General Rules and Procedures for All Ensembles

Class Rules

  1. Above all, be respectful to each other. One cannot respect others before one can respect oneself. The students should actually exhibit equal or greater respect toward peers as teachers.
  2. Respect the person in charge at all times. When the teacher or anyone else is addressing the class, talking is not acceptable. Use your common sense to determine how best to make yourself heard. If the time is right to raise your hand, raise it. If the time is right to blurt it out, blurt it. Students placed in charge should receive the same amount of respect as teachers should.
  3. Respect the class time. Enter the classroom quietly, obtain your necessary materials, and be seated and ready to sing at the bell. Always be prompt and timely. Attendance at all rehearsals is a requirement.
  4. Respect the music. Always display a forthright effort. If you try hard, it motivates others to do the same. Having a pencil and your music on hand is strictly required in rehearsals. The condition of the physical sheet music should also be respected so that students in future years can enjoy it. You will be charged for sheet music that is not returned, or that is damaged upon return.
  5. Respect the classroom. Please refrain from having food, chewing gum, and drink other than water in the classroom. Water is encouraged as it helps to hydrate your vocal mechanism.

Abide by the guidelines set forth in the choral handbook, and in the CMS handbook.

The Classroom White Board:

The board in E-201 is always full of important information regarding upcoming events, deadlines, dates, and various ensemble requirements. It is important that students be aware of the information on that board as it changes often, but posts dates and times for upcoming events well in advance. STAY OFF OF IT!

Concert Dress Code:

Every singer in the choral department at Northwest sings in formal attire. Men must wear tuxedo coats, pants, tuxedo wing-tip shirts, black bowties and cummerbunds, and black shoes and socks. Women’s dresses are a choral dress and can be obtained at the beginning of the year from the choral department. This year, the choral department has obtained a small collection of dresses which we will be happy to sell or rent to students who NEED financial accommodation. These will be distributed at a discount, no questions asked. I ask you and your family to ask yourselves if this is something you really need so that we can make these available to those who do. Once the deadline to purchase dresses has passed, the student is personally responsible for obtaining a dress from the dress company on their own. The advantage of purchasing your new dress on time through the choral department is that you get significant volume and shipping discounts.

The deadline to purchase a dress or obtain a tuxedo is October 1, 2019

Any student without the proper attire will not be allowed to sing in performances and will receive an F.

Some additional rules apply:

  • No large earrings, necklaces, facial piercings, jewelry, hair ornaments, or do-rags.
  • No sandals or boots – only closed toed dress shoes.
  • Women are asked to wear sensible makeup and look your best. You should look as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside.
  • Women’s dresses should be hemmed 1 to 2 inches from the floor with shoes on.
  • Men must wear BLACK dress shoes and socks
  • Be wrinkle free

The responsibility for lost concert dress items falls upon the student. Students are free to store their tuxedos and dresses in our closet on concert day at their own risk. The department will not take responsibility for personal items lost or stolen, so take care of your stuff. Be sure to put your name on it. A little masking tape goes a long way. Failure to return rental items will result in charges to students at the end of the year, and withheld report cards, diplomas, and transcripts.

A word about missing concerts:

A concert in chorus is like an exam in any other class. It is the culminating moment of the quarter and a major part of your grade. The unfortunate part is that if you miss a concert, it cannot be made up, and an exponentially more difficult make-up assignment must be submitted.

IF YOUR ABSENCE IS UNEXCUSED, you will be subject to submitting the following assignment under these specific guidelines:

  • A four (4) page paper examining a topic based on the music your ensemble performs in the event you miss. For example, if your ensemble is performing a piece by Brahms, then write a paper on Brahms or on German lieder. If your ensemble is performing a piece by Moses Hogan, write a paper on him, or on the African-American Spiritual. The best papers are on the composer or on the musical style of a specific piece.
  • The paper must be four full pages. This usually means that material spills over onto a fifth page. A three and a half page paper does not comply with the assignment.
  • The paper must be typed in 12 point Times New Roman font.
  • The paper must be double-spaced.
  • The paper must possess 1-inch margins, not more, not less.
  • The paper must contain originally composed material. If you cut and paste from the web, or plagiarize from any other source, I’ll know, and you’ll receive a zero.
  • In addition to the four pages of actual paper, your assignment must give the exact source of your information. http://www.google.com is simply not specific enough. I need the EXACT source. A source list or works cited page should be included. This helps me know if you’ve generated original material. This additional information may spill over onto a sixth page.

A paper that does not comply with ALL of these criteria will not be counted as having been submitted. It will be like your paper never existed, so just make sure that you comply with these. Better yet, ADJUST YOUR SCHEDULE AND BE AT THE PERFORMANCE. No computer? No problem. There’s one in my classroom and several in the media center that you can use during lunch and after school. Class time cannot be used to do make-up work for me.


