MYC Member Handbook
Welcome to the Madison Youth Choirs’ Member Handbook! Please always feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.
Madison Youth Choirs (MYC) was formed through a merger of the Madison Boychoir (formed in 1971) and Madison Children’s Choir (formed in 1985) on July 1, 2003. The Madison Children’s Choir brought a fifteen-year history of serving singers with innovative programming and creative rehearsals. The Madison Boychoir, founded by Carrel Pray, brought a more than thirty year history of performance, commitment, and advanced musical training.
MYC serves Madison and surrounding area audiences through public and private performances. MYC’s choristers have also had the unique opportunity to tour internationally in Scotland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, England, France, Japan, and Ireland.
Ensembles from the Madison Youth Choirs perform regularly with the Madison Symphony Orchestra in their annual Christmas concert. MYC is also the official children’s chorus of the Madison Opera and regularly collaborates with Opera for the Young, Madison Bach Musicians, and many other arts organizations.
Rehearsals and Performances
- Rehearsal Site: MYC rehearsals take place at Christ Presbyterian Church (944 E. Gorham St., Madison). MYC staff will be present from 15 minutes before rehearsal begins until 15 minutes after rehearsal ends. Parents are welcome to observe performing choir rehearsals at any time, and many enjoy relaxing in the common areas of the church while their children rehearse. Thank you for being prompt in picking up your singers at the end of rehearsal.
- Sheet Music and Binders: MYC provides sheet music for each singer; singers provide a black, 1-inch 3-ring binder for storing music and a sharpened pencil to make notes during rehearsals. (A limited supply of binders is available to choristers in need). All music must be brought to every rehearsal, including dress rehearsals. Singers are responsible for taking good care of their music; it should not be rolled or folded. If music needs to be repaired, please do so with clear tape. All markings should be made in pencil only. At the end of each concert season, music is returned to MYC; replacement costs of $2.00 per selection (or the cost of a major score) will be assessed if the music is not returned in good condition.
- Transportation: Families are responsible for transportation to and from rehearsals and area performances. Rosters for each choir will be supplied upon request at the beginning of each semester to assist families with arranging carpools.
- Observing Rehearsals: All of our performing choir rehearsals are open and parents are welcome to observe quietly.
- Rehearsal Table/Drop Box: A drop box is located at the rehearsal table in the hallway at all rehearsals; please use this to submit forms, payment, or any other correspondence to MYC staff. An MYC staff member will be available at the parent table before rehearsals to answer questions.
- Communication: Our goal is to provide comprehensive, up-to-date information to each family in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. We send weekly parent announcements via email each Thursday during the season. If you need a paper copy of information, please check the parent table at rehearsals. Also, we encourage you to visit the Members section of our website where you can download current forms, parent announcements, and even access archives of past weekly emails.
- Dress rehearsals allow our singers to rehearse at our concert sites, finalize musical details, and work out logistics. Casual clothing should be worn (not concert dress) unless otherwise announced. Attendance is required for the entire rehearsal
- Madison Youth Choirs presents winter and spring organization-wide concerts. Our concert venues change from season to season. Details on which choirs are performing in each concert are available in your season calendars. Our public concerts are paid ticketed events. Information regarding purchasing tickets is shared with parents and the public several weeks before the event is scheduled. As a reminder, MYC singers wishing to attend a concert in which they do not perform always receive a complimentary ticket. In addition, all children seven and under are admitted without charge. Due to copyright law, individual audio or video recordings are not permitted at our concerts. MYC concerts are professionally recorded and are available for purchase through our recording partners, Audio for the Arts. Seating for each concert will begin approximately 30 minutes in advance. Pre-concert warm-ups are generally closed to families and audience members. This allows the singers to focus on their music and final instructions. Individuals with special seating needs should speak to an usher. Individual choirs have other performances scheduled throughout the year; some are open to the public, while others are for private groups. The schedule is published at the beginning of the season (when additional performances are added, that information is communicated as soon as it is known); all performances are required unless otherwise noted.
Membership Details and Policies
Membership: MYC is dedicated to educating a diverse group of musicians and is open to any singer who auditions and is accepted. MYC has a non-discrimination policy (see policy at the end of this section).
