Choir delegates responsibilities with new system


Charlie Messner

Choir performs at the winter showcase.

On December 13th, the choir performed their annual winter concert. This year, though, something was different. Not only did the choir harmonize while singing, but the technical portion of managing a choir was also handled in a new way. Students contributed to setting up the patron sign-up stand, designing programs, collaborating with the band, and spreading the word about the concert.

The well oiled machine that concert-goers observe is a result of choir director Sierra Pabon’s invention: a system that focuses singers’ responsibilities into four distinct crews. Each student directs their talents into a clear agenda—the administrative crew handles all things organization, the fundraising crew is in charge of donations and sales, the collaborative culture crew builds connections with other programs and the media crew is responsible for all promotional material. This way of dividing tasks has allowed the choir to flourish by offering students leadership positions, bringing in new students and enjoying the direct benefits of student work.

The crew that designed the programs was the administrative crew. Pabon explained their role. 

“The administrative crew deals with everything administratively and organization wise. Some things they do are work on the concert programs or proofread documents that I’m sending out or new documents that we’re making. They’ll often take attendance and lead organizational stuff if I’m absent,” Pabon said.

 Pabon described a project they have started this year.

“They are also working on organizing the music library, so they’re taking inventory of what songs we have, working on a nice little spreadsheet. They are kind of in a secretary sort of position,” Pabon said.

Katie Kunkel, a member of the administrative crew and secretary of the choir, discussed her experience in the crew.

“We helped make the programs for the last choir concert, and we are currently counting how many music sheets there are for each type of song and just working closely with the teacher on the constructive, attendance-type things,” Kunkel said.

The fundraising crew was those who set up the patron sign-up table. Pabon explained their role.

“When we have active fundraisers going on, they’re kind of the point people. They help build confidence and positive emotions with fundraising since it’s not always everyone’s favorite thing. They’re the brains behind developing fundraisers and also promoting them,” Pabon said.

Gianna Kosir, member of the fundraising crew and vice president of the choir, overviewed the crew’s future plans.

“We have a bunch of opportunities this year where we can go sing at different schools and competitions. We were selling cookie dough, like the classic sales you do, and we’re brainstorming different things to do during the holiday season,” Kosir said.

Pabon described some of the fundraisers the crew has already set in motion.

“They have brainstormed lots of new ideas for this year—we launched a choral patron program, which means people can donate to us and we will recognize them in our programs each concert… We are also offering business advertisements and family/friend advertisements in our programs so people can shout out some people in the choir,” Pabon said.

After the concert was over, the collaborative culture crew brought the choir together for a celebration. 

“The people on this crew are very positive good role models of the choir programs and genuinely appreciate and actively cultivate a good culture here. So these are my people that I kind of go to talk to, ‘how are people feeling about certain things—are things tense, is there drama going on, how do we minimize stuff like that, how do we make sure it’s a positive place for everyone,’” Pabon said.

The crew’s role includes contacting places to sing such as pep rallies or nursing homes. Owen Lipstreu, a member of the collaborative culture crew, summarized.

“We are trying to reach out and connect with other schools and programs throughout the school to try and grow our choir program,” Lipstreu said.

The last crew, who were taking pictures throughout the the concert, are the media crew.

“They maintain the instagram account and the twitter account, are working on developing a website and they also are developing all the flyers you’ll see around the school promoting our concerts. They make all the graphics, and we are working on a choir logo of our own,” Pabon said.

As a new teacher this year, Pabon’s first big move as choir director sets a precedent for her approach to teaching. She made sure her additions to the choir’s system involved student input. When first introducing her idea, she opened the discussion to students, and together they settled on those four crews. Then began the process of sorting the students into the roles that fit them best.

“I wrote out all four crews and explained what they are and they checked anything they wanted to be a part of. It didn’t have to be just one thing, they could be a part of as many as they want to. I asked them to explain why they want to be a part of the crews they selected, and which one is their top choice if they were selected,” Pabon said.

Pabon also wanted to ensure everyone was committed to the crew they joined and able to refine their existing skills with this opportunity.

“I asked them to detail the skills or background in the crews they selected. For example, [Sophia Merolla] selected the media crew. She has three years of experience of graphic design, video editing, managing other social media accounts… I’ve made flyers for this this and this… it’s not just, ‘wow, you’re great at choir, lets do this,’” Pabon said.

The crews not only help the choir as a whole but the individual students, too.

“[Sophia Merolla] wants to pursue a career in this, so this is something that can go on a resume, something I can vouch for, and something that gives real life experience for something that is a little bit more relatable and personal for everybody,” Pabon said.

Each crew has time to work on their tasks during the last fifteen minutes of class on Fridays. Pabon delegates these tasks by giving each crew a checklist.

“Everything is a lot more structured—everyone comes into the class having a role that they are prepared to do,” Kunkel said.

So far, the system has received very positive feedback.

“[The system] has helped us reach out to opportunities to make our names well known: we sang at the volleyball game, the band competition, the football game, and the veterans day assembly. We’re starting to bring consistent money flow in and build up the inner workings of our program,” Kosir said.

Students are more involved, the choir is growing, and these positions offer hands-on experience.

“I believe that the best thing for a growing program, in order to recruit members and retain the ones we have, is to give them something important to do. [I] make sure they have a say in what they’re learning and how the ensemble functions and how the program functions. So the point of making some crews was to delegate some work so that I could play to students’ strengths and make sure they have some ownership of what’s going on in the program,” Pabon said.

Overall, Pabon’s organization of the choir has given students ownership of the program they participate in, and if the winter concert is any proof, they have worn that ownership with pride and responsibility.