escalating situation.
 
Hmm, this turned out to be much longer than I anticipated. I'd better stop while I can.
Good luck to you,
Susan
Applauded by an audience of 5
on December 23, 2015 4:19pm
Had I been in that audience, I would have given you a standing ovation if you had taken the girl by the hand immediately after her embarrassing and disrespectful outburst, led her off stage and told her to stay put and not make one more sound, then come back on stage by yourself to acknowledge your choir and the band, and take a bow.
 
Applauded by an audience of 3
on December 24, 2015 4:40am
Wow - grades for singing? Shaming this girl? That will make her into one of the many adults who believe they can't sing, due to early experiences. My choirs are full of them.
I would give that girl a solo and work with her so that she does the best job she can do, and in the process, learns what is involved in working toward performance and also, the importance of the whole group and her part in that. 
on December 24, 2015 6:08am
All of these suggestions posted have at least some merit.
I wonder how many of us, deep down, realize that Susan's suggestion here, apparently based on the book, "Disciplining with Love and Logic" is likely the best way, no matter which aspect of the situation ( the negative publicity, our own feelings, the student's growth, parent/administration ) is receiving the focus at any given moment.
I must confess that, at the same time, there is a [false ?!?] sense of satisfaction when reading Julia Laylander's post below.
(Though I don't recall anyone yelling out, I did have to respond to issues of lateness, attire, giggling, etc.). Some children -even 18-year-old "children", and/or adults - just have not been definitely taught what is appropriate.  Others have, and try to test the situation anyway.
We all have to decide; in our concerts, classrooms, etc.:  Who is this about; the students, or us?
Society sometimes sends messages that we are to show dramatic authority, but, as Susan so astutely describes, it only motivates revenge, and may spread in the choral/school community.
We all have to design workable routines and rubrics in our syllabus that specify consequences.  This can be tricky, as we cannot totally predict what children will do.
i have seen this book, "Disciplining with Love and Logic" highly recommended in past Choralnet forums where teachers were seeking advice on disciplining their class.  I considered reading it, but didn't.  Now I plan to.
I wonder whether this "look inside yourself/ internal control" philosophy would help our crazed shooters, our radicalized terrorists [from any philosophy/ culture], etc.... Or would have, had they been responded to in that way when they were pre-schoolers.
 Maybe we need to start this with our children when they are 3.
Susan, thank you for sharing.  No, your post is not too long. Anything that has that good a chance to foster better-ness is completely valuable.
Dawn Emerman, hats off to you for working with one of the most challenging age groups, and for coming to this great forum.  You have much good advice here, which I hope works for you.
Best Wishes, 
Lucy
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 24, 2015 6:46am
I would be surprised if any middle school student would care enough about their grades to change behavior that gets them noticed by their peers. That said, dock her grade to at least a B. Natural consequence.I would suggest telling this student and her family that if she does this again, she will immediately need to leave the group and sit down with her parents in the audience. On the night of the next concert, I might consider telling everyone that they would have that consequence if they were loud and rude, too.
Applauded by an audience of 4
on December 24, 2015 9:52am
Oh my goodness, YES, at the very least!
 
on December 24, 2015 10:18am
I responded to the original post only as a mom, grandma, and hypothetical audience member.  I would argue, Lucy, that your "sense of satisfaction" is not false at all.  When did "discipline" become a dirty word in education?  When did "taking points off" become a substitute for immediate, effective, measured, face-to-face responses to bad behavior?  When did badly-behaving students become fragile flowers and delicate snowflakes whose lack of self discipline is allowed to negatively impact others, over and over again?  Why are teachers expected to be substitute parents?
 
Escorting the girl immediately off the stage would have deprived her of attention and audience applause directed to the rest of the performers, the opposite of what the girl would desire, and would also have communicated that the teacher--not the misbehaving student--is in charge.  No need for a post-concert discussion; the teacher's quick action alone would have taught the girl that her behavior was unacceptable and would not be tolerated.  Lesson learned.   
 