Membership in MYC is for the entire season, from our choir retreats (often late summer or early fall) to first rehearsals in September, to final rehearsals in May. Members are expected to remain active and committed for the entire season.
School Music Program Participation: MYC considers itself a partner with school music programs in educating young musicians and promoting musical excellence. Consequently, as a member of MYC, you are expected and strongly encouraged to participate in your school music program. Although we prefer involvement in a school choir or vocal ensemble, we realize that schedules may conflict. As an alternative, studying and playing an instrument in the school band or orchestra is also valuable music experience.
Participating in a school music group provides huge benefits to young musicians:
- Daily singing (or playing) and technique/musicianship building
- Experience with a wider variety of music literature
- The opportunity to work with and learn from different music educators
- Additional opportunities (All-State groups, Solo Ensemble Festivals, tours, competitions, musicals, college scholarships, etc.)
- Opportunities for leadership, to serve as role models, to give back to school music programs and keep them vital and dynamic
MYC tries very hard to avoid scheduling conflicts with area school events, but this is not always possible. Please discuss pending conflicts as early as possible. Compare the MYC calendar with your school events calendar. In general, the MYC philosophy prioritizes conflicts in this way: performances (MYC concerts, school concerts, plays, musicals) take precedence over rehearsals (MYC rehearsals, school music group rehearsals, musical dress rehearsals, etc.).
Auditions for new singers (ages 11-18) are generally in late spring and late summer. In addition, MYC holds mid-season auditions in November and early January for new singers. Singers currently in MYC that wish to move to the next choir in the sequence audition in late spring with their peers. Please consult the audition section of the handbook for more information.
MYC also holds several sessions of Tallis (boys) and Colla Voce (girls) Introductory Choirs throughout the year for kids ages 7-10+ who are new to singing. MYC requires children in this age range participate in an Introductory Choir prior to joining a performing choir. Sessions meet for one semester during the fall and spring semesters or a one-week intensive class in the summer. These non-performing choirs prepare singers for membership in a performing choir by teaching basic music vocabulary, voice technique, group singing skills, and rehearsal behavior through fun games and activities.
Attendance: The most valuable contribution musicians can make to their ensemble is their presence at rehearsal. Membership in MYC is a commitment to faithful, consistent, and punctual attendance. Just like a sports team or the cast of a play, your fellow choir members are depending on you to attend rehearsal, learn your part, and perform with the group. It is expected that rehearsals will be a high priority in each musician’s life since each musician is holding a valuable place in his/her ensemble.
MYC believes that commitments are chronological, meaning that the commitment that was made first should be the commitment that is honored. To this end, MYC publishes its annual calendar in June in order to avoid conflicts. Please compare your school, sports, music, and other calendars as soon as possible and alert MYC of possible conflicts. Most importantly, please include MYC rehearsals, dress rehearsals, and performances as possible conflicts when auditioning for plays or other music groups during the year. While we understand that other fantastic opportunities may arise during the year and pose a conflict with MYC, please realize you may have to choose between this new opportunity and MYC if you will miss several rehearsals or performances. You are responsible for 100% of the tuition commitment if you withdraw after the 3rd regular rehearsal.
- Rehearsals: MYC members prioritize attendance at weekly rehearsals as part of their commitment to MYC. We know that singers feel the most engaged and successful when they limit their absences to no more than two per semester. If there are extenuating circumstances and your singer will be missing more than two rehearsals during a semester, please contact the MYC office.
- Dress Rehearsals and Performances: Attendance at dress rehearsals and performances is required. If there are rare extenuating circumstances that require you to miss a dress rehearsal or performance, please complete communicate your circumstances to the MYC office.
- Participation: MYC values the contributions of every singer. In some cases, as a result of prolonged absences, poor communication, or other extenuating circumstances, a singer may not be prepared to participate in a concert. This is rare and we always strive for the best possible outcome for our singers.
- Conflicts with School Music Programs: MYC tries very hard to avoid scheduling conflicts with area school music programs. Please discuss any problems as soon as possible in this regard with your conductor. Although conflicts cannot always be avoided, clear and timely communication is important.