A solo is a situation in which the performer must have the utmost self-confidence, and be willing to subject themselves to my criticism and peer criticism in order to obtain this fantastically rewarding experience. My selection of soloists is usually open to everyone, but sometimes I do just choose people. I would rather you just knew that I have someone in mind rather than having you think that the process is rigged. Public auditions for solos also give me an idea of what the choir feels is best for the position. I will determine when solo auditions are. They will usually be held in front of the entire class. If you can’t sing by yourself if front of your class, how can you be expected to sing alone in front of hundreds of others AND your class? YOU as a solo auditioner must possess the intestinal fortitude to step up and give it a shot. You may surprise yourself! If no one wants to audition, or the auditioners don’t perform to a level of my satisfaction, I will just pick someone. If YOU don’t like who I pick, keep it to yourself and allow that person and the choir every opportunity to exceed everyone’s expectations. Have courage and faith in yourself. TRY!

Performance Attendance:

Attendance at all choral concerts and their after-school dress rehearsals are required as part of every student’s grade. We ask you to put these events on your family calendar as soon as you receive them. Dates will be announced with plenty of advance notice and posted in Ms. Madsen’s room. Ensembles will be asked to perform at least once per quarter at the school, unless other arrangements are made at the director’s discretion. As mandated by CMS, students must be present at school for more than half a day in order to participate in ANY after school activity. The grade for missed concerts, which are seldom determined excused by the director, must be made up by doing an extensive report of the director’s choosing. If the student does not participate in the performance and does not complete the recovery assignment, the result will be a zero for that concert. The director reserves the right to deny a student the privilege of a make-up assignment for a missed concert per her own judgment. This will seriously jeopardize a student’s ability to obtain a satisfactory grade.

Upper level ensembles are often asked to perform at venues outside the confines of the school. Each of these concerts is required, and will bear the same academic weight as an in-school performance. Absences are seldom excused. Parents should contact the director at least two weeks prior to the scheduled performance, at which point, the director will determine whether or not the absence may be excused. Absences are never excused for work related issues. Medical appointments are also seldom excused unless the appointment is associated with a health emergency. Doctor’s appointments can be scheduled around the concert schedule. WORKING IS NEVER AN EXCUSED ABSENCE. By law, employers are required to work with high school students and their academic schedules to accommodate the student. However, if the student is not proactive about resolving scheduling issues, then the student is forced to make difficult choices. Don’t risk it; inform your employer of all concerts and dress rehearsals NOW and the moment you hear about them. Transportation issues should also be handled well in advance.

A word about communication and transportation:

Students come to me all the time with issues regarding concerts or events and transportation at the last minute. If students and parents don’t talk to me with advance notice, I CAN’T HELP YOU. Please consider that there are well upwards of 150 students in our department who are from all over the Charlotte area. Our students are usually good stewards and citizens and are willing to lend a hand if you ask. If you don’t speak up, no one can help you.


Special Absences (school related) – include such things as field trips, religious holidays, late bus and special programs. The student’s grade will not be affected by these absences.

Excused absences – include illness or injury, death in the immediate family, quarantine, medical or dentist appointment, court proceedings, and education opportunities with prior approval. WITH A NOTE FROM THE PARENT, a student is granted a maximum of three absences in a grading period before the grade is affected. Beginning with the fourth absence, the daily participation grade is not granted.

Unexcused absences – “Working” will always be considered an unexcused absence for all dress rehearsals and concerts. If the student misses a dress rehearsal without a documented excuse provided two weeks prior to the absence, they will receive a zero for the rehearsal. The student’s worthiness to perform in concert will be assessed if this occurs. Other unexcused absences include inclement weather, car trouble, sporting events, missing the bus, not having a ride, oversleeping, and birthday parties. Extenuating circumstances are always handled with an understanding heart, but there must be communication between the parents and myself.

Excessive absences – High school students who miss more than 10 classes a year, regardless of the nature of the absence, will receive an F for the year grade and receive no credit for the course if they do not participate in recovery. Absences initiated by the school do not count in this total.


This policy will be honored religiously, and will not affect the tardiness policies stated in this handbook, i.e., you will get zeros for daily participation for coming late regardless of other consequences levied by others.

Tardies are entered into powerschool daily. I am not checking to see what class you may or may not have been tardy for. If you are late to my room, you will be marked. No questions, pleading, begging or crying will get you out of whatever penalty could ensue.

As per choral department policy, each tardy will also result in a zero for daily participation, which will have adverse results on your overall grade after approximately three tardies.

Music Folders and Pencils

Students who do not have a pencil and their music in rehearsal will receive a zero for daily participation. Chronic offenders will see this affect their final grade substantially. Don’t let this happen to you. Always begin rehearsal with a pencil.

Bank of America Fundraising Participation

Each student in the high school choral program is expected to work at least one Bank of America event during the fall semester of the school year. If a family fails to participate, they were will be expected to compensate the choir for the amount they would make for the chorus for one shift. Each shift receives about $110. Family means one adult and one student over the age of 16. We need an equal number of adults and students to work each event.

Choir Dues:

Each student is expected to contribute $100 to the choir for its dues. This payment covers access to Breezin Thru, Smart Music, Sight Reading Factory, a chorus tee shirt and MPA fees.


