A Magnet School is “a public school offering special instruction and programs not available elsewhere, designed to attract a more diverse student body from throughout a school district.” I had no idea as a 15-year-old what a “magnet school” was, but that was where I was to go when I started 10th grade.
Baton Rouge Magnet was a strange and wonderful world to me. I was allowed to choose a major and take specialized classes in that major such as Music Theory, Voice Lessons, Music Theater, Composition, etc. My choir class was especially wonderful. It was then and there I was given my first opportunity to conduct a choir, and I loved it. I have to say a huge thank you to one of my early musical influences, Choral Director, Cecile Rischinse.
For many years she helped create a culture of “passing the baton” at Baton Rouge High School. She championed a number of student directors as she built and ensured her program’s legacy. Consider these important reminders as we all work to pass the baton on to those behind us:
We don’t always have to be the director in front of our ensemble. There is much to be gained by sharing the podium with those who show aptitude and need valuable experiences while still under your supervision. You’ll be amazed at the respect your singers show to student directors, and at how fertile the ground becomes for training and shaping young directors. Allow student directors to conduct in concerts and at contests. Audiences will be thrilled and supportive and adjudicators will be wonderfully stunned.
GIVE IT AWAY:
in addition to conducting duties, we must look for other ways to share the daily load of operating our ensembles. Take account of all the things you do for your ensemble, and see where others may share in these responsibilities. Train them, teach them, show them and inspire them. All the while you’ll be ensuring your ensemble’s legacy as you broaden the base of emotional investment by your singers.
INVEST GREATLY IN YOUNG ARTISANS:
What other art activities are your singers involved in? Musical theater? Private lessons? Dance? Visual arts? Spending time investing in the lives of your singers is so important toward building team and legacy. Go to recitals and shows whenever you can. Your investment of time will yield a great return as you work to build a great ensemble for today and many years to come.
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