2021/22 Handbook



“Improving the lives of audience member and performer alike through musical excellence, professionalism, and pride.”


The Bear River Music Ensembles provide quality musical experiences to our audiences and, as a family founded in mutual trust and good will, provide for ourselves the means for personal and collective growth in musicianship, discipline, and integrity. We take pride in each member and each success, regardless of competitive result.


Improving lives, one performance at a time.

There are many benefits to learning to sing. These benefits are multiplied through continued study and advancement in technique, musical artistry, and ensemble performance. Students in Choir are taught and encouraged to develop: facility throughout their vocal range, a variety of tonal colors, stylistically appropriate phrasing and dynamic movement, expansion of range, vowel unification and clarity of consonants, strong listening skills, music theory, perseverance, work ethic, and discipline. The study of music also helps to bring about: critical thinking; personal responsibility and punctuality; self confidence; leadership; goal setting and attainment; historical and cultural perspective; and respect for self, other musicians, and the audience.

The importance of the individual to the success of the ensemble is such that attendance and participation are essential to the learning process. The end result of that process is the performance of music for an audience. That performance is an experience that cannot be duplicated in any other way. Performances are vital to the success of this music program and are not optional.


General Expectations

  • Attend all rehearsals, practices, sectionals, performances, and other band activities and events. Students are expected to attend both physically and mentally and exhibit a cooperative attitude. Goals are more successfully accomplished with a full team effort.
  • Be early for all events (including class!). Warm ups or a listening activity will begin 1 minute prior to the tardy bell. Make the commitment to be here and be ready to work.
  • Have your instrument, music, pencil, and fully-charged Chromebook at each rehearsal.
  • Cell phones and other distractions have no place in rehearsal.
  • You should practice a minimum of 30 minutes a day outside of choir rehearsals. Regular practice by all will lead to a strong choir. This is, of course, a guideline. The quality of your practice time is much more important than the quantity. Choir members should practice to whatever extent is necessary to meet performance expectations. Do not attempt to cram your practicing in at the last minute. It is much more effective to rehearse consistently all year.
  • Follow the guidance of the student leaders. Give them your respect and cooperation. They have the success of the choir at heart.
  • Inform the Director of any problems, concerns, or suggestions as soon as they arise. The Director is here to help make your choir experience as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.
  • Be respectful and courteous to everyone at all times. This behavior only ever has positive results.
  • Keep our learning environment clean and orderly. No food or drink is allowed in the Choir Room during rehearsal. Water – the exception – is encouraged. Absolutely no GUM. Always leave the room and your area cleaner than when you entered.
  • We have the obligation to provide the best possible performances for our school and community. This means you agree to give up some of your free time on holidays and vacations for the enjoyment and entertainment of others.
  • CHECK EMAIL, SCHOOLOGY, AND THIS WEBSITE OFTEN. Sign up for Remind text blasts. Keep your parents informed of every scheduled choir event and all events that are added during the year. This is very important in order to avoid any conflicts with choir events. Doctor or dentist appointments, family trips, work schedules, or other events should be planned around choir events when possible.

Discipline Plan

It is expected that all members of the Bear River Choirs will follow the procedures and rules of the choir. Remember that our rules are basically common sense, and that each rule is set up to allow the choir and its students to have safe, enjoyable and successful educational experiences.

Cell phones have become a major discipline problem in class over the past few years. There will (rarely) be occasions were we will use smart phones to complete tasks in class. Aside from those very directed times, cell phones are prohibited. They will be taken to the office each time, following the school’s uniform procedure. If a student is unwilling to give up a phone, they will receive an office referral and the parent will be called.

In the event that a student does break a choir rule, the following consequences will occur:

  • 1st offense – reminder of correct procedures and choir policy
  • 2nd offense – teacher assigned detention
  • 3rd offense – office referral/parent conference

If there is a need to remove a student from the classroom during rehearsal, the student will lose all participation points for the day.

Note: Repeated office referrals will result in removal from the choir program. Severe breaches of policies and procedures (those actions that disrupt a performance or class or that jeopardize the safety of other students) will be referred to the office immediately and will not receive the benefit of a warning. Remember that all NJUHSD rules are in effect at all times when students travel with and/or perform with the choir.


