Use the talents you possess, for the woods would
be very silent if no birds sang except the best.
~Henry van Dyke~


Mission Statement
Concert Expectations (Excused & Unexcused Absences, After-School Rehearsals, etc.)
Honors Opportunities (Honors Chorus, CMS District Honors Chorus, All-State Chorus, etc.)
Grading Policy (Participation Grade, Homework Assignments, Late Policy, etc.)
Materials (Supply List, Choir Fees, Fair Share Program, etc.)
Calendar Dates
Concert Attire
Internet Tools
Student/Parent Contract
Chorus Handbook Homework

CMS Vision and Mission
Vision: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools provides all students the best education available anywhere, preparing every child to lead a rich and productive life.
Mission: The mission of CMS is to maximize academic achievement by every student in every school.

Northwest School of the Arts Mission

Pursuit of Excellence in the Academics and the Arts.

NWSA Middle School Chorus Mission Statement

The mission of the Northwest School of the Arts Middle School Chorus Program is to:

  • Instill a lifelong love of music that extends into high school, into college, and into their adult lives whether it be a part of a community ensemble or a professional career in music.
  • Create an independent musician who is musically literate and passionate about singing.
  • Foster and cultivate an environment where students can express themselves through music and singing.
  • Improve student personal growth through self-discipline, kindness, etc.

Purpose of the Northwest School of the Arts Chorus Program

As a member of any singing ensemble, you will further develop your musicianship and total understanding of music in such a way that you can continue to enjoy, learn and perform music as an independent musician. Your NWSA MS Choral experience will not only prepare you to perform in high school but will prepare you so that you can enjoy music throughout your life as a performer, creator, or consumer of music.

Your objectives for this year include:

  • VOCAL DEVELOPMENT – tone, breath, care of the voice, pitch and intonation.
  • DEVELOPMENT OF MUSICALITY – expressing the written music through performance of varied styles and listening.
  • MUSIC APPRECIATION AND HISTORY – understanding of periods, composers, styles, genres and instruments.
  • SIGHT READING – reading music through the use of the solfege and takadimi system.
  • MUSIC LITERACY – following a vocal score with all pertinent markings, symbols and directions.
  • MUSIC THEORY – understanding all notes, rest values as well as all musical symbology.
  • MOVEMENT – expressing music through choreography if the music calls for it
  • PERFORMANCE AND CONCERT ETIQUETTE – presenting oneself in a formal and informal concert setting as well as showing the kind of demeanor and courtesy one should have as an audience member.


Music-making is priority. Anything else is a detriment to the learning and music-making environment.

Classroom Expectations

Be Prompt.

  • Come to class on time. Turn assignments in on time.

Be Prepared.

  • Come to class with all of the needed materials and completed assignments for that day.

Be Productive.

  • Use your time efficiently and put forth 100% of your effort 100% of the time. Pay attention and participate actively in class.

Be Polite.

  • Be respectful of your teacher and your peers. Be courteous to those around you and be willing to help other students.
  • The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Be Positive.

  • For success, attitude is as important as ability.
  • Attitude is contagious, is yours worth catching?
  • Never say CAN’T!


  1. Warning (#1)
  2. Warning (#2) / Alternate Assignment
  3. Contact Parents
  4. Bounced (Sent to another teacher’s class)
  5. Office Referral

Consequences do not have to occur in this order and will vary depending on the severity of the infraction. Remember, that anything that gets in the way of music-making is unacceptable behavior (talking, chewing gum, disrespect, insubordinate behavior, and any other distracting or disruptive behaviors).

Good choices result in the ensemble excelling and making beautiful music together. Individuals making good decisions will be more likely to earn solos, make the auditioned groups, and be chosen for important responsibilities or leadership roles in the department.


Entering the Classroom

  • Come in quickly and take care of restroom and water needs before the bell.
  • Leave your belongings at the side of the room. Students should not have bookbags with them at their seat.
  • Bring your materials (music, binder, notes, pencil, etc.) to your assigned chair.
  • If you are late, you will be marked tardy in PowerSchool.