I feel enormously sorry for teachers these days.  No wonder so many new ones don't last more than five years in the profession.
 
Applauded by an audience of 5
on December 24, 2015 10:32am
I'm interested that the student 'yelled out during a performance'. Was it actually when the choir was singing?  If so, then she's guilty of spoiling a creation of art.  Its a bit like purposely kicking a ball way out of field in a ball game, or graffitiing a piece of visual art.  It spoils the creation that everyone else is striving towards.
 
I think that youre in a hard position if your grading scheme does not specify that grades are awarded based on singing, attendance and deportment etc.  
 
Rather than adjust her grade down for this, I think it merits a one-on-one talk about the expectations of a public performance (she may not understand the standards expected) and a talk to the whole group at the start of the next rehearsal and just before the next concert.  From that point on you may be able to consider garde adjustments for infractions of the concert etiquette standards you've set.
 
My church staff complained recently about the use of cell phone cameras during Masses.  When I pointed out that Cardinals and Bishops were seen doing this during the most sacred parts of the Papal Masses in Washington DC earlier this year, they backed down a little.  But it doesn't remove the onus for us to be the setters of style and maintaniners of concert etiquette.  Its part of our job to help our students to learn about this as well.
 
Simon Berry.  San Francisco, CA
 
 
on December 25, 2015 7:48am
For what it's worth, I'm glad I'm fully retired!   As I approached retirement, and despite having had many absolutely WONDERFUL students many of whom have gone on to be WONDERFUL adult contributors to society (some even as musicians!) each year I noticed the «Entitlement Syndrome» affect more and more students.  Commercial media and «Social Media» with their unbridled display of self-absorbed «vedettes», and unprecedented opportunity to «flaunt one's self» is producing a SICK attitude of «IT'S ALL ABOUT ME».   I would (since spearing her by flinging my baton might seem a little over the top) give that little brat a grade so LOW she'd never forget!    Perhaps, SUSPENSION for a semester would be appropriate.  As for those who wrote in about being careful to ensure this «spoiler» wasn't on some kid-glove treatment regimen, I make the case that with rare exception those kinds of programs, which selectively, (and I would venture OFTEN UNFAIRLY) «powder the derrières» of miscreants, as often as not are the CAUSE of much of the in crease of anti-social behaviour we are suffering, and they are a huge disincentive to the decent, hardworking kids who end up asking themselves: «why bother?».    
 
Sorry to sound so negative, but as a few others have noted, YOU HAVE TO NIP IN THE BUD this kind of unacceptable behaviour.   
Applauded by an audience of 8
on December 25, 2015 9:57am
"Cardinals and Bishops were seen...us(ing) cell phone cameras during the most sacred parts of the Papal Masses"? Is nothing sacred?
 
Just because their Holinesses did this does not by any stretch of the imagine make it 'right' nor in good taste. Shame!
 
d
Applauded by an audience of 2
on December 25, 2015 2:56pm
Agree 100%!
 
on December 25, 2015 7:59pm
Although I'm not an educator, because of the nature of my working (audio recording) I've been around middle and high schoolers and some of their behaviors.  One thing caught my attention in Susan's post:
 
"The next day, if she comes up with the shrugging-shoulders-I-dunno response, you can ask the other students in the choir for ideas."
 
I definitely see this as counterproductive on two counts:  First, it allows the student to get "off" with an emotional response, which is all that "I dunno" is about.  There would, in that instance, been no thought put into it, and she shouldn't be allowed to slide out of a thorough consideration of her actions, their results, and their potential consequences.  I quite agree with Julia that this business we've gotten into, thanks to the litigious society we live in and the fear of parental overreaction AND the lack of support from administration, of avoiding hard choices and making young people understand that to grow into right-minded people aware of other people's part in this universe, they need to practice a measure of self-discipline, to include a thorough-going examination of themselves when something happens which turns out badly.  I've heard several clergymen argue that we think our children are too fragile, that they can't handle some robustness or difficulties, whereas they're a good deal more robust than we give them credit for.  And in addition, we have to encourage them to that degree of robustness, of being able to "take it" when they do something out of order.
 
