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People Power
edited by Laurie Lackey


Planning Your Year's Program: People Power

By: Harold Haddox (Vibrations, Fall 1994); edited by Laurie Lackey

In most articles about program planning, there are suggestions about equipment, choirs, rehearsals, schedules, etc.  These are helpful because they provide direction for what we already know (and may have forgotten) as well as a check list of things to do.

However, as important as the above is, the heart of any program is people.  Without them, nothing else matters.  So let's spend a few minutes discussing people in the planning stages for this year's program.

Look back to last year.  With pencil and paper make a list of strengths and weaknesses of your ringers.  As you do this, ask yourself questions such as: are you losing ringers? do you need more ringers? do you need substitute ringers? do you need to shift people to different bells? do some need training? are there people who would enjoy being in a choir? etc.

Now divide your people into three groups, strong ringers, weak ringers and new ringers, and understand that each needs to be approached differently.

First, you quickly realize that strong ringers are the backbone of your bell choir.  They are regular in attendance and are often bored for lack of activity.  You seldom have to correct them more than once.  How do you keep these people interested when there are others in the choir who can't "keep up" with them?  I suggest that you plan for solos and ensembles using these ringers.  You can also use them to help others and train less experienced ringers.

Weak ringers fall into the second category.  These people are usually the most regular in attendance and create the most problems.  My experience is that you move them to positions where they ring more frequently for this provides opportunity for their growth.  Moving them to a position which is less active creates problems and frustration for both the director and the ringer.  You may give them fewer bells and ask for extra time to be coached by you or strong ringers.  They know they need it but are often afraid to ask for help, so asking them solves two problems, their hesitance and your solution.

The third group is the new ringer.  Don't expect him/her to become experienced by just teaching the proper way to ring a bell.  To go from new ringer to strong ringer, training is needed whether the ringers are adult, youth or children.  As you analyze your people, perhaps your plan now calls for creating a new bell or chime choir to teach music reading and ringing skills.  Those who are properly trained eventually grow into strong ringers.

When your plans become "people" oriented, your program grows.  The scheduling, the equipment, performance, all the facets of a program are brought into focus and you find yourself in the midst of a dynamic situation.  Cultivate and work with your people and you will have a successful program.