Conflicts with Choir Events

The Director must be given a minimum of TWO WEEKS notice of any scheduled conflicts with an after school choir event (rehearsal, performance, or other scheduled activity) for the absence to possibly be excused. This written note from the parent must be given in person to the Director or by email, Remind, or Text. The note should include the parents email address, cell phone numbers, and detail the reasons for the anticipated absence.

Having to work at your after-school job is not an excuse for missing a rehearsal or performance. You are given the schedule well in advance. Missing an event will result in a loss of all points for that event.

Doctors appointments should not be scheduled in conflict with choir events. If there is no other choice, be sure to notify the Director as stated above as soon as possible. 

In the case of an extreme (hospitalized, etc.) emergency, the director should be contacted prior to the beginning of the event so appropriate plans may be made to cover the missing student.

Performance Attire

BR Voices

  • Black full-length: dress pants, skirt, or gown with sleeves
  • Black collared dress shirt with black tie OR black blouse/dressy top with sleeves.
  • Black dress shoes with black socks/tights.
  • School-provided costume necklace or color-splash accessory.
  • Absolutely no sneakers or other casual shoes.
  • Absolutely no jeans or leggings.
  • Cosmetics and jewelry should be kept to a minimum.
  • No spaghetti straps, bare shoulders or midriffs.

Students are responsible for providing their own black dress shoes, socks/stockings, and black dress shirt (if applicable). There will be no additional cost. You may choose to check out school-owned clothing for the remainder or provide your own.

Casual Uniform

All students will receive a Choir T-shirt. These help promote camaraderie, make the program more visible, and must be worn on all Choir trips. There is a recommended donation of $15 per shirt.

Starlite Express 

Starlite members will be responsible for purchasing their own dance shoes, secondary costumes, and accessories.

Students must be in proper concert attire in order to perform.


Because part of the year will be completed using Distance Learning, the grading system will be based heavily on work submitted and testing. In a traditional rehearsal class setup, much of the grade is based on observation of goals and objectives achieved, participation, and growth. Should we go back to school, in part or full, the grading system may change at that time to accommodate that.

60% Rehearsal Participation

Be on time (early). Have your music. Work as a team player and show improvement over time.

30% Assignments (Video & Written)

Via SmartMusic, Flipgrid, Google Docs, etc. These include scales, technical exercises, and current song excerpts.

10% Practice Journals

A thoughtful record of your practice sessions.

Concerts / Performances

Performances are an invaluable part of this class, to you growing as a musician, and as such – are mandatory. A missed performance can lower a semester grade by 20%. A missed dress rehearsal can lower your semester grade by 10%.


Covering Operational Costs

 Music is a lifelong gift and does not end after high school. (See “Why Study Music” on “Links” page). It is my goal that all BRHS Choir members consider their time here as the best part of their high school adventure. Every student is entitled to the highest quality musical experience we can provide. Choir is an expensive program to offer, and unfortunately the district allocation comes no where near to meeting the our financial needs. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help fund the music program.

Thankfully, the Bear River Music Boosters has reached the point of being able to mostly fund our base operating expense – assuming they continue to have active support from our parents. It is a huge benefit to the program to have parental support as volunteers for Music Booster fundraisers and supporting our performances and trips. This year, due to the pandemic, nearly all of our sources of income are in doubt. Our largest Booster fundraiser is the concession stand at Toyota Amphitheater in Wheatland. The concert series has been cancelled and so there will be no income for us this year. We bring in money from our own concerts – which may or may not be happening (I’m very optimistic for the Spring). We make good money selling Funnel Cakes at home football games. These should be happening, but later in the year than normal. It is possible that they will be played without fans, however.

Families who are able to continue making donations to help cover the Music Department’s expenses beyond the basic level are strongly and gratefully encouraged to do so at whatever level is within their means. Those who donate $20 or more will be recognized in concert programs throughout the year and on this website as a part of our Music Benefactors program. For information about this, see flyer here.