also consider planning a fall retreat with your singers.  Whether you plan a one-day get together or a weekend getaway, this one accomplishment can set your singers on the path to a successful year.  Now I don’t want you think that you can’t be successful without a retreat, but in my experiences with and without a fall retreat, I have found the singers work together right from the start which will get them to where you want them faster.  I will touch briefly on a few important points of retreat planning then offer you a fun icebreaker activity. For further information on retreat planning, please see my blog-dated December 15, 2014. 

First – Be detailed oriented in your planning.  The better prepared you are for all aspects of the retreat, the more reliable your results will be.  This doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible and deviate from “the plan” if an opportunity presents itself, especially if the new idea works into the theme you have developed for your retreat and year.

Second – surround yourself with great colleagues/collaborators on your retreat. It’s especially important to bring along an individual who works well with young singers and will serve as someone who will lead the team-building portion of the retreat.

Third – make sure that all the adult helpers assisting you on this retreat know of your vision for this gathering.  It’s also important that the helpers understand your guidelines for their behavior and the singer’s behavior if they are also serving as chaperones.  Have a meeting with these helpers/chaperones before the retreat begins to outline your expectations.

Retreats are a great adventure and help you solidify a great start and a great year with your singers.

Here is a fun and easy icebreaker that is great for large groups called Musical Parts.  You will need a singer’s Ipod or Iphone and speaker dock (or a CD and CD player).  Ask a singer or singers to share their favorite music.  Make sure they understand that there cannot be anything offensive or inappropriate in the music. Instruct the singers that when the music begins, they should move in some fashion around the room, i.e. dance, walk, jump, any other high-energy movement.  When the music stops, call out a random number and a body part.  For instance, “Five kneecaps!” As fast as possible, 5 singers touch their kneecaps together.  You can choose to eliminate singers or allow the singers to continue to play.  Three tips:  To avoid injuries, call out small numbers with body parts above the shoulders; Take notice of the natural leaders who are forming the groups; and last, make sure someone has a camera to catch these hilarious positions making sure it gets posted on your youth choir’s Facebook page.

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