The second difficulty I have with Susan's quoted approach is that it makes the other students responsible for this student's action and its consequence by "inviting" the other students to participate in the decision-making process to determine an appropriate action.  This is not their decision; never was, never should be.  Despite the desire not to "hurt" young people, this is what adults do - confront and make adult decisions.  Inviting the other young people into that process is to make not-yet-formed adults responsible for an adult decision, difficult as it is.  It's not theirs; it's the teacher's.  Ultimately, the teacher will have to face the consequences of whatever decision is made, and will not be allowed (!) to say, "Well, the other kids suggested...."  Not going to happen.
 
There are some good points here:  get the administration behind you; if possible, talk to the parent if there is a sense that the parent truly cares about it - but if not, don't waste your time with them.  You'll merely frustrate yourself.  "Consequence" as suggested by Susan is worthwhile but only if the young person involved grasps fully that whatever consequences are intended and proposed by the teacher are a result of her actions in concert, which are wholly unacceptable.  If there is a need to indicate an escalating level of consequence for further such inappropriate behaviors, I wouldn't hesitate.  Young people in particular need to see and understand the rising scale of action and reaction.
 
Good luck - and I hope you can find a solution through.
 
Ron Duquette
Applauded by an audience of 5
on December 26, 2015 6:18am
Freeman-  Today's students, hmm.....Yesterday's students. hmm.....   Is there really a difference?  We need to know more about this student to make suggestions, in my opinion.  Knowing them as individuals, and not categorizing them as "a little brat" would be a start towards understanding.  And I don't mean that students should be "coddled", but they should be respected, even if their behavior might appear disrespectful.  We are, after all, their teachers, and how WE react and respond should reflect exemplary adult behavior no matter what the situation and ultimate solution.  I, too, am a retired teacher and would return in a heartbeat to interact once again with those wonderfully puzzling and mystifying middle school students.  They don't always "get it right", but they are, in my opinion, always trying to as best they can.  Some just need more help than others to get there.  That is my opinion of what an excellent teacher is about.  Look at all of the colleagues just on this site who are there for us to help and give suggestions for various strategies-all in the name of helping this student "get it right"!
 
 
on December 26, 2015 7:07am
Point One: "she loves attention." It would be unjust to punish this individual for being a 'bad person,' i.e. someone who 'loves attention.' If, on the other hand, they had a long history of similar conduct in direct defiance to admonitions to cease, then such conduct would be appropriately sanctioned in a more severe manner. Otherwise, you are merely dealing with a single, impetuous moment and young people are never likely to have any of those, are they? Second point: You don't mention anything regarding the substance of the 'phrase.' Was it vulgar? Was it "what a great choir!"? Was it "like me on Facebook"? If the context was not outrageous, then it is not as inappropriate. What was the crowd reaction? Was she even heard? Do you like this individual? Are you motivated by dislike? Are you sure you are being objective and not vindictive?
 
I think your first instinct is correct (10 point deduction) for an 'infraction (hardly a felony)' occuring once. Penalties are paid, in life, in when we don't mean it; it's a good life lesson for her and, if she has any maturity, she will accept it without resentment and, hopefully, attend to herself and amend her ways for which she will deserve your commendation at a later date. If she had been warned, from a previously occurance, she may likely deserve a failing grade. An impetuous, youthful error is a matter for correction; an act of defiance is a matter for chastisment because it is willful contempt for authority and the well-being of others. If this really is a serious problem, I would suspect that it manifests itself in other areas, i.e., poor performance, lack of professionalism and concentration or musical preparation, improper attire. If those things are otherwise well-observed, I would think it obvious that the conduct was not representative of a malicious intent. In law, we always view 'malum in se (wrong by its very nature, hurtful)' as more serious than 'malum prohibitum (wrong because it merely breaks a 'rule,' technical).'
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 26, 2015 7:45am
I'm "only" a chorister, and have never taught or directed a chorus. However, I am a parent, and one of the ensembles in which I sing performs regularly with a children's choir, and after having read all the replies here, I feel compelled to comment.
 