Restroom and Water

  • In general, students should not be leaving the classroom for the restroom.
  • There is a water fountain located in the classroom and students are welcome to bring a water bottle with them to class and fill as needed. Students are discouraged from disrupting the class by repeatedly getting up for water.
  • If you have an emergency, you are required to sign-out of the room and sign back in upon your return. Recurrences of emergencies will be noticed and could result in deduction of participation points.
  • No food or drink is allowed in the classroom other than water.
  • No chewing gum. Ever. The first three instances will be documented and points will be deducted. After the first three instances, students will be sent to ISS.

Classroom Rehearsal Skills

(Part of your grade is demonstrating your rehearsal skills/participation)

  • Be in your seat with materials and silent when the director is speaking.
  • Keep healthy posture when singing
  • Follow all instructions
  • Sing when asked
  • Listen and follow along when you are not singing
  • Do not get out of your seat without permission

In case of Sickness:

If you are sick and cannot sing for the day, you must have a note from your doctor or parent excusing you from participating in that day’s rehearsal. No note = required to sing. Refusal to sing without a note could result in a zero for the participation grade and/or ISS for the period.

Cell Phones: As per school policy, if I see it, I will take it. The first three instances, the student will be able to retrieve their phone at the end of the period and points will be deducted from their participation grade. After the first three instances, the phone will be taken to the Assistant Principal and will remain there until a parent can pick up the phone.

Leaving the Classroom

  • Always remember, the director dismisses the class, not the bell.
  • Students will not be dismissed until everyone is in their assigned seat and quiet.
  • Clean up trash in your area (even if it is not yours) and return your chair to the correct spot.
  • Return your binder to its proper place.
  • Collect your belongings and exit the classroom quietly.

Concert Expectations

Concert Participation

Every student is expected to perform in the concerts. We work toward a set of skills that can only be authentically assessed in a performance with a group of everyone in the ensemble and an audience. If you miss a performance, a “make-up” is truly impossible. Therefore, make every effort to be at every performance.

Excused and Unexcused Absences/Alternate Assignment

Students will perform in four concerts, which will count for 35% of that quarter’s average. Points will be taken off of a student’s concert grade if they are late, leave early, are not wearing correct performance attire, or are disruptive during the concert (on or off the stage). Please note that since students are allowed to stay after school under my supervision on the day of each concert, there is no excuse for tardiness to concert rehearsals and performances (barring an extreme emergency). “Extreme” means “utmost or exceedingly great in degree” and “emergency” means “a sudden, urgent, usually unexpected occurrence or occasion requiring immediate action”. Please understand that there is really no way to “make up” a missed performance. The performance is an accumulation of everything that we practice, sing, and learn in class for an entire quarter. Excused absences include family deaths, personal illness with a doctor’s note, or other pre-approved absences by the director. Unexcused absencesinclude rehearsal conflicts, athletic practices, transportation issues, etc. Excused absences may result in an exemption from the performance and an unexcused absence will result in a performance grade of a 0. Situations where a student misses a concert will be addressed on a case-to-case basis. An alternate assignment of a Composer Research Project may be given to the student to make up the performance grade if the director has been given written documentation at least two weeks prior to the conflicting rehearsal or performance.

Concert Behavioral Expectations

Onstage Behavior

  • Hands stay at your sides
  • Eyes on the director at all times
  • Talking on stage is grounds for dismissal from the stage
  • No talking in between songs
  • Onstage emergencies will be handled by the director

Offstage Behavior

We must educate the audience about concert etiquette by setting a proper example.

  • No talking for any reason
  • You may not leave your seat unless you have an extreme emergency
  • Use the bathroom before the concert
  • Applauding is respectful, but only at the appropriate moments
  • No screaming – you need your voice for the performance
  • Be respectful to those onstage performing

After-School Rehearsals

  • Prior to each concert we will have a dress rehearsal after school.
  • Attendance to after-school rehearsals is required for anyone participating in the concert. An unexcused absence from the rehearsal means you will not be permitted to perform on the concert.
  • Everyone will meet in the auditorium promptly for roll-call, vocalizing, and rehearsing.
  • Rehearsal expectations are the same as concert expectations.
  • No food, drink, or gum is allowed in the auditorium.
  • After-School Rehearsals are usually held the day of the concert in the NWSA Auditorium from 4:30-5:30PM.

