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Rome Wasn't Built In A Day: Making Small Changes To An Already Established System

In South Carolina, SCMEA (our branch of NAfME), organizes middle school clinics all across the state. This year, we have multiple locations for three types of clinics:

  • TB

  • SSA

  • 6th grade

Somehow, I became the person in charge of ALL OF THEM. 

confused math lady.png

SC Middle School Choral Clinics

Since its inception, our choral clinics have adhered to the following format:

  • Half day events, typically beginning around 9:30 a.m., and ending around 12:30 p.m.

  • 3 pieces were pre-selected by clinic committee members for each type of clinic (TB, SSA, 6th grade.)

  • Participating schools can opt to perform an additional piece at the clinic to gain experience, and receive feedback from the clinician

  • SATB clinics were previously offered.


A sneak peek of the TB Clinic I hosted on Tuesday

Making Small Changes For Big Improvement

At our committee meeting last spring, prior to the baton falling into my lap, we decided it was time to make some changes to our current model. Here's what we decided:

  • Each site host will receipt their own money and registrations. In the past, we had one person assigned to process all registrations for all TB events, SSA events, and 6th grade events. This gives the site coordinator more control over who's sent what for their own event.

  • Individual clinicians can now select their own repertoire with approval from the site host. This was my favorite idea for three reasons: 

    • Clinicians can choose pieces they love, and are familiar with, to share with our students​

    • Variety. Don't Like the repertoire for site A? Go to site B instead.

    • Exposure. Directors now have a list of 9-15 pieces of music for each setting that they can use for ideas!

  • Streamlined to three events by cutting the SATB clinics (for now, at least)

  • We are also considering extending to an all-day model in place of the current half-day.


I'm basing my ideas off of successful models I've already been a part of, like our all-county chorus pictured above

Piloting A New Format

I've never hosted anything in my life.


So, naturally, I'm hosting two clinics (SSA and TB) this year. Both of which are pilot events for a possible new format. Here's how I've designed them:

  • All day events, lasting from 9:30 a.m.-5:00 pm. with a brief public performance beginning at 5:00 p.m.

  • Time for team building activities and games have been built into the schedule to provide a change of pace for students, and a breather for our hard working clinicians.

  • My TB clinic is testing the addition of a 4th piece to the repertoire list.

  • My SSA clinic is testing the idea of teaching rote/partner songs on site in place of a 4th piece.

  • There are no group performances during the day. 


I also really dig the all-state choir model. But that's usually a 2 day event.

What I Hope We Can Achieve With These Changes

  • Streamlined organization and communication within the clinic committee

  • Increased time for student interaction with expert clinicians

  • Exposure to a wider variety of repertoire

  • Increased options for directors, who can now choose their preferred location based on distance, clinician, and repertoire selection


Another peek at our clinic from Tuesday! Chances of this amazing pic being on the next post: 100%

The first pilot event was on Tuesday! I'll share all the details with you including what went well, my thoughts on some improvements, and where I think we could go with it next. Directors, if you have ever been involved in planning or executing any event similar to our clinics, I would love to hear from you. What works well, what doesn't? What are your favorite things about the events you've hosted, or been to with your own students?

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