• Choir Course Syllabus


    El Diamante High School, Room 704

    Mr. Justin K. Witt



    Welcome to the beginning of an exciting year at El Diamante High School.  You will be given the best possible instruction and I expect your best work.  Remember, you are the reason I am here and I am always ready to work with you.



    This course gives students an opportunity to learn various aspects of pursuing a career in vocal performance. It will provide students with a foundation and understanding of performing as a vocalist and prepare the student to pursue an entry-level position as a vocalist in a performing ensemble or as a soloist, or placement in a college-level program in the pursuit of a music degree. Integrated throughout the course are career preparation standards, which include basic academic skills, communication and interpersonal skills, technological knowledge, and industry literacy.



    Class Goals:

    • Students will be able to sing a variety of music from various time periods and styles accurately and expressively, individually and in ensemble. 
    • Students will learn how to utilize the International Phonetic Alphabet and how to integrate its use into learning music.
    • Students will develop a strong understanding for the fundamentals of music theory.
    • Students will be able to sight-sing music accurately and expressively.
    • Students will have sufficient experience and training to be prepared for an audition to advance to the next level of choir, and eventually for a post-secondary audition at either a conservatory or university.
    • Students will perform a varied repertoire of music in ensemble in a live concert setting.



    In order to work as an ensemble, we must work together as a team to be successful.  Teamwork requires cooperation, respect, and commitment.  Everyone is important to the team.  Each student is expected to follow the following classroom rules:


    1.      Respect EVERYONE.

    2.      Be on time (in your seat working by the time the tardy bell rings, otherwise you will be late).

    3.      Show respect for the classroom, instruments, etc.

    4.      Be prepared to learn every day with your folder, a sharpened pencil and any handouts given during class.

    5.      Give your best effort every day.

    6.      The only drink or food allowed in class is BOTTLED WATER. Please be prepared and bring your own. There will be absolutely no gum allowed in the classroom.

    7.      All assignments are to be turned in by the date due.

    8.      As a member of the Choir Program, students are expected to follow all rules, regulations, and policies in the Student Handbook.  At the discretion of the director, a student violating any of these rules may be removed from any performance, activity, and/or trip.


    Additional Considerations:

    1.      If you are sick, I need to know prior to the start of class.

    2.      When asked to sing, always sit or stand in the proper manner.

    3.      Rehearsal times are expected to be silent.  Please be aware that eliminating unnecessary chatter is vital to our success.

    4.      Please do not touch the choir room piano unless you have permission.

    5.      Sectionals are an important aspect of choir.  Your behavior during sectionals must be exemplary.

    6.      Always respect and listen to your student leaders.  They have earned the right to lead through commitment and talent.


    Students who violate our classroom rules will be subject to consequences, which increase with severity with each offense.

    -          1st time: Warning in class, student may be asked to be removed from vicinity of other students.

    -          2nd time: Parent will be contacted

    -          3rd time: Parent will be contacted, office notified, and detention given

    -          4th time: Referral to the Office



    • 333 Reading Exercises by Zoltan Kodaly
    • Choir Theory Level 1, 2, or 3 as assigned by course level
    • Concert Choir – Music Assessment Form – available at
    • Various sheet music to be chosen based on individual student voice type and skill level as well as ensemble level and experience
    • Various supplemental material including excerpts from:

    ?     Diction for Singers: A Concise Reference for English, Italian, Latin, German, French, and Spanish Pronunciation by Joan Wall

    ?     The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults: A Manual for Teachers of Singing and for Choir Directors by James C. McKinney


    REQUIRED MATERIALS (Student Supplied):

    • Black 3-ringed binder
    • Pencil with eraser
    • Required performance attire (explained in attire guidelines)



    Theory Tests: Students will be tested periodically at the conclusion of each unit of theory. Theory tests will be multiple-choice and free response. Theory test are able to be retaken for a better grade if a student is not happy with the initial grade and can demonstrate better comprehension of the material.