I agree that the behavior in question was absolutely inappropriate, and that it detracted from the presentation, and that some action is required. I also acknowledge the "entitlement" culture that seems to be increasingly pervisive, but this child is probably a product of that culture, not a proponent of it. That is, she may have no idea that she has behaved inappropriately; punishing her may be damaging in many ways, and may even put her off choral singing forever.
 
When my own child was about 5 or 6 years old, we started taking her to orchestra, opera, ballet, theatre, museums, etc. Part of that experience was teaching her about being considerate of others who were also there to enjoy the music, dance, play, art, etc., and in particular, that anything we do do distract other people (noise, fidgets, running, etc.) is not fair. (Kids respond to the concepts of fair and unfair.) I actually asked her to look around the concert hall at the individual people, especially those near us, so she could perceive them as individuals whose space and attention (and money spent on tickets) we needed to respect by sitting quietly and focusing our attention on the performance.
 
The point is this: People have to be taught about these concepts. It's possible that your young singer has no one to teach her, or that values in her household are different from what you expect. Keep in mind that these other values are not necessarily wrong; they may simply be different. Your job is to help her understand what is required in the context of a choral concert, where each chorister has a particular role and responsibility.
 
I would consider responding to the incident as a teaching opportunity, and treat her with kindness and forgiveness. It's so easy to get caught up in outrage over her outrageous behavior, but keep in mind that in her own experience and understanding, it may not have been outrageous. A kind approach could end up being a turning point in her young life.
 
I agree with another commenter who indicated that these expectations must be made clear to everyone, well in advance. If you have not made clear your expectations for concert deportment, then it is not fair to punish her for something she may not have known about or may not truly understood. Shaming her in front of the choir may alienate her to you and to singing.
 
Perhaps you can include concert deportment and related items in your curriculum, quizzes, papers, etc. Certaintly it should be part of the information that you provide to your singers, along with stage attire, etc. Depending on her age, perhaps she can undertake a little research to learn more about this, perhaps by interviewing other choral directors to see what standards they have for their singers, and drafting some guidelines for your choir.
 
Even in one adult choir in which I sing, we are reminded of no waving to the audience, no phones on stage, etc. -- things that SHOULD be obvious, but aren't always, especially to some of our younger singers. (And standards differ with different choruses; another group in which I sing thinks it perfectly fine to applaud at the end of the concert they have just given! They applaud the soloists, the orchestra, themselves, the audience, the conductor! I find it terribly uncomfortable, but that's how THEY do it.)
 
An important concept here is the whole notion of choral unity: We strive for blended sounds as well as a blended appearance. That's why we wear uniform attire, stand in certain arrangements, etc. Professional deportment is critical to maintaining this unity. Perhaps your conversation with her can start there: "We work hard to create a blended, uniform sound, where individual voices become part of our overall sound. In the same way, we dress alike and move together and present our music as a group, together. When one person breaks the "spell" that we have worked so hard to create, it is a huge distraction from the magic we are creating. Can you understand how your yelling broke the spell for everyone else?"
 
Hope this is helpful.
 
I appreciate so much what all you music teachers do!
 
Sarah Hager Johnston
 
 
 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on December 26, 2015 8:50am
If it was something that had not been rehearsed in class, it is out of place and not to be tolerated. What will she do next time if you let this go? What if another student says 'she got away with it, I want to yell, too!'?
 
