Vocal Music Handbook

 Dear Singers,

Welcome to the Washington High School Vocal Music Department! We are excited that you have chosen to become a member of the WHS choral program. Your membership in this program indicates your interest in music and your willingness to develop and use your talents. The choral program, through Washington Singers, Gospel Choir, Vivace, Celebration, Momentum, Madrigal Singers, A Slice of Jazz, Varsity Chorale, and Concert Choir, and related activities, offers members the opportunity to learn a variety of choral literature, to perform in a variety of settings, and to make friends with students who have similar interests and talents.

This handbook is designed to assist in acquainting both parents and students with the policies and procedures of the Vocal Music Department. Please review and familiarize yourself with the information contained in this handbook so that together we may work to maintain the high standards and traditions of excellence associated with the Washington High School Vocal Music Department.

We look forward to working with you in a collaborative effort to produce outstanding musical performance and to experience the special joy that making music brings.

Dr. Gerald Kreitzer
Mr. Matthew Armstrong


Choral studies at Washington High School seek to provide students with an understanding of the human voice and its use, an overview of music history through the performance of various styles of choral literature, an understanding of basic music concepts, and performance and listening skills.

Each trimester, the ensembles will study and prepare choral literature to be presented at specified concerts, festivals, and competitions. Students enrolled in Vocal Music Department ensembles will be expected to perform in all concerts scheduled for their particular ensemble.

Washington Singers

Washington Singers is a freshmen mixed choir that performs in five concerts during the school year.  Several years ago, Washington Singers also sang in the Cedar Rapids Young Artists Festival in May.

Singers in this ensemble have the opportunity to audition for the Opus Ninth Grade State Honors Choir by preparing an audition tape with the directors. More information about Opus will be forthcoming. They may also participate in the State Solo and Ensemble Contest in April.

No audition is required for membership in this ensemble.

Gospel Choir

Gospel Choir is a mixed choir of students in all grades that performs gospel music in school and community concerts during the school year.

No audition is required for membership in this ensemble.

Vivace Show Choir

Vivace is an all-Freshmen auditioned show choir. Vivace performs in school concerts, and participates in show choir competitions around the state. Vivace also prepares classical choral music for the State Large Group Contest in May.

Varsity Chorale

Varsity Chorale is a mixed choir of students in grades 10-12 that performs in school concerts and State Large Group Contest in May. Singers may also participate in the State Solo and Ensemble Contest in April. No audition is required for membership in this ensemble.

Celebration and Momentum Show Choirs

Celebration and Momentum are all auditioned show choirs of students in grades 10-12. These groups will all sing in school concerts as well as represent Washington High School in show choir competitions around the Midwest.

A Slice of Jazz

A Slice of Jazz is a 16-voice select mixed choir of students in grades 10-12.

Slice performs for numerous school and community events throughout the school year, and members have the opportunity to audition for the Iowa All-State Jazz Choir in January. This ensemble also competes in various vocal jazz festivals and competitions; most recently singing in New York City′s Carnegie Hall.

Auditions for A Slice of Jazz are held in the spring.

Madrigal Singers

Madrigal Singers is a 28-32 voice mixed choir of sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Madrigal Singers repertoire is primarily selected from the Renaissance Period and sung a capella.  Madrigal Singers, along with Concert Choir, have been featured ensembles at the Music Educators National Conference and American Choral Directors Association conventions throughout America. Auditions for Madrigal Singers are in the spring of the year.

Concert Choir

The Washington High School Concert Choir is a 100+ voice auditioned mixed choir made up of students in grades 11-12. Concert Choir performs in school concerts, and students in this ensemble also have the opportunity to audition for the Iowa All-State Choir. Concert Choir members sing the national anthem for sports events at WHS, and these singers also participate in the State Solo and Ensemble and State Large Group Contests.



Washington Singers- $15.00 per year

Gospel Choir- no fee

Varsity Chorale- $15.00 per year

A Slice of Jazz- no fee

Concert Choir- $15.00 per year

Madrigal Singers- $45.00 per year

Vivace, Celebration, and Momentum- as per budgets



Washington Singers, Varsity Chorale, and Concert Choir

Women: Tan nylons and dark dress shoes under robe and stole

Men: Black pants, black socks and shoes under robe and stole

Gospel Choir

As assigned by director


Vivace, Celebration and Momentum Show Choirs

As assigned by director


Madrigal Singers

Women: Black Madrigals dress with black nylons and dress shoes

Men: Black tux with black cummerbund and bow tie, white tux shirt & studs

A Slice of Jazz

Student selected formal wear in black, gold and silver colors



Students will be expected to be prompt for each rehearsal. Rehearsals begin with important departmental announcements and vocal warm-ups designed to prepare the singing mechanism. It is imperative that all students participate in these opening rehearsal procedures.