    Solos: Students will have the opportunity to study vocal solo pieces for auditions and for concert performance. If this is done, they will be expected to complete an appropriate vocal repertoire preparation worksheet, and if adequately prepared given the opportunity to perform at an audition for Honor Choir or for a concert.

    Public Ensemble Performances: Students will work on 6 ensemble pieces each semester at a minimum, complete an appropriate repertoire preparation worksheet for each piece, and will give multiple public performances (a minimum of 1 festival performance and 1 concert at the end of the semester: please see course calendar). The performances will be graded using the NAfME Ensemble Adjudication Form as a rubric. Please see additional course calendar.

    Listening Log: Students will be required to keep a listening log and listen to 1 recording per week of professional ensembles or soloists who are performing the similar repertoire. The comments on the listening log will be addressing the various technical aspects of performing being discussed in the class.

    Participation: Class participation is dependent on class attendance. Class participation includes arriving before class starts, having required materials, maintaining eye contact with director during rehearsal and instruction, not disrupting class, singing with proper technique at all times, singing with appropriate volume, singing with energy and enthusiasm, maintaining good posture, and completing assignments in a timely manner.

    Self-Assessments: Students will periodically be required to complete self-assessments to help them determine the progress which they are making as ensemble members. The students will use the appropriate Adjudication Form to complete this task.




    A calendar with concert dates is provided alongside this syllabus, so please plan ahead! An ensemble is dependent on all its members.  Performance is the culmination of classroom learning and a large percentage of a student’s grade.  Students are required to wear their performance wear exactly as instructed in order to participate in a performance.  For example, a student wearing tennis shoes during a formal concert will not be allowed to perform.


    If a student isn’t able to attend a performance, please give Mr. Witt as much advanced notice as possible (a minimum of 8 weeks).  Although absences are rarely excused, extenuating circumstances do occasionally occur and will be considered on an individual basis.  The following are NOT valid excuses for missing a performance: work, birthdays, last-minute vacations, visiting relatives, dinner with parents, too much homework, upcoming tests and “I couldn’t find a ride”.  Again, please plan ahead and be there for your team.


    Performance Guidelines:

    1)      Be on time for all performances.  Call times will be given at least two weeks prior to the performance.

    2)      Demonstrate appropriate behavior as a PERFORMER and AUDIENCE MEMBER.

    3)      Represent the EDHS Choir Program with pride.


    Performance Wear:

    Students are expected to care for their choir uniforms. The following breaks down the uniform expectation according to class:


    Beginning and Advanced Women:

    -                      Concert Dress – Additional Concert dresses need to be purchased for the students each year.  Please consider purchasing a dress and/or making a donation in order to help the choral program with this large expense.

    -                      Black Shoes – Please provide Black closed-toe shoes.  High heels are discouraged for safety on stage.

    -                      Hair out of the face, and nice – On Stage it is very important to be able to see the student’s faces!

    -                      NO JEWELRY – No jewelry of ANY kind may be worn

    -                      Natural Colored Nylons – If nylons are worn, they must be the same as the skin tone of the person wearing them.


    Beginning Men:

    -          Tuxedo Shirt:  They may be purchased for $20.00 each, and may be kept if purchased.

    -          PANTS/SOCKS/SHOES – Students are expected to wear black dress pants, black dress shoes, and over-the-ankle black socks. Please note – these items must be completely black (i.e. no colored stripes or marks on them.)

    -          A vest and bowtie are provided by EDHS for use during the year.


    Concert/Chamber Choir

    All Students:

    o   Hair out of your Face, and neat! – On stage it is very important to be able to see the student’s faces!

    o   NO JEWELRY – No jewelry of ANY kind may be worn.  Permanent jewelry must be removed or covered with a band-aid and approved by Mr. Witt.


    o   Dresses – Dresses are ordered by Mr. Witt and may be purchased by students.  Students will keep the dresses or they may be donated at end of year.

    o   Black Shoes – Please provide Black close-toed shoes.  High heels are discouraged for safety on stage.

    o   Natural Colored Nylons – If nylons are worn, they must be the same as the skin tone of the person wearing them.


    o   Tuxes: Tux jackets, pants, vests, and ties will be provided at no cost to students.

    o   Shirts: Tux shirts will be ordered by Mr. Witt and may be purchased by students.  Tux shirts will be owned by student unless borrowed.

    o   Shoes/Socks:  Black dress shoes and black over-the-ankle socks must be worn.