I would cut her grade in half and warn her that if she does it again, she will no longer be in choir. I've read the other posts---some I agree with and some I disagree with. When will she learn that that is not acceptable behavior? But most definitely have a meeting with her and her parent(s), excplain what you are doing, get your supervisor's support and proceed. I would tell her that that this has NOTHING to do with her talent, however, on stage ATTITUDE is just as crucial a performance criteria as her singing.
Applauded by an audience of 4
on December 26, 2015 12:22pm
Having taught MS for 35 of my 42 teaching years and shared concerts of my three choirs with the symphony orchestra and at the two bands, in an auditorium that held an audience like yours with the overflow audience in the cafeteria watching on closed circuit TV, I know somewhat of that which you write.  My soundest advice is to take the child aside, with the principal, in the room.  Quietly explain to the child that the ensemble that is performing is the "soloist" at that moment.  When no ensemble is performing, the audience is "the soloist" as it is their opportunity to tell the ensemble how well they have performed.  The only time for this child to become "a soloist" is when she IS the soloist.  Explain that if she would like to become a soloist, her behavior must change first.  Then ask her, if she were the soloist, would she appreciate someone interrupting her solo by calling out.  But, because she did call out during a concert, an unacceptable behavior at non-commercial music concerts, a "punishment is demanded."  Tell her that you could drop her report card grade one letter, or even more than one letter, or that she could have this talk with you and the principal about decorum at a concert, and talk of how she demonstrates respect to others, and how she views people's opinion of her, and how her direct and indirect demands for attention must cease. If she opts for the discussion versus the "grade drop," her behavior, following the conversation, has to change for the positive or she will be removed from the chorus.  Of all of these punishments, being dropped from chorus is probably the most severe, for a MS student ALWAYS wants to be part of "the crowd," to "fit in somewhere, somehow."  Your punishment will gain only the satisfaction that you can and did punish a child: however, this "talk" may give the satisfaction of helping a child overcome poor parenting and poor self-discipline. How often have we heard, "My music teacher saved me…?"  However, if "the conversation" does not work, remove her from membership, thereby maintaining your respect for yourself and your choir and the choir's respect for you.  But MS children will respect you far more greatly because you took the child aside and talked quietly, nicely, and fairly and achieved a positive result in which all people win.  Middle School children will always defend each other.
Applauded by an audience of 4
on December 26, 2015 2:07pm
I have a junior high women's choir, and every single young woman in the choir is desperate to sing a solo.  They know that I choose soloists based equally on how well they can sing the solo and whether their in-class behavior demonstrates the leadership and respect I expect from soloists.  If I responded to an incident like this by giving one of the few passionately-desired solos to the girl who misbehaved in the last concert, they would all see it as me rewarding bad behavior, and I could expect every single member of the choir to behave in kind at the next concert.  I think there are other, more appropriate ways to "work with her" on professional comportment that wouldn't feel like a slap in the face to the rest of the choir members who managed to control themselves.  Just my .02.
Applauded by an audience of 8
on December 26, 2015 2:52pm
I don't often reply to these questions, but couldn't help it this time. I have read many of the suggestions and must say that I find merit in all of them. In my case, the student would be dropped immediately for the remainder of the year. They would be allowed to audition again next year (after a discussion with the student and parents.) That behavior would not have been tolerated, but the singers and their parents would have known that from the outset and would have known that immediate dismissal was the puishment. Furthermore, they would receive a failing grade for that concert. Discipline in the organization is the number one rule. I would say that I agree with Freeman on this.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on December 27, 2015 1:37pm
What? Of course you use grades for singing, when choir is an academic subject in school. And what this girl did and the responses the teacher is considering have nothing to do with her singing, or her joyful experience in singing. What she did is related to behavior, and how it reflected poorly on a whole group of kids who deserved better. 
Applauded by an audience of 5
on December 27, 2015 4:15pm
I definitely would change the word "punish" to "hold accountable for her behaviour."  I can empathize totally!  I've had this happen on two different occasions.  I agree with so many of the responses, that this is a teachable moment and should not be let go.  This should not be approached with anger, but rather simple clarification to this girl that that kind of behaviour is not acceptable in a choir setting, and really probably not in any school setting.  So yes, lower the grade, make sure your principal supports you, have a private conversation with the girl with her parents (if, like someone mentioned, they care enough to come), and clarify for the whole choir that though that might have seemed funny at the time, it is not behaviour that you will tolerate in the future.  I find it very hard not to let my anger seep through in these conversations and I have to work very hard to get to a different place before I approach these kinds of events.
I also want to touch on what Leslie said in the very first response regarding a student on an IEP.  You would have known if the girl had an IEP and if so, you would know what if any accomodations she needed in order to participate.  I teach in a school where a number of children with autism are integrated into everything, and one of my own children has autism.  It is true that people with autism often have behaviour that seems inappropriate to the "neuro-typical" norm, but if and when that happens, it is rarely a willful, malicious choice, but rather an expression of sensory overload.  It doesn't sound like that was the case here.  Creating choir experiences that are truly welcoming to all is a challenge that we all know!!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 27, 2015 5:44pm
Hello Dawn,
 