The Vocal Music Department is proud of the outstanding accomplishments of the choirs and individual members of the program. The continued success of the ensembles is dependent upon the daily contribution of each member. Each individual must approach every rehearsal with high expectations and a willingness to work toward the fulfillment and realization of those expectations. Students will be expected to:

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the importance of rehearsal time. (Be in their seats with their folder and all necessary materials at the bell. A PENCIL IS REQUIRED FOR ALL REHEARSALS)
  • Focus all their mental energy to the director and choral literature. (No talking during rehearsals.)
  • Focus all their physical energy to the correct application of good singing technique. (Sit tall, breathe deep, sing with space)
  • Demonstrate respect for the rehearsal facilities and equipment. (no playing piano prior to rehearsal, keep the room clean)
The choirs are working and learning organizations with high expectations and goals. Students interfering with the learning process of the choir or any of it′s members, not participating fully in rehearsal activities, or otherwise presenting negative rehearsal behavior will receive academic penalty and possible reevaluation of their continued participation.


Student′s grades will be determined following a rubric using these criteria:

  • Daily rehearsal preparation and participation
  • Evaluation of individual performance in concerts and
  • Public performances
  • Written work
Students will be evaluated on the quality of their daily participation, application of proper singing technique in rehearsal and performance, and satisfactory completion of written work. In addition, students in all ensembles will be required to demonstrate proficiency on their literature by performing individually or in small ensembles for academic evaluation.


Students participating in courses offered by the Vocal Music Department at Washington High School will study and perform a variety of choral literature. The selection of literature is determined by the instructor based on the following criteria:

The literature will aid the physical development and function of the vocal mechanism

The literature will include representation from the historical periods of Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Twentieth Century.

The literature will be of composers of historical significance or those that represent valid programming opportunities.

The literature will represent a wide variety of text sources and types.

It is our goal to familiarize students with quality choral literature that will provide historical and global perspective, and create a positive awareness of musical aesthetics.

Concert Choir will be assigned numbered folders and music, and all singers are encouraged to take those folders home to practice. Singers are responsible for their folder and music; lost items (folders, music, robes etc.) will be charged to the student′s account. Washington Singers and Varsity Chorale will keep a three-ring binder of choral music for their respective ensemble.


Students are expected to know the material covered in class. Music will be memorized for performances, which may require extra study time spent outside of class rehearsal. Students will be given written assignments that are expected to be completed in a timely and thorough manner.


Performing groups in the Vocal Music Department requires a commitment to be present not only for classroom activities, but for out-of-school class performances and presentations as well. Parents and students should review the calendar together and make arrangements to be present at all out-of-class performances and presentations. The following extenuating circumstances will be honored as an APPROVED ABSENCE from a performance:

Personal Illness: The parent is to notify the director PRIOR to the performance.

Family Emergency: The parent is to notify the director PRIOR to the performance.

Unapproved absences from pre-scheduled performances will negatively affect the student′s grade.

Students frequently represent Washington High School off-campus. School rules apply while participating in school-sponsored trips and exemplary behavior is expected. Singers will provide their directors with a parent permission slip as well as a medical information form prior to trips off-campus. Those who will miss normal class time for a trip must inform and secure teacher approval with an orange slip provided by your director.




Opus Certificates- Presented to students accepted into the Ninth Grade Opus Honors Choir.

All-State Certificates- Presented to students accepted in the All-States Honors Choir.

Dougherty Senior Award- Presented to a senior as selected by music faculty.

Andrews Award- Presented to a senior as selected by music faculty.

American Choral Directors Award- Presented to a senior as selected by music faculty.


2003-2004 School Year


I, __________________________________, agree to the following statement concerning my participation in any co-curricular activity (i.e. music ensembles, drama, sports, cheerleading, etc..)


I will not use alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs while participating in this activity.

If I admit to, or am found guilty of violating this contract, I shall be declared ineligible for participation in competition or public performances. I understand that my consequences are as follows:

  • First offense: one-third season of ineligibility
  • Second offense: two-third season of ineligibility
  • Third offense: one calendar year of ineligibility
If there is no scheduled performance of competition within this time, ineligibility will apply to the next scheduled competition/performance.


Signature ________________________________ Date_________________


Group(s) _____________________________________________________

Parent Signature___________________________ Date_______________