Honors Opportunities

It is an incredible honor and privilege to be chosen or accepted into any of these ensembles mentioned below. These ensembles require a lot of self-discipline and individual practice time outside of class. Please know that you should audition and experience as much as you can. Auditioning for ensembles and shows is a life-lesson; if you do not make it the first time there is always next year. Some of these ensembles are reserved for 7th and 8th graders due to superiority. 6th graders will have the same opportunities afforded to them when they reach 7th and 8th grade.

North Carolina Middle School Honors Chorus

This ensemble performs in November at the NCMEA Professional Development Conference for music educators from across the state. Approximately 1,000 students audition for Honors Chorus and is comprised of only 160 students from across the entire state. Requirements include an audition in front of a judge who will listen to the audition cut from the selected Honors Chorus piece as well as a sight reading performance. The cut-off scores for all voice parts are rather high, therefore only the top 15% of those who audition make it into this prestigious choir. Students will be required to attend after-school rehearsals to further prepare them for their audition. Students will have to audition for the director before they go to audition in front of the judge. Students who are accepted into this choir get to rehearse and work with a clinician who is a renowned conductor, composer, or teacher in choral music.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools District Honors Chorus

This ensemble performs in February at the Northwest School of the Arts Auditorium. The ensemble is comprised of students from the entire county. The director gets to choose the students from their school that they would like to have participate in this ensemble. Requirements include good behavior, hard work, dedication, etc. Students who are selected for this choir get to work with a clinician and sing challenging music. Students will be required to attend after-school rehearsals and may be asked to sing for the director to determine their preparedness for the choir.

North Carolina Middle School All-State Chorus

This ensemble performs in April at the Greensboro Coliseum. There are three ensembles that the students can be placed in: 6th Grade Choir, Women’s Choir, and SATB Choir. The director is given a specific number of allotments for each ensemble and he gets to select students for each of these ensembles. The students who are selected for this group come together with other students from other school from across the entire state and rehearse and perform for a whole weekend. The students get to rehearse and perform with a clinician. Students will be required to attend after-school rehearsals to help prepare them for their performance. Students may be asked to audition for the director to determine if they are prepared.

Grading Policy

Participation in class affects all other grades because the content which students are assessed on, both musical skills and knowledge, requires that the student participate in class in order to learn the material.

Informal = 65%

Formal = 35%

Participation Grade:

Students are given participation grades on a weekly basis. For one quarter, the student will have 9 participation grades. Students receive 3 participation points per M/W/F weeks and 2 participation points per T/Th weeks which equates to 1 point per class period. Students will lose 1 of these points if they are excessively off task or repeatedly not participating in class activities (talking, sitting idle, doing work for another class, distracting others, not singing, being disrespectful, etc.).

Weekly Choir Participation Rubric

Homework Assignments

Musictheory.net Interactive Online Exercises

Homework assignments will include online music theory assignments on www.musictheory.net. Students with no internet access at home should notify me that this is the case and they will be given the opportunity to complete online assignments at school.

Homework assignments assigned through www.musictheory.net are to be completed with 100 attempts (unless otherwise stated) and a 90% or higher with no skipped or helped responses (without hitting the “Reveal Answer” or “New Question” button). These homework assignments usually last no longer than approximately 10 minutes.

You will find the links to the homework assignments under the “Interactive Exercises” link located to the left.

In order to access your MusicTheory.net progress report, you must be using one of three supported web browsers:

  1. Apple Safari (optimized),
  2. Google Chrome (free to download – optimized),
  3. Mozilla Firefox (free to download), or
  4. the latest and most recent version of Internet Explorer (IE is not supported, but works if updated).

Follow these steps to print out your MusicTheory.net Progress Report:

  1. Click on the Gear icon in the upper right corner of the screen located beside the piano keyboard button.
  2. Click on “Show Progress Report”.
  3. Type your name in the area located beside the “Sign Report” button.
  4. Click the “Sign Report” button.
  5. Click the Print button located at the bottom of the screen.