- Tardiness: Because of limited rehearsal time, starting promptly is very important. Singers are invited to arrive 5-10 minutes early to get settled for rehearsal. Arriving late or leaving early can be disruptive to the rehearsal flow and should be avoided, if possible. Ten minutes after rehearsals begin, if a singer has not checked in and we have not received an absence notice, MYC will call a parent to confirm the absence. This is done for safety reasons to ensure all singers are accounted for.
- Come Anyway: Parents often ask if they should bring their child to rehearsal even if they are sick. If a chorister has a contagious illness, or is running a fever it is probably best for them to stay home and return to rehearsal when they have recuperated. If a chorister is no longer contagious and has focused energy, we feel they would benefit from attending rehearsal and taking notes on their music even if they cannot sing.
- Reporting Absences: Absences or late arrivals/early departures should be reported to the MYC office via the on-line form or by calling the MYC cell phone at 608-770-7464.
- Code of Conduct: MYC sets high standards of behavior for our members. Self-discipline, courtesy, and organizational skills are part of the MYC program. We realize that members come to us at different levels of development, with varying interpersonal skills and diverse home experiences. Our Code of Conduct is designed to be simple, fair, and flexible, without compromising our high expectations.The elements of our Code of Conduct are:
- RESPECT: Choir members are expected to be courteous to other members, staff, and parent volunteers. Choir members are expected to respect other’s belongings and to ask before using or borrowing something that isn’t theirs. Choir members are expected to treat others with respect, even if they don’t share the same opinions, culture, traditions, or ideas. Choir members are expected to be good sports about rooming and seating assignments, and to accept that new people and new experiences are a part of the MYC program.
- TEAMWORK: Choir members are expected to bring focused attention to rehearsals, to listen to directions given by staff, parent volunteers, or other adults in charge, and to work cooperatively when they meet as a group. Choir members are asked to work together to achieve a productive and positive rehearsal atmosphere. Choir members are asked to include all members of the group in both work and play.
- ORGANIZATION: Choir members are expected to arrive 10 minutes early for rehearsals and to be prepared with water bottle, music folder, and sharpened pencil. Members should label all belongings with their name and should leave rehearsal areas clean and tidy. No gum, candy, or food is permitted in the rehearsal space. It is the chorister’s responsibility to make sure that handouts and announcements distributed at rehearsals are taken home and shared with parents. At performances, choristers must arrive prepared and follow schedules punctually.
Most choristers are able to follow these simple guidelines with no problem, but sometimes lapses in judgment do occur. The following disciplinary policy is in place for addressing problematic behavior:
- Step 1: Chorister will receive a warning for inappropriate behavior, including excessive talking during rehearsal or other disruptive behavior.
- Step 2: If the disruptive behavior continues, the choir member will be removed from the activity for a “time-out” period. Choristers will be expected to return to rehearsal ready to re-focus and follow directions.
- Step 3: If serious behavior problems persist, parents will be notified and a face-to-face meeting will be arranged between the parents, executive director, and conductor or artistic director. Together, chorister, parents and MYC staff will develop a plan for correcting problematic behavior.
The following conduct is unacceptable at any choir function and will result in immediate disciplinary consequences:
- physical harassment of another person, including fighting or using weapons
- verbal harassment of another person, including making inappropriate comments, using foul language, or making threats
- use of illegal substances, including tobacco, alcohol, and non-prescription drugs
- refusal to comply with MYC rules or to accept directions or consequences from an MYC staff member or other adult in authority (such as a parent volunteer)
Any choir member displaying such behavior will be immediately removed from the activity and a parent will be contacted. Continued membership in the choir will be probationary until a face-to-face meeting can be arranged between the chorister, parents, executive director, and artistic director. MYC reserves the right to suspend the membership of any chorister who displays consistent aggressive or dangerous misbehavior.
It is not our intention to “bust” kids, but rather to give them clear guidelines and to help them make good choices.
Reporting a concern: MYC would like every singer to have the best experience possible and we realize that sometimes adjustments need to be made in order for that to happen. If you or your child has a concern about his/her choir experience, it is best to discuss the problem with your child’s conductor first as he or she can often make immediate changes to improve the situation. If you feel the situation has not improved or feel uncomfortable approaching the conductor, please contact the artistic director who will work with you and the conductor to resolve the problem to the best of our ability. The MYC staff encourages singers and parents to bring concerns to our attention as soon as possible so we can make appropriate adjustments before the problem escalates.
