Upset Singer

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    I write this post with a heavy heart. I had a student waiting to talk with me when I got to school this morning. She is a smart, articulate, compassionate young woman who has been singing with me for many years (I teach at the middle school and the high school). She had a laundry list of complaints against me. Some of them justified (I wrote a facebook post to fellow directors which stupidly posted on all of my friends walls. When I realized my mistake I shut down my account (at lunch) hoping none of my students had seen it. The post never named her but some of her actions which made it obvious who the post was about, it was written in good taste and genuinely asking for advice about a student I like and care about. Two girls saw it, shared it with my principal, who was very understanding, and I don’t know how many other students. I felt awful (again) but thought it was done. I guess she’s known about it but never read it. She is right to be upset about it. I really fell apart about this one because I knew I had made a mistake but didn’t know how to fix it. This happened in December.
    Some of her list was not justified, but I let her say her peace and then had to teach that class for the next 90 minutes. I apologized to the class for the way I went about it and explained my reason’s for the people I chose. The issue I am dealing with at the moment is that I chose a select group of singers to perform the national anthem at our fair. I didn’t announce it. I didn’t hold auditions (every day is an audition to me – I know how they sound, their ability to sing parts, how they work with other singers in the choir, their attitude, etc…). I chose a group, gave them the music, and had them rehearsing on their own and occasionally with me. I told them to keep it on the DL because I didn’t want them announcing to the class “I’m off to sing with the advanced choir!” because there are those who think they should be singing with the advanced group. They Should Not.
    One of my more mature singers spoke up (after my apology) and said, “It’s your job to make these decisions. I respect you as an artistic director. You are a wonderful teacher.” He was not chosen to be in the group and was speaking sincerely.
    I feel awful. I’m not sure how to proceed. I know I am not a perfect teacher (I am human after all) and I haven’t handled things well this year, there are dynamics in this particular group which have created fragmentation and made it difficult to be successful. It is quite negative and I haven’t been able to fix it. I just want the year to be over and I want a bunch of these singers to leave the group. Not because I don’t like them but because they bring us down.
    I am a talented musician/singer and I know what I’m talking about. This doesn’t mean I’m a fantastic teacher. I know how to help those singers who understand that I am a professional who knows what she’s talking about. The rest…I don’t know. This particular young lady says there are others who feel the way she does. She said there is “resentment”.
    I care about my students and I hate that I am my own terrible 1st/2nd grade teacher to her.
    Maybe I just needed to get this off my chest. Maybe someone has a brilliant idea which can help me and my students.
    Thank you


    It is wonderful to have a place like this to vent and let others share with you. But it isn’t on Facebook when it is about students even though they are not named. You have discovered this the hard way. Something that public can certainly come back to haunt you. Don’t friend your students.
    Yes you do have the right to pick your singers and you do not have to have auditions for everything. That was a mature student that spoke up in your behalf. However, do not keep things secret. Secret things seem like you are hiding the fact that it is your right to chose. Pick the students and announce it,tell when the rehearsals are and say you have chosen them because of their demonstrated ability and hard work and don’t act like you have done something wrong. Stipulate that they are not an advanced choir but they are singing for a special event. This will let the members of your choir know you are in charge. It shouldn’t be a problem as long as you spread around opportunities.

    LeAnna Willmore
    NAfME, Choral Education Council Chair

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