    In addition to the clothing, students are expected to remove all jewelry (watches, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, nose rings, lip rings, eyebrow rings, etc.) and have their hair neatly styled so that it is away from the eyes.


    Cell Phone Policy:

    El Diamante High School and VUSD have a no tolerance policy for electronics and cell phones during class time. Please read it carefully. These rules apply for all rehearsals and choir events, whether before, during, or after school. For repeat offenders, the consequences will become quite serious.


    Academic Honesty Policy:

    All students are expected to be honest, truthful, and respectable in their dealings on a daily basis. The foundation of trust within the classroom is important, and a violation of that trust is a serious offense. Students involved with cheating, plagiarizing, or any unethical attempt of facilitation or fabrication will be immediately removed from the course and be referred to the Discipline Office.


    Students with Special Needs:

    Students with a 504 plan or an IEP should inform the instructor as early in the first semester as possible so that the instructor can guarantee that all the needs of the student are being met throughout the course and so that the student and instructor can work together to help the student progress to the best of his/her ability. The school site has provided the teacher with all 504 plans and IEPs, however this will help to make sure that no student has needs that are being overlooked.



    The following types of assessments will be utilized:


    • Theory Quizzes: Students will take a bi-weekly quiz at the conclusion of each unit of Choir Theory
    • Ensemble Performances: Students will study, learn, and perform 6 ensemble pieces at minimum each semester, and will be graded pursuant to the rubric listed in the course materials sections of the syllabus.
    • Participation: Daily attendance and participation is an important part of any performance based class. Students will be expected to be present and on time to all class and outside scheduled events. More than 3 unexcused absences will result in a drop in the overall class grade. Tardiness is also not permitted.



    1. Grades will be based on evaluation of the quality of completed assignments as defined in the syllabus.
    2. Students are expected to complete all assignments within deadlines. Due date for all assignments are final unless prior arrangements have been made. If you have questions contact your instructor by email or phone.
    3. The grade breakdown is as follows:


    -          Concert and Festival Performances                40%

    -          Attendance and Participation                         30%

    -          Theory Assessments                                     10%

    -          Self-Assessments and Critiques                     10%

    -          Final Course Assessment and Evaluation        10%




                Grade              Student Performance

                A                     93-100

                A-                    90-92.9

                B+                   87-89.9

                B                     83-86.9

                B-                    80-829

                C+                   77-79.9

                C                     73-76.9

                C-                    70-72.9

                D+                   67-69.9

                D                     63.66.9

                D-                    60-62.9

                F                 0-59.9



    Please see provided course calendar and course outline available on the EDHS website.




    I am looking forward to a great year!

    Welcome to the El Diamante High School Choral Program!



















    2016-2017 El Diamante High School Choir Syllabus



    School:            El Diamante High School

    Room:             704 (Choir Room)

    Course:            Choir

    Instructor:       Witt, Justin


    The El Diamante High School Choral Department feels that communication between teachers, students and parents is imperative for a great program.  Therefore, we ask that each parent/guardian and student sign and return this contract to Mr. Witt no later than Wednesday, August 17, 2016 with any comments or suggestions you might have regarding the choral music program.



    By signing below, I indicate that I have read, understand, and will abide by the rules and guidelines of the El Diamante High School Choral Department.  This includes all subsections of this syllabus. I also promise to complete my assignments on time.



    Student Printed Name                                             


    __________________________________                ________________________

    Student Signature                                                     Date



    I have read and discussed this syllabus with my student. My student and I are aware of the expectations of this course. I give my student permission to participate in all activities and discussion related to this course.



    Parent Printed Name                                               


    __________________________________                ________________________

    Parent Signature                                                       Date





    COMMENTS: ________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________

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