Wardrobe: Each singer receives a rented concert wardrobe specific to their choir. The annual rental fee is $20. Wardrobe will be fitted and distributed at the beginning of the year. If your child outgrows their wardrobe during the year, it may be exchanged for the next size without an additional fee. MYC wardrobe items should be returned to the MYC office when a choir placement results in a new wardrobe or when a singer leaves MYC. Wardrobe items for each ensemble are listed below. (Shoes and hosiery are not included in the rented items.) We recognize that our current concert wardrobe appears traditionally gendered and are happy to discuss other options as needed. Please contact us.
- Choraliers; Con Gioia; Capriccio; Cantilena; and Cantabile
- MYC red polo shirt
- MYC black concert dress
- Black, flat dress shoes
- Black tights or hosiery
- Purcell; Britten; Holst
- MYC red polo shirt
- MYC Khaki pants; white Oxford shirt; navy jacket; and boychoir tie
- Black dress shoes, black socks, black belt
- MYC red polo shirt
- MYC tuxedo (pants, shirt, jacket, and bow tie)
- Black dress shoes, black socks
Volunteering: Parents are encouraged to share their time and talents with the Madison Youth Choirs! There are many reasons to volunteer:
- Volunteering is a great way to meet the wonderful singers and families who make up MYC.
- The organization saves money and helps keeps your costs lower when parents volunteer
- It’s fun! Really!
Parent volunteers serve as music librarians, wardrobe organizers, computer trouble-shooters, retreat chaperones, ushers, homestay hosts for visiting choirs, and many other positions. All volunteering is greatly appreciated! If you have something to share, please call the office.
Moving choirs: Auditions for singers wanting to move to the next choir in the sequence occur in late spring.
Taking into account a singer’s age, grade level, and experience, we believe each of our ensembles provides an excellent environment for a singer’s growth and musical development.
Although each ensemble is unique, our conductors all share the same dynamic teaching philosophy valuing thoughtful content and a nurturing process in rehearsals. What a singer might learn as well as contribute in an ensemble are equally considered when making placements.
Most singers, depending upon their age and experience, will sing in a particular choir for more than one year. While the timeline will be different for every singer, the philosophy is the same. It’s not a race to move to the next choir: it’s our goal that each singer have the right types of experiences in a choir, including leadership, before moving. This philosophy helps ensure the success of both individual singers and the ensemble and provides singers with the best possible comprehensive choir experience.
Although the exact process may change from season to season, the information we use to make placement decisions is the same. We look at singers’ vocal, musical, and rehearsal skills. We consider age, grade, and social development. We consider each singer’s time spent in our program. In short, we do whatever we can to get a picture of the “whole singer”.
The policy of the Madison Youth Choirs is to respect the privacy of individuals. Information gathered by the employees, independent contractors, or others working on behalf of MYC shall not be shared with any other party unless specifically authorized by the individual whose information is involved or unless MYC is legally required to provide such information.
MYC NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY: It is the policy of the Madison Youth Choirs that participation in all aspects of MYC’s programs be open to any and all. There shall be no discrimination based upon race, color, religion, sex/gender, national origin, age, disability/handicap, status or service as a veteran, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other status protected by applicable law.
This policy applies to all Madison Youth Choirs employees, independent contractors, present, prospective, and former members and their families, volunteers, donors, or third parties who interact with employees, such as customers, vendors, or other members of the public.
STATEMENT ON PERSONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOR MEMBERS OF MYC: It is the policy of the Madison Youth Choirs to have no affiliation with any religion, nor to discriminate against any individual, group, or organization on the basis of religion. Further, it is MYC policy to respect everyone’s free exercise of their religious beliefs.
