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Western Mennonite School Course Title: A Cappella Choir Instructor: Mr. Hergert jhergert@westernmennoniteschool.org (503) 779-3657

Course Syllabus 2011-2012 Grade Level: 11-12

Welcome to one of the top 2A choral programs in Oregon. WMS takes pride in its fine choral tradition and knows that it is the hard work, high expectations, and dedication of students like you that have brought the program to this level. I am looking forward to another successful year. There are a few specific traits that we believe make our choir unique. The Western Mennonite Choral Program encourages and promotes:    

Worshipful singing and living Commitment to excellence A trusting and caring environment Service opportunities

It is our hope and prayer that through the choral program here at Western Mennonite these specific character traits will be nurtured in addition to just the musical experience. Course Description: A cappella is the primary touring ensemble at Western. In addition to three home concerts, the choir travels to the MSC festival, and performs throughout the greater Willamette Valley in churches and festivals. Goals and Objectives: Sections leaders will help to define the specific goals of each section as well as the overall goals of the choir. Our main objective is to develop as an ensemble to a level where music is not merely performed, but rather created and understood. Course Content: Students will study a variety of different literature from various time periods. Choral music is unique because it portrays meaning both through text and musical expression. The course content will allow us to create a worshipful experience throughout all of our performances. Materials: CONCERT ATTIRE: Looking neat and professional is something we value and promote at WMS. Also, part of the performance experience involves the physical appearance of the group. Dressing neatly and uniformly develops a sense of pride and unity among choir members and leads to a better performance. Therefore, wearing proper concert attire is imperative for each


student. If acquiring any of the following articles poses a financial burden, please contact Mr. Hergert. Listed below is the concert dress: Robes provided by WMS, and: Girls: Skirt or Dress NOT TO EXCEED LENGTH OF ROBE, black nylons, NO JEWELRY, no pants, close-toed black dress shoes (very short, or preferably, NO HEELS) Boys: Black dress pants, black dress shoes (no street shoes or athletic shoes), Tshirt without collar under robe, no jewelry, and black socks Robes must be treated with complete care when it is in the student’s possession. You must always keep the stole (part that goes over the shoulders) together with the robe, and hang the stole and robe on the hangar properly after each performance. NO ROBE SHOULD EVER BE ON THE FLOOR OR HANDLED CARELESSLY (e.g. stuffed in a locker). Grading: Grades are based on class participation and following the daily expectations, any vocal or written evaluations, concert and rehearsal attendance (heavily weighed), and following concert attire. TARDIES AND UNEXCUSED ABSENCES WILL SERIOUSLY AFFECT YOUR GRADE. AN UNEXCUSED ABSENCE FROM A CONCERT RESULTS IS AN AUTOMATIC FAIL FOR THE 6 WEEKS GRADING PERIOD. Since concerts and attendance are graded so heavily, it is imperative to MARK THE CONCERT DATES RIGHT AWAY ON YOUR CALENDAR. Timeliness is also very important; excused absences from concerts should be obtained in the first 2 weeks of the semester. If you have family vacations or long-planned graduations, reunions etc., these must be made known to me right at the beginning of the year in order to work out the conflicts and/or get the event excused. This is not meant to be a punitive system, but one that will ensure an educational and spiritual success for ALL members of each choir, SINCE EACH AND EVERY PERSON IS A VITAL MEMBER OF THE ENSEMBLE. Grades will be weighed on the following: Daily Participation Quizzes/Tests Performances

50% 10% 40%

Daily Participation: Each student receives 5 points for their full participation . Should students require a warning in class, their participation may drop for the day. If a student is required to leave the room due to their behavior, they will receive an automatic “0” for the day. Quizzes/Tests: Occasionally, students’ knowledge will be tested on their musical knowledge and ability. The purpose of these quizzes and tests will be to assess students’ growth in that area and will give further insight into what still needs to be learned or taught in a different/more thorough way. These may include quizzes, individual/group sight-reading testing, quartet testing (HS only), and written exams. Students’ prior knowledge and abilities will be taken into account when determining a grade for any performance assessments.


Performances: Once again, any unexcused performances will receive an automatic “0�, and no make-up work will be available. For students who have pre-arranged an absence with the instructor, make-up work will be available. CHOIR FESTIVAL EVALUATIONS At our District Choir Festival, students will be expected to evaluate a number of choirs, using a State-approved adjudication form. These evaluation forms will be graded based on musical insight, constructive criticism, legibility, and overall attempt. STUDENT EVALUATIONS Students will be evaluated throughout the year in various ways, including tests, quizzes, daily work, quartets, and solo evalutaion. GRADING SCALE Students will receive grades based on daily work, tests, quizes, and vocal evaluations according to the percentages outlined in the student handbook. IN ADDITION, students will be lowered one half grade for each incomplete tardy and one grade for an incomplete absence. Attendance: REHEARSAL ABSENTEE POLICY: A musical experience in an ensemble is more than people singing well individually. It is individuals learning how to cooperate, work, sing and blend with each other. This can only happen when students attend class consistently. Individual musical growth and group success are dependent upon each member knowing what is expected of them and being able to depend on others in the choir. Unlike a math class where students can be successful independently, the success of the choir and each member is measured by how well the group has worked together and interacted with each other in preparing a particular piece of music in a unified way. Precision, balance, and blend due to ensemble listening, like-interpretation, good intonation, phrase sensitivity, group dynamics, tempos, and trust can only be achieved through many consecutive group rehearsals. These areas cannot be worked on or improved when a student is working alone. Absences are excused for illness or family emergency only. If there is any other reason for your absence, a parent or guardian must contact me directly (not just the school) to discuss the circumstances. EXTENDED ABSENCES ARE DISCOURAGED AND WILL RESULT IN GRADE REDUCTION. MAKE-UP WORK In a class where daily participation is a main objective, it is virtually impossible to do make-up work that would adequately cover the learning experiences of the day. However, in the case of extended illnesses or other unavoidable circumstances, students will be allowed to make up the participation portion of the grade. In the event of missing a performance due to a death in the family or serious personal illness, a paper may be written. The student must attend a teacher-approved music concert and write a 3-page, MLA style review covering 1) the content of the concert and 2) an in-depth musical critique of the performance. In the event of serious illness, the teacher will give special make-up consideration to the student as to when the paper is turned in.