Follow these steps to email your MusicTheory.net Progress Report:

  1. Click on the Gear icon in the upper right corner of the screen located beside the piano keyboard button.
  2. Click on “Show Progress Report”.
  3. Type your name in the area located beside the “Sign Report” button.
  4. Click the “Sign Report” button.
  5. Right-click on the randomly-generated verification code and select “Copy Link”, “Copy Link Location”, or “Copy Shortcut” (depending on your web browser).
  6. Paste the code into an email message to aaronf.lafreniere@cms.k12.nc.us

Progress Reports from musictheory.net can be turned in by:

  1. printing the Progress Report out at home (preferred),
  2. sending an email with the verification code, or
  3. handwriting the verification code and exercise information out on paper accompanied by a parent signature (use only if no printer or email).

Concert Sheet Music Projects

Students will be required to write in the solfege (do, re, mi, etc.) to their sheet music for both concert selections for every concert. In addition to writing in the solfege, they will be required to color their dynamic markings, tempo markings, measure numbers, repeat signs, and their rhythm counts.

Students will be assigned three separate coloring assignments per song.  Each song will receive a total of three informal grades (1. Measure numbers, tempo markings, dynamic markings, repeats, 2. solfege, 3. takadimi rhythm counting) and one formal grade (Final Turn-in with complete colorings and Sheet Music Project Page).

Along with these colorings, students will complete the Terminology and Sheet Music Questionnaire for each song as part of their Project grade. An example of this assignment can be viewed here: Sheet Music Project Jump Down.

Late work will be deducted 5 points for every day that it is turned in late or 10 points for every class period.


Please have the following supplies for chorus class:

  • A three-ring plastic pocket folder to store notes, worksheets, and warm-ups
  • A three-ring pocket pencil pouch to store pencils, colored pencils, reinforcements for hole punches, post-it page markers, etc.
  • Two or more sharpened pencils or mechanical pencils that stay in the pocket pouch
  • A 12-count pack of erasable colored pencils or erasable colored pens that stay in the pocket pencil pouch
    • These will be used for “Score Searches” – Homework Assignments
  • Loose-leaf notebook paper that is kept in the folder
  • At least five pieces of blank staff paper (no clef!)
    • Replace as needed
    • Can be printed at home for free at http://www.blanksheetmusic.net/
    • Click on the arrows in the upper right corner of the screen to enlarge the staff to 6-8 staves per page.
    • Recommendation: Print double-sided to save paper, if possible
  • Reinforcements for hole punches (Optional)
  • Page Markers (Optional)
  • Sheet Protectors (Optional)

Please also bring one of the following classroom supplies for general use:

  • Box of Tissues (We will never have enough!)
  • Pack of Copy Paper
  • Pump-bottles of hand sanitizer

Students will receive and be assigned a black binder from the NWSA MS Choral Department. All of these materials should be kept in their black binder.

Sheet music we are learning will be provided and it will be kept in your binder in the classroom. Sheet music is also property of the NWSA MS Choral Department.

Please make sure you take care of what you are given (the binder and the sheet music)!

Chorus Fees:

There are some monetary obligations to commit to when being a part of the Choir Program here at Northwest School of the Arts. You will see how the monetary fees are broken down below:

Chorus Fee= $100

  • Curriculum Materials (SmartMusic, etc.),
  • Chorus Binder,
  • Sheet Music,
  • Security Coverage at Concerts,
  • Concert Attire Uniform (Tuxedo Shirt, Bow Tie, Vest Rental),
  • MPA Trip Fee (Registration, Bus, Lunch),
  • Concert Dinners (4 Concert Dinners which includes, Pizza, Chips, Cookies, & Water),
  • Chorus T-Shirt (School Performances)

Please make checks payable to NWSA Choral Arts Boosters (or NWSA CAB). Payments will be due by the fourth (4th) week of school.

Parents who are having financial difficulties are welcome to work out a payment plan with the director. Please contact Mr. Lafreniere via email by the third week of school.