MYC recognizes that two important factors influencing performances are the nature of music suitable for performance and the availability of facilities for concerts. MYC acknowledges that the history and tradition of choral music has given a rich heritage of music based on religious themes or written for specific religious purposes; and that religious edifices are often the most logical sites for public performances, either within or outside the framework of religious worship services. It is further possible for the Madison Youth Choirs to hold performances in non-religious edifices, but under the sponsorship of a religious denomination. This policy must be understood to place no limitations on the performance of any music in any venue.
This policy shall be understood to generally discourage rehearsals and performances on Saturday mornings or Sunday mornings in the Madison area so that MYC staff and members can participate in religious worship of their choice; exceptions to this policy are allowed in exceptional situations with prior consultation of both parents and MYC members. Furthermore, care shall be taken in planning for such out-of-town events, and when and if possible, appropriate alternative arrangements must be made to accommodate those staff or members wishing to attend religious worship services of their choice.
Financial Information: Tuition, Scholarships, and Deadlines
- MYC’s member financial commitment consists of two components: tuition and fundraising. MYC’s annual budget is approximately $495,000, and tuition accounts for about 40% and fundraising for an additional 20% of our total budget. The remaining 40% of MYC’s annual budget is supported through grants, foundation support, contributions from individuals and corporations, ticket sales, in-kind donations, and special events. MYC maintains an open financials policy; contact the executive director if you would like information about the current year’s budget or financial reports.
- MYC makes a commitment to provide the necessary music, conductors, teaching materials, rehearsal rooms, and administrative functions required to support the musical and personal development of each singer who registers for MYC’s programs at the beginning of the year. The actual program cost per chorister is over $1,000. Because much of these costs are still incurred even if a singer discontinues participation in choir, unpaid tuition for the season is still due. Tuition is not refundable.
- That being said, MYC understands that choir may not be for everyone or family schedules may conflict with choir rehearsal. Therefore, if a singer decides to withdraw from MYC prior to September 30, 2019, all tuition except a $50 administrative fee is fully refundable. After that date, the full tuition is still due even if a singer withdraws.
Please note: tuition does not include the $20 concert wardrobe rental fee nor concert tickets.
TUITION AND FUNDRAISING PAYMENT SCHEDULE
- Tuition is due in full by July 12, 2019. You have the option to break up your payments if paying in full by July 12, 2019, is not possible. Incremental payments may be made following the schedule below with at least one third tuition paid by July 12. All tuition must be paid in full by November 4, 2019. MYC will provide updated statements throughout the season.
TUITION DEPOSIT: Due with Intention form or registration (for singers that join mid-season)
- PAYMENT #1 DUE: July 12, 2019
- PAYMENT #2 DUE: September 16, 2019
- PAYMENT #3 DUE: November 4, 2019
|CHOIR||ANNUAL TUITION||FAMILY FUNDRAISING CONTRIBUTION GOAL|
Payments may be made by check, money order, cash, or credit card. All payments (except for credit card transactions) may be mailed to the administrative offices or submitted in the drop box at rehearsal. Credit card payments may be made by using the PayPal link on our Members page (additional fees apply). Include your singer’s full name, choir, and purpose on each payment to ensure your payment is recorded correctly. When paying for various items with one check, please write that information on the check or include a note. If your financial circumstances change throughout the year and you need scholarship assistance or an alternative payment plan, please contact us.
Referral Program: MYC raises program awareness and recruits members through a variety of marketing activities, including advertising, teacher mailings, fliers, press releases, but there is no better recruiting tool than word of mouth. To encourage our families to share their MYC experience with friends and family, any current MYC family who introduces a new member to the choir will receive a $50 credit on their tuition if that new member joins a performing choir for the full season (not an introductory choir). Ask the prospective family to mention your name when their singer auditions or submits their registration materials.
Fundraising: Fundraising is one way MYC attempts to make participation more affordable for our families. The family fundraising contribution goal for each family is $200 and MYC provides a number of ways to participate in fundraising including: volunteering at Brat Fest, Madison Marathon, Taste of Madison, selling fair trade coffee, and poinsettias. More information is available in the Fundraising section of this handbook.
Tax Deductible Donations to Fundraising through the It’s My Choir Campaign: This campaign will begin in February, 2020, and information will be provided to each family at that time.
