Work Smarter, Not Harder: Creating Innovative Rehearsal Spaces
New leadership ultimately leads to change, one way or another, positive or negative. New choir directors can choose to either conform to an existing choir culture by trying to copy and sustain success of previous leadership or find ways to develop their own. Directors not interested in changing the status quo will likely struggle trying to be Version 2.0 of someone else and will either go insane or be asked to change by someone else, be it parents, students, or administrators. Then there is the other extreme – a director who goes in guns blazing, seeking to change everything. Changing too much too fast shows a disregard for tradition and can be a kiss of death to his/her tenure at a school. So, where is the happy medium? It is strategic, calculated, purposeful, and creative. Previous posts have discussed the importance of choosing small things to change in order to build trust and a pattern of success, but what about changing things that don’t directly impact kids but make your administrative life easier, thus giving you more time to spend on your kids? After assessing your situation, let your creativity and resourcefulness go to work as you seek to innovate new ways to energize your choral program and culture. Ask yourself questions about the “operations” of the room and the program. Here are some examples to consider:
- How is the room set up? Can students enter quickly and arrive on time?
- Does the room inspire work ethic, excellence, and pride?
- Is equipment in the room operating correctly? Does it enhance instruction or clutter the learning environment?
- If you have any supplemental areas like practice rooms, storage rooms, offices, closets, etc., can these be used as additional areas for “dividing and conquering?”
One example I used when teaching on multiple campuses was centralizing and organizing the district’s music library. I had no idea that we had music from the 1960s – and even some quality titles still in print today! I created a browser folder of one copy of every piece for both schools and created an online database. It took two days over the summer and some wonderful volunteers to pull it off, but instead of ordering music that we already had and wasting a limited budget, I innovated and used creativity to be more efficient. Do you have a disorganized workspace or cluttered storage? Can these become innovation stations where sectionals, voice lessons, or small ensemble rehearsals can take place? Are you using vertical space for storage. Consider building shelves UP if you are out of space (keeping fire code in mind). Do you have any sound equipment? Do you know how to use it or is it clutter? Regardless if you are reinventing, repurposing, or creating, aim to innovate. It makes your life easier, teaching better, and ultimately leads to better music! Until next time, remember to “Sing. Share. Serve.”