Fundraising Fee:

Fundraising Fee = $90

The NWSA Choral Arts Program functions because of the support of the NWSA Choral Arts Booster Club.  The Booster Club is able to function because of fundraising and donations and each family member is expected to do their part.  You can raise the fundraising fee through various means:

  • World’s Finest Chocolate Fundraiser (Sell 3 Boxes)
  • Bank of America Stadium
  • Company Match Gift
  • Pay fundraiser fee

Fundraiser Fee is due by May 31st or before travelling on Spring Trip.  Fees not paid by 5/31 will be issued a Financial Obligation Form and students will not receive their final report card.

Calendar Dates

Please visit the Calendar Tab at the top of this webpage and add the applicable dates to your calendar now!

Concert Performance Attire

If your student is a returning chorus student and has a uniform already, please have them find it and try it on in the next week so that they know if it still fits.All students must rent and purchase “uniform” items. It is important for our students to look professional and represent our program well in public performances. The NWSA Dragons Breath Boosters will purchase these for all students from Southeastern Performance Apparel. Students will be measured in class. Those who have items that still fit from last year should plan to wear their shirt and/or tie for concerts, and should notify the person measuring them. All students must rent a vest from the NWSA Middle School Choral Department. The vests are property of the Choral Department and not the student. They must be returned at the end of the year. When students purchase a bow tie and tux shirt, those items belong to the student.


What to Wear: What NOT to Wear:
Black close-toed, DRESS shoes(heels, flats, etc.) sneakers, tennis shoes, tall boots, cowgirl boots, flip-flops, strappy sandals, etc.
Black DRESS bottom

  • Pants (slacks, khakis, etc.), OR
  • Skirts (must fall BELOW the knee)
    • Black hose mandatory
jeans, corduroys, leggings, skinny jeans, etc.anything shorter than the knee

nude or white hose/tights

Tuxedo shirt, vest, and bow tie(Shirts must be tucked in!) dress shirts, neckties, etc.
Optional Acceptable Jewelry & Accessories:

  • Post earrings, watch, small bracelet
  • Black or White headband
dangly earrings, hoop earrings, bangle bracelets, necklaces

headbands with sequins


What To Wear: What NOT to Wear:
Black DRESS shoes sneakers, tennis shoes, cowboy boots, flip-flops, etc.
Black DRESS socks white socks
Black DRESS pants(black slacks, khakis, etc.) jeans, denim, corduroys, etc.
PLAIN Black belt belts with metal studs, chains, big belt buckles, etc.
Tuxedo shirt, vest, and bow tie(Shirt must be tucked in!) dress shirts, neckties, etc.
Optional Acceptable Jewelry & Accessories:

  • Stud earrings, watch
hats, do-rags, head coverings, necklaces

Please have a check for your child’s outfit for the appropriate amount by the fourth (4th) Friday of school. The check should be made out to NWSA Choral Arts Boosters (or NWSA CAB).

Internet Tools

Chorus Website


The Chorus Website has a plethora of resources:

  • Chorus Handbook – Posted online for constant review.
  • Staff Paper – print for free at home and keep a stash in your binder.
  • Progressive Sight Singing – Provides links for additional exercises, recordings, flash cards, etc.
  • SmartMusic – Provides information about this incredibly helpful and fun, interactive practice program.
  • ClassDojo – Contains information about the classroom management behavior software that is used in class.
  • Tenuto – Contains information about the app that accompanies the MusicTheory.net website.
  • Video Lessons – Students can view and study these lessons after learning a new lesson in class. Almost all of the videos are approximately 2 minutes in length.
  • Interactive Lessons – Students can view and study these lessons after initial in-class instruction. These lessons are provided by MusicTheory.net.
  • Interactive Exercises – These links are where students will find their homework assignments.
  • Homework Assignments – Provides information about how to complete and turn in homework assignments.
  • Quizlets – Students can study for tests with these quizlets.
  • Practice Tracks – Will be posted for various concerts and honors ensembles for students to practice with at home.
  • Pictures – Posted from various performances.

Class Facebook Page

Parents and students are encouraged to like the page in order to receive updates, reminders, notifications, etc.


ClassDojo is a classroom behavior management software program that will be used in class. Students and parents will receive a code in order to create free profiles. Students can customize their avatars and check behavior points from their profile and parents can check children’s behavior progress and receive behavior reports. Students will lose dojo points for being off task and can earn points for good decisions and choices. The loss of dojo points are linked to the loss of participation points from the student’s grade.