Some vital information is missing!
 
Firstly– what precisely was the phrase she yelled out? Suppose it was "Hey that was great!" (regardless of whether she liked to hear her own voice or not), would that be serious cause for concern and penalty? Secondly– presumably there was applause going on at the same time... was she really disturbing the applause? She could hardlt have "disturbed the presentation" as it was for all intents and purposes over. Thirdly– did anyone else call out anything at all– such as "Wonderful" or "Hey now we can go home!" – and would you have even heard them over the ‘standing-room only’ applause? Sounds to me like a huge tempest in a tiny teapot, especially as the music had all been sung, but I say this only because there is not enough information to go on. You admit 'she loves attention' so presumably she had manifested that desire previously, in which case how did you deal with her attention-seeking previously? Had you ever given her an ultimatum? If so, and she clearly knew she was over-stepping the line then some (severe?) disciplinary measures could well be in in order. If she had not been given an ultimatum, then I wonder why not. Your seeking advice is laudable, but there are too many questions left unanswered, too many 'ifs', the result of which is a plethora of answers all based on assumptions and therefor not terribly appropriate, albeit interesting reading, and quite possibly useful cautionary information. It would be interesting/informative to know how you eventually reacted to the situation!
 
Donald 
Applauded by an audience of 3
on December 27, 2015 9:14pm
During my 38 year tenure with the L.A.Phil, we played Aaron Copland's Rodeo many times. On hoedown I always would yell, "EEee-Haaw" during the transition just before the last time through the  tune. The fiddles scrubbed away even more vociferously than ever, and I was never repremanded. If I happened not to do it during a performance, the strings would turn around and see who was subbing in my place.
jefe de trombone bajo.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 28, 2015 6:10am
The person who oversaw ALL the students at the high school where I used to work would take a kid aside and say, "That's not OK." My kyudo teacher would just say "Don't do that again."
 
Quantifying music with a number grade eludes me; what, student X got a 93, but student Y got a 94 because one of them missed a C# or something like that? A good grading rubric does a lot of work FOR you... doesn't matter what *I* think; X happened, it says here that if X happens, the grade goes to letter "whatever." But my experience is that students really connected with an adult who just told them the truth; so just tell them the truth. Dude, that's *not* OK.
 
Robert
Applauded by an audience of 7
on December 28, 2015 7:56am
...and King George II is reputed to have stood up after hearing the Halleluia chorus, obliging all present to stand. What a show-off!!! (LOL)
 
Mozart was prone to outbursts of improper language. Hmm... I am now wondering if the unfortunate girl under question has been tested for Tourette syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), all of which include involuntary actions and/or language amongst a variety of other symptoms.
 
Possibly more to this than meets the ear...
 
Don't jump too quickly!
 
Donald
 
 
 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on December 28, 2015 7:56am
...and King George II is reputed to have stood up after hearing the Halleluia chorus, obliging all present to stand. What a show-off!!! (LOL)
 
Mozart was prone to outbursts of improper language. Hmm... I am now wondering if the unfortunate girl under question has been tested for Tourette syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), all of which include involuntary actions and/or language amongst a variety of other symptoms.
 
Possibly more to this than meets the ear...
 
Don't jump too quickly!
 
