March 25, 2016     Melody Potratz

Feeding the Soul During a Busy School Year


This blog was written by guest blogger Melody Potratz, as part of our First Year Music Teacher Series. Ms. Potratz is in her first year of teaching middle school choir at River City Middle School in Post Falls, Idaho. 

The Third Quarter Exhaustion Kicks In

We’re two weeks away from the end of the third quarter (what?!) and I am completely exhausted. Why is this time of year so hard? I’m tired all the time, my caffeine consumption has skyrocketed, and as time passes, I understand more and more the true meaning of the expression “working for the weekend.” It has been a fascinating journey to the discovery of just how much time of year, moon cycles, and anticipation of holidays and breaks have an effect on behavior. I admit that I stuck up my nose at all this business about the full moon, but I don’t have any other logical explanation for the consistent chaos around that time and I humbly accept that there will always be surprises.

Not all the surprises have been bad. This quarter, I have learned that it pays off to lay a good foundation for vocal technique and music theory. I am astounded by the quick pace at which my students are learning new music and I am having to think of new activities to keep them engaged in learning. My sixth graders, who couldn’t read music and struggled to sing simple rounds in September, are currently singing a song in three parts! The moral of the story: teaching technique and theory to beginners is stressful and frustrating but so worth it.

Participating in My First ACDA Panel

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend this year’s conference in Seattle, Washington for the Northwest division of the American Choral Directors Association and honored to have been asked to present. I, along with four other choir directors from around the Northwest, each at various stages (but still early stages) of our careers, served on a panel to answer questions and give advice to future teachers for a successful first year. The crowd was small as it was bright and early on Sunday morning, but every person on the panel made such valuable contributions and I was relieved to discover that most of them had thoughts and experiences similar to mine.

Feeding My Soul

I have attended a handful of ACDA conferences over the last few years and my favorite part has always been the reading sessions. I love to discover new choir music and, well, I just love to sing. This time around, it occurred to me as I was getting a bit misty-eyed during a reading session that I have not been feeding myself. The to-do list seems never ending: lesson plans, grades, find a new accompanist, order music, professional development, staff meeting, conferences, workout group, oil change, laundry, EAT, SLEEP, etc. I am beginning to understand that my to-do list will never completely disappear and I need to make time to feed my own soul.  I am certain that I am not alone in this, so can we all agree to take care of ourselves? Hopefully I will have joined a choir by the next time you hear from me. Happy fourth quarter, friends!

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