Students can create free profiles. Students can also download SmartMusic at home and purchase a subscription for $40 per year which equates to approximately $3.33 per month (less than a latte from Starbucks!). SmartMusic makes practicing fun! We also use this program in class almost daily for sight singing exercise and practice. Eventually, the chorus program hopes to assign SmartMusic recordings as homework.



If you are anticipating volunteering on any level this year, from chaperoning, to driving students, to helping to supervise concerts, please go ahead and complete the CMS Volunteer Registration at http://bit.ly/nwsavolunteer.

Parent Assistance Opportunities

Supervising After-School Rehearsals and/or Concerts

Chaperones are needed to help supervise after-school rehearsals or concerts. The director will be busy rehearsing or conducting the ensemble on stage, therefore parents will need to assist supervising the ensembles remaining in the audience to ensure that they are not talking or being disruptive to the rehearsing or performing taking place onstage.


Videographer: Parent(s) who will be asked to videotape the concert performances and make a DVD available for the next day for students to watch and critique.

Photographer: Parent(s) who would be willing to take capture our year in photos and submit them to the director for the webpage and to the Yearbook Editor for the annual.


This will involve fitting and distributing the choral uniforms.


Any parent willing to help with the fundraiser. The NWSA Dragons Breath Boosters needs music for many performances and events and has a wish list of items to help the Choral Program grow even more! Please keep in mind that the total amount of funds the teacher receives from the state/county is only $250. Therefore, all other funds must come from the Booster Club.

NWSA Choral Boosters funds provide:

  • Sheet Music – music that needs to be purchased for the choral library and to perform on concerts and state functions.
  • Professional Membership/Development – memberships to NAfME, NCMEA, and ACDA as well as registration for NCMEA Professional Development Conference.
  • State Functions – registration for Honors Chorus, All-State Chorus, and the music needed for these ensembles.
  • Classroom Supplies – black binders that are assigned to the students.

Wish List:

  • Updating Choral Library
    • Choral music storage boxes – currently music is stored in manila envelopes (approx. $2,000)
    • Wenger Music Library System – manila envelopes are stored in filing cabinets and we are out of space ($5,000)
    • Plaque Display Case – to display Superior plaques received from MPA Festival
    • Piano Accessories – cover($200)


Any parent who is experienced in music that could assist with rehearsals or sectionals or substitute when the director is out.

Student/Parent Contract

I have read each of these items with my parent/guardian. Initial the items below:

[___] I understand the rules, classroom procedures, and behavior expectations in the chorus class.

[___] I understand the consequences of unacceptable behavior in the chorus class.

____ I understand that I am required to have certain materials including (but not limited to) those listed in this handbook.

____ I understand the grading policies of the NWSA Middle School Chorus.

____ I understand that there is specific attire required for performances and I agree to those requirements.

____ I understand that it is required for all chorus students to purchase and rent chorus uniforms each school year for concert performances.

____ I understand and agree to the Choir Fee.

____ I understand and agree to the NWSA Choir Fair Share Program.

____ I understand that my grade will be affected if I do not wear the appropriate attire for a concert performance.

____ I understand that there is a performance calendar that I must adhere to.

____ I understand that I am expected to attend all concert performances barring an extreme emergency.

____ I understand that I must notify the director, in writing, at least two weeks prior to missing a concert in order to receive an alternate assignment to make up the performance grade.

____ I understand that a lack of written notification of missing a concert performance results in a concert grade of a zero (0).

____ I understand what constitutes an extreme emergency for missing a concert performance.

____ I understand what an excused and unexcused absence for missing a concert performance is.

____ I understand concert behavior expectations and proper etiquette during performances.

____ I understand that not following the behavior expectation guidelines will result in points deducted from my concert grade.

____ I understand that after-school rehearsals are mandatory in order to be permitted to sing on the concert.

____ I understand that notification for missing the after-school rehearsal is the same procedure for missing the concert.

____ I understand that I must respect and take care of any materials assigned to me including the black binder, sheet music, and any others.

____ I understand that traveling on any chorus trips will be contingent upon behavior, effort, grades, and attitude during class time.

Chorus Handbook Homework