Donald
 
 
 
on December 28, 2015 3:02pm
Thoughts of moles and molehills have been occurring to me as I have been reading this discussion.  I am inclined to think that Robert's suggestion is very helpful and it would be my choice of course of action for dealing with a _middle school student_ who had behaved in this way. "That's not OK.  Don't do that again."  A brief sentence or two explaining why the behaviour was inappropriate might be useful, and all would be delivered calmly, firmly and respectfully, not angrily. Done, dusted and we're moving on. 
 
It could be useful to include reference to not calling out in the way this student did during a lesson/discussion on concert deportment later, without reference to the specific event.  If marks are to be deducted for such behaviour, it is only fair that students know, and are reminded in advance.
 
Helen Duggan
Applauded by an audience of 4
on December 29, 2015 3:54pm
We should be provided with student IEPs, but in practice this does not always happen.  Better to inquire to be sure.  Most years I receive most IEPs, but have to make specific requests to get others.  On a few occasions, I've even had teachers--overheard in the staff room talking about a student--say they can't share IEP and other information with me because it would be a breach of privacy.  What is it that makes that makes an IEP revelant in the student's other classes but not in mine?  I attribute this to the "music is not a core subject"  and  "special area teachers are not real teachers" syndromes, of which we can find examples from the local to the national level. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 30, 2015 8:30am
I've taught K-12 for 29 years, and I've learned that having students grade themselves is the most effective way to get them to take pride in themselves and their performances.  To that end, I have an extensive choir handbook that clearly spells out all of my expectations, and we go through it the first week of school and repeat sections as needed throughout the year.   Second, I developed a performance quiz that we go through before and after each performance.  For example, the professionalism question looks like this:
 
Professionalism on Stage
5.    I was professional on stage at all times; I did not fidget, I always kept my eyes on the director, I did not talk, whisper, or make inappropriate sounds that would draw the audience's attention to me.
4.     I was professional most of the time; I may have fidgeted once or twice.
3.     I was professional some of the time;  I fidgeted or looked away from the director once or twice and May have whispered to my neighbor when we first got on the risers.
2.     I was professional part of the time; I fidgeted more than twice, looked away from the director more than twice, and whispered or talked on stage while we were singing or between songs.
1.     I was unprofessional on stage by fidgeting more than twice, looking away from the director more than three times, and/or by waving or calling out to the audience.
 
I've done  something similar with professionalism in the audience (using a cell phone during a concert is 1 point).  The singing questions (there are 2) relate to personal preparation (1 point) and personal performance of correct notes, rhythms, and expressive markings (1 point).  The whole performance is worth 4 points (standard based grading; worth 30% of total semester grade).   Each rehearsal day is worth 1 point; if they are absent, they have to make up the point with practice CDs.  Rehearsal points are worth 45% of the grade.  10% is Above & Beyond (things outside class to self-improve or help the team like voice lessons, participation in Solo & Ensemble, writing concert reviews, analyzing music in musical movies, etc.), 5% is theory and Solfa homework, and 10% is testing/learning check scores.
 
I collect those quizzes and use them for the grade in the grade book.  At the top of the page, I add up their score and give up to 4 points more; mine is based on how honest they were in their self-assessment (so kids won't mark themselves down unnecessarily but honestly).  So, there are 8 points for a concert grade, weighted as 30% overall. Believe me, when they have to add up their own points to see what grade they had to give themselves, I see much improvement quickly, and I also see kids start to take ownership and pride in their own work.
 
in short, teach her to figure out for herself what she did wrong and why.  Hope this helps!
 