A student may make up class participation credit up to 5 excused absences and/or 3 tardies. Unexcused absences will automatically result in a “0” for participation for the day – NO MAKE-UP WORK. Students must arrange a time to meet with the instructor within 7 rehearsals of the absence/tardy. Students who have more than 5 absences will need to arrange a make-up plan with the director involving concert reviews and recorded rehearsals. No make-up credit will be given for beyond 3 tardies. Students may also turn in a 30 min recorded practice session with 3 other students from the ensemble. Specific Class Rules / Behavior Expectations: Daily Expectations A working choir is driven by a community of singers focused on common goals. Each vocal student’s daily performance and class participation are extremely important not only for the musical and intellectual growth of the student, but also for the growth of the entire ensemble. Therefore, the student’s daily performance and class participation will be weighed heavily in the grading process. Also, rehearsal success is in large part due to momentum; we need to minimize disruptions to rehearsal in order to accomplish our goals. Because of this, certain procedures must be followed to ensure the maximum growth of the ensemble. The expectations listed below are further outlined in greater detail in the attached Choir Procedures handout. 1) Be in your assigned seat when the bell rings. 2) Be prepared for class (folder complete with music and pencil everyday). 3) Maintain good posture as taught by your director. 4) Do not waste time or talk during rehearsals. Do not speak when the director is speaking. When other sections are rehearsing, use that time to study your part, the text, or other aspects of the music. 5) Participate ACTIVELY in the various activities planned for rehearsal. 6) Take care of your music. You are responsible for the music, and WMS WILL BILL YOU FOR LOST OR DAMAGED MUSIC. 7) Take care of bathroom needs before or after class. 8) No food or drink in the music room. Having bottled water is permitted, and encouraged. Get drinks at the water fountain BEFORE and AFTER class, not during. 9) NO GUM IN CLASS. Naturally, anything in your mouth will impede the singing process. 10) Leave books and book-bags outside of the music room. Space is limited. 11) At the end of class, do not leave your seats until the teacher excuses you; the bell does NOT excuse you. 12) Always maintain a positive, Christ-like attitude, and show respect to your director and your fellow singers. ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING. Consequences 1) Should these expectations not be met in some capacity, the student will receive one warning letting them know that they are not meeting the expectation and instructing them on how to fix it. 2) Should this expectation be missed again, the student will be instructed to leave the room and will be sent to the office for the remainder of the period. The student will


receive a “0” for participation that day and will be required to talk with Mr. Hergert after class to remedy the expectation. 3) Should this behavior continue to repeat itself, the students’ parents will be called in addition to steps 1 and 2, and a behavior modification plan will be enacted agreed upon by the teacher, parents, and student. 4) In the event that the negative behavior should persist, there will be a meeting with the students, teacher, parents, and an administrator to determine an appropriate course of action. The teacher reserves the right to skip certain steps should the need of the situation require such action. Any exceptions to these consequences must be agreed upon in advance with an approved, written behavior modification plan. Additional Information: A CAPPELLA CHOIR TOUR: All students enrolled in A cappella are REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ANNUAL WMS CHOIR TOUR. PRIVATE VOICE LESSONS Vocal music students are strongly encouraged to take private lessons. One-on-one instruction is an excellent opportunity for students to reach their full vocal potential. Studying voice outside of WMS is highly encouraged. A limited number of lessons are available after school with Mr. Hergert at a rate of $15/half-hour lesson and $30/hour lesson. Additionally, Salem has many fine area voice teachers, and students are encouraged to study with another teacher to gain a different perspective and further indepth study (see Mr. Hergert for details and with any questions). SOLO/ENSEMBLE FESTIVAL Selected students nominated by the director will have the option to participate in the district solo/ensemble festival in March. The student together with the director will prepare one or two solos for performance at the festival. An adjudicator will give you written and verbal comments about your performance and ways to improve your singing. ALL-STATE, ALL-NORTHWEST CHOIR Every year the OMEA (Oregon Music Educators Association) has a conference during which an All-State choir rehearses and performs. Students nominated by the music director will have opportunity to audition for this event. Every other year, a regional conference is held that includes an All-Northwest choir selected from top choral students in the Northwest, and, once again, nominated students from WMS will have the opportunity to audition. Both events involve significant cost that parents and the school need to cover, but these opportunities produce life-changing experiences that are well worth it.


Please return by Thursday, Sept. 8 Contact Information: E-mail Address: jahergert@gmail.com Telephone Number: (503) 779-3657 or (503) 363-2000 ext. 220 Facebook: Western Mennonite Choir Twitter: @WMSACappella (Contains info for all choirs) I am looking forward to another successful year of A Cappella. I look forward to the opportunty to worship with you through music this year. Please confirm that you have read and understand the contents and requirements, and have marked your calendars with concert dates. Student signature

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