Prepare: 20%

Rehearse: 30%

Perform = 50%

A= 90-100

B = 80-89.9

C = 70-79.9

D = 60-69.9

F = 0-59.9

Concert grades are calculated to give greater emphasis to good concert attendance and performance. Each in school concert receives three different grades. One grade is allotted to the dress rehearsal. Two grades are allotted to the concert, one for the rehearsal and one for the concert itself. Missing the rehearsal is NOT an option. Tardy students to dress rehearsals or concerts will automatically receive a 70 for the corresponding grade. NEVER EVER BE LATE TO DRESS REHEARSAL OR CONCERT CALL. Other performances and obligations that do not take place during school hours are graded in the same manner.

Quartet checks are given several weeks prior to an upcoming concert, in order to encourage outside practice and mental retention of music, text, and performance nuances. Each individual student is asked to sing his or her part BY THEMSELVES. Singing alone and with others is part of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study in music and is a required part of the music curriculum in our state. This is a point of contention for many students, especially in lower-level ensembles. Some perform poorly because they are self-conscious, and afraid to sing alone in front of their peers. Some students who sing very well in the ensemble crumble as a soloist due to the lack of error protection from the singers around them. Students are encouraged to sing alone often within the context of a regular rehearsal, where so much of their grade does not ride on their immediate performance. Students who are shy or easily humiliated are encouraged to simply get over it! Many shy students can attest to the fact that confidence levels shoot up significantly after they set their pride aside and sing alone on demand. If you spend time singing your music alone at home, or with a small group of peers from one of our ensembles, you’re on the fast track to success!

When a quartet check is administered, students are graded on their own performance, and on the quality of performance of their quartet. Therefore, if you do well in a quartet check, but your quartet bombs, you are penalized slightly, but you do receive credit for your personal level of accountability. Once quartets are assigned by the director, and a date for quartet checks is given, you are encouraged to practice with you quartet a few times prior to your check outside the confines of the class period. You reap what you sow, so work hard and receive your reward!

Sometimes, it is more appropriate to ask students to show individual accountability for their music by performing a section of music for me alone. This method of assessing accountability is often advantageous because it stresses that each student must be accountable for their own contribution to the rehearsal process and the performance. BARRIER EXAMS are designed to do just that, and are administered on a pass / fail basis. Students who don’t pass barrier exams are subject to being removed from that quarter’s concert with a zero for that grade.

In Women’s Chamber and Chamber Choir, students will be asked to complete “performance tasks”, which are 1-3 page papers on a given topic, 4 times a term. Rubrics will be given with each performance task.

Women’s Ensemble and Men’s Ensemble will be expected to turn in “colorables” for each of their selections each quarter. These count as FORMAL ASSESSMENTS.

Daily participation is a way for the director to assess your level of accountability regarding you meeting your responsibilities as a singer. Because rule infractions and miscellaneous delinquencies often disrupt the flow of the rehearsal, it is difficult to stop and think about how much each infraction should be penalized. Therefore, students either receive 100% or 0% for each rehearsal. Ways to get easy zeros include but are not limited to gum chewing, refusing to sing when instructed, excessive chatter, unexcused tardies, and non-participation. Non-participation includes not doing what you’ve been asked to do when asked to do it.

Charms Information:

Charms Office assistant is a cloud-based management. Here is how you log on.

  • Log on to www.charmsoffice.com, and click “ENTER / LOG IN” in the upper right corner.
  • Locate the “PARENT/STUDENT/MEMBERS LOGIN” section of the web page.
  • Login to your student’s program account using the following School Code:


  • This will bring up the main “Public” page.  This will allow you to look at the “public” calendar for your organization, event list, and handouts and other “publicly shared” files, as well as a few other options.
  • The first time you go here, enter your child’s Student ID number into the Student Area Password field.  You will be directed to the Change Password screen, to set a personal password different from the ID, for future use.  You may also be directed to create both a unique Username and Password for the student. There are also mechanisms to recover/reset a lost Username/Password – when you create your new password, create a “hint” as well.
  • Whenever you enter using this Username/password, another more detailed screen appears, with various button options for you to access areas in the Charms account.  What appears here is partially up to the Account Administrator or Head Director.
  • Two areas in which you can help the director/administrator maintain his/her records:
    • Update Personal Information – if the director has allowed it, you  may help make changes to your and your child’s student information page (such as updating phone numbers / cell carriers and email addresses if they change) to help them communicate with you more effectively. You may also be able to indicate which parent volunteer/resource groups you would like to participate in, if this feature is activated. Click Update Info to save changes.
    • If your program has set up online credit card payments, you can make credit card payments for fees, trips and deposits to your student’s account. Click Finances — if credit card payment is activated, you will see blue buttons in the four main areas of the financial statement indicating your ability to make online payments.
  • You may also see links to enter Practice Logs, view Grades, and use the Recording Studio if the teacher has enabled these options.
  • The Calendar may list events, rehearsals, and volunteer/RSVP opportunities.
  • Most importantly, the parent page assists both you and the teacher to communicate with each other.  Stay up to date on what’s going on with your student!
  • You can also download the Charms App to your smartphone – search your App Store for “Charms Parent/Student Portal” (or “Charms Blue”).  It’s the way to stay in touch on the go!