Sue Green
Applauded by an audience of 4
on December 30, 2015 1:32pm
Half off, so a 50. Next time, cut her from the choir. Musical ensembles, no matter what the level, demand professionalism and decorum. If they can't deliver that at all times, then well, there's other electives.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on December 31, 2015 2:06pm
70. with a warning that next time it is a 50 and expulsion.
on January 1, 2015 7:47am
I guess my only concern here is the comment "it is not fair to punish her for something she may not have known about or may not truly [have] understood."  Under other circumstances, if the expectations are not laid out clearly, I could agree.  However, tell me please:  how many concerts have any of us gone to where there's this "yelling out?"  I can only recall that, in the rather numerous occasions I've been in middle and high schools (to record), if there is "yelling out," it's from someone in the audience - and a glare from the director/teacher is all it takes to quell that.  BUT, in the case of a performer, when did she ever see one do that?  I suspect the answer is "so rarely, that you could count the instances on the fingers of one hand and have ALL of them left over."  Hence, this is NOT, in my judgment, one of those instances where we excuse the behavior for "ignorance's" sake.  The argument seems to be that, if it isn't modeled at home, we have to understand.  Nonsense.  Home is not the only place that we learn how to behave, and especially once one is in school.  I suspect that, in other academic instances, she likely hasn't done this sort of thing.  Why should the concert hall be any different as an occasion to behave as otherwise?
 
Ron Duquette
Applauded by an audience of 2
on January 1, 2015 8:59am
I completed agee with Kayla. Sage advice,
 
Jim Marvin
on January 1, 2015 3:56pm
In my district, MS homework/coursework represents 20-30% of grade. Assessments represent 70-80% of grade. But that is not the 'behavior' grade. The CONCERT serves as my assessment and is worth 70-80% of the grade for that grading period. Conduct grades are based on student behaviors.  Conduct grades and attendance are reflected in the conduct area. The BEHAVIOR of that student was intentional. You have other issues to work on with that student that are far more important than a grade. 
 
I know her actions were rude and inappropriate. This could be the teachable moment you've hoped for with this one. I'd have a meeting with my admin, to discuss how YOU want to handle things, so when you meet with the parents, the admin has your back. 
Let the student understand how her actions affected EVERYBODY -- all 250 people, PLUS the audience; that NOBODY thought is was funny; that her actions were not FAIR to everybody else; that there is a time and a place for that kind of behavior, but not at a concert.
Tell the parents that you want her in the program if she can correct her impulses.
Tell the parents that her grade will be affected based on the expectations you shared in class that everyone else was able to maintain.
It's not really that big of a deal. Our "artist" egos get hurt, admins may "observe" a lack of something, but WE know your 'pain'. In the end, this is one child that did one thing for one second on one evening. This could be just what this child needs . . . firm and loving discipline -- not punishment -- set inside strong and fair boundaries. Make sure there is NO question in her mind what your expectations will be -- pretest and posttest on concert behavior.  Good luck!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on January 1, 2015 3:58pm
I'd love to see your handbook and quiz!
on January 6, 2016 8:09am
Thank you Julie.  
I didn't think that anything I wrote or considered was 'shaming'.  I don't think any teacher would consider that.  
on January 6, 2016 8:18am
Thank you.
The phrase was at the end of 'all I want for christmas is you'.  Right after the song finishes, during the moment of silence, she jumped up, pointed her arm towards the audience & yelled "and you in the back!".
Several parents and students approached me about how innappropriate they thought it was and some actually apologized to me, for her, because they felt so bad. 
While I do 'like' the student, she definitely has a 'sense of entitlement'.  She has done things in other classes/situations to be the center of attention because she feels nothing will happen to her(her mother is also on the board of ed)
on January 7, 2016 10:04pm
It might be a good idea to have a "concert grading rubric" sheet made up for this kind of potential sitaution.  That way, the students (and administration and parents, if need be) can see exactly what the expectations area and exactly what the breakdown of the points will be for their grade.  Rather than pick an arbitrary amount to deduct, you might divide the grade into (just as an example): Concert Preparation=30%; Concert Participation=30%; Concert Behavior=40% (or whatever numbers you like).  Personally, I would have given this student 0 points for "concert behavior" in this scenario.  This is all assuming that you've deemed her perfectly capable of making good decisions, knowing that this was NOT a good decision and that she was in fact doing this in an effort to detract from the performance and simply gain negative attention. good luck. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
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