Financial Aid: Madison Youth Choirs will never deny membership to any singer on the basis of financial need. Full and partial tuition scholarships are awarded based on demonstrated financial need as well as the funds available at the time of the request. Scholarship forms are made available to all choristers at the beginning of the season. Although assistance is generally awarded at the beginning of the season, MYC is willing to consider an application if an unplanned situation arises mid-year (such as a loss of job). Scholarship decisions are determined by need and are kept strictly confidential; the artistic staff has no knowledge of the awards. Everyone is asked to participate in fundraising regardless of their status of financial need. Scholarships are funded through grants, foundations, and individual donations.
Fundraising is a vital part of the Madison Youth Choirs’ financial health. The suggested family fundraising contribution, like tuition, is an essential component of MYC participation.
1. HOW MUCH WILL EACH FAMILY BE ASKED TO RAISE?
- Each family is asked to raise $200 regardless of the number of children participating in MYC.
2. HOW DO WE RAISE $200?
- MYC provides a number of ways to help families reach their $200 goal–through fundraising sales, work opportunities and the It’s My Choir Campaign. The primary means will be through the It’s My Choir Campaign–a direct donation appeal initiated by individual singers. The It’s My Choir Campaign will begin in February and more information will be available at that time.
- At the beginning of the year, the administrative staff will create a file for your family. As fundraising sales are tallied, your sales will be translated into a profit amount, which will be applied towards your commitment. In addition, any donation amount you contribute will be counted towards your fundraising commitment. In an effort to save postage and paper costs, MYC emails account statements several times during the season to help you keep track of tuition and fundraising payments. You are also welcome to call or email the managing director at any time to check the status of your account. If you notice any discrepancies between your records and the statement, please contact us immediately.
- Account statements will help you keep track of how close you are to reaching your family fundraising goal. Because the family fundraising contributions are an essential piece of our overall budget and allow us to keep tuition affordable for all families, we hope everyone will meet their goal of raising $200 throughout the season.
5. WHAT IF WE EXCEED OUR CONTRIBUTION GOAL?
- Going “above and beyond” is encouraged as it helps our bottom line and provides additional funds toward scholarships and programming. Thank you for enthusiastically supporting the Madison Youth Choirs!
Fundraising sales are announced as they become available. We are currently planning to offer fair trade coffee through Just Coffee on a monthly basis and poinsettias in late fall just before the holidays. All selling opportunities will be communicated through our weekly email to families.
Each year we evaluate the participation rate and success of each sale to determine the sales for the next year to make fundraising easier for families, promote “mission based” fundraising activities, and protect MYC from losses.
MYC understands that selling isn’t for everyone and is always looking for alternatives for families to meet their fundraising goal. Here are two alternatives:
- Direct Donation through the It’s My Choir campaign: It’s really easy; just collect donations from friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc…toward your child’s participation in MYC. This campaign will launch in February, 2020.
- Memorial Day Brat Fest, Taste of Madison, and Madison Marathon: These events provide volunteers with the opportunity to earn $8-$10 per hour toward their fundraising goal. Shift availability is announced via our Weekly Notes and are filled directly through the festival websites on a first-come, first-served basis.
Other ways you can help
- DO YOU WORK FOR A COMPANY THAT HAS A CHARITABLE FOUNDATION OR MAKES CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE ARTS, YOUTH, or EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS? If you work for a company that has a charitable foundation or makes contributions to like-minded programs, contact us. Many companies make funding decisions based on employee involvement or support; please consider being an MYC advocate in your workplace by writing support letters for funding proposals, sharing your personal story with a foundation representative, and/or inviting co-workers to MYC events. You don’t have to be the company president to make a difference.
- DOES YOUR COMPANY HAVE A MATCHING GIFT PROGRAM? If you make a donation to MYC you can double your donation by taking advantage of your company’s matching gift program. If your co-workers make a donation, encourage them to fill out the company’s matching gift form to increase the impact of their gift. Contact the managing director if you need any organizational information to enroll MYC in your program.
- USE THE AMAZON AFFILIATE LINK WHEN PURCHASING AT AMAZON.COM Using the affiliate link to make purchases at amazon.com results in a steady stream of donated corporate dollars for MYC. Thank you for clicking the link every time you purchase from amazon.com.