Mahtomedi High School Choirs


Devoting ourselves to being a team of musicians



Student Handbook


A Team of Musicians


            Welcome to the 2019 -2020 Mahtomedi High School choir program!  Our mission statement is devoting ourselves to being a team of musicians.  This refers both to how we sing, and to how we interact with each other.  It is important that every student and staff member in our program make a strong commitment to uphold our high standards not only at performances, but also at every rehearsal.  I ask each of you to accept the challenge of working hard to achieve stunning artistic results.  At public performances, it is expected that you reflect the dedication and knowledge gained in rehearsals to have an emotional impact on our audiences and ourselves.  Your role as a community member is an important one in many ways, including your growth in accepting and respecting each other’s uniqueness.  I am looking forward to working with each of you as you grow as musicians and human beings.


Mr. Chad Garrels – Choir Director 651-762-5978



The goals of the MHS Choir Program are:

1. To increase musical knowledge and literacy

2. To develop healthy/efficient vocal habits

3. To develop self-confidence in a safe, collaborative community

4. To provide new musical experiences for our audiences and ourselves

5. To increase enjoyment of music listening

6. To develop skills to analyze music and formulate informed opinions about interpretation

7. To discover how music can greatly enhance our lives beyond high school


Classroom (Community) Basic Understandings:

  1. Exhibit positive and effective behavior in class and on stage
    1. Respect:  We will take pride in respecting classmates, staff members, and property.  Develop a “listening attitude” in following class expectations.  Gum chewing, disruptive talking, tardiness, texting, and other disrespectful behaviors are unacceptable in choir.  They hurt each other and create a climate of discontent.  Hold each other accountable for being responsible and respectful.
    2. Contributions:  Work on development of efficient, expressive vocal skills, positive participation, and present an eagerness and willingness to grow – even in some of the areas that are not your favorites.
    3. Leadership:  Set examples of positive self-discipline, learn music quickly to help others with their parts, take initiative in all class activities.  Be on time and accountable to your classmates and our musical product.


  1. Consequences for students who choose negative behaviors in the choir program:

Step 1:  Verbal warning in class.

Step 2:  Conference with teacher outside of classroom.

Step 3:  Written referral to assistant principal, phone call to parent/guardian.


  1. School and District Policies for Student Behavior

You are responsible for knowing and abiding by the Zephyr school expectations and MSHSL policies.  Violations will affect the entire group, and show a lack of respect for your classmates and yourself.  Please understand that Mr. Garrels believes in these rules.  He believes that alcohol, drugs, tobacco and other destructive behaviors will prevent students from achieving the success they deserve.  Be healthy!


  1. Harassment

Music is internationally understood as an art form that brings people of diverse backgrounds and opinions together.  Harassment in the choir program will not be tolerated.  If Mr. Garrels is unaware of a harassment issue, it is the responsibility of a student to bring it to his attention.  Do your part to solve simple disagreements and report the serious issues to him.  ANY harassment needs to be reported to Mr. Garrels.  Human beings can disagree and still treat each other with integrity and respect.


  1. Choir Folders and Music

You are responsible for your folder and the contents therein.  If music is lost or damaged, you may be assessed the current replacement cost.  Take your folders home to practice, but make sure they are returned the next day.  Forgetting your music is no different than showing up for math class without your math book.


  1. Concert Attire

Assigned robe, black dress shoes (no heels are preferred), black socks (above the ankles), black dress pants (no jeans, leggings or yoga pants), t-shirt or shirt which the collar does not show above the robe. 


Belles Voix, our treble choir, may not be wearing robes because our inventory is low.  This choir will wear the same as the other choirs from the waist down.  The uniform shirt will be a completely black shirt that is short sleeve, three-quarter length sleeve or long sleeve.


  1. Musical Standards

You will be expected to understand the meaning of musical notation, music reading skills, vocal skills presented in class, and your own voice part.  You will be assessed by Mr. Garrels in these areas.  There will be help available from him and from section leaders.  Please take advantage of this opportunity to become more confident on your part.


  1. Fundraising

We will be raising funds for choir activities, materials and equipment.  These funds are to be used for choir activities only.  There will be times when a student can fund-raise toward the cost of choir apparel or field trips. ZPAF (Zephyr Performing Arts Foundation) will be handling the fundraising efforts beginning this year.




MHS Choir Grading & Attendance Policies

All students in music at MHS will earn their grade based upon formative (20%) and summative (80%) assessments.  These assessments will be based on the following criteria.


Ensemble Skills/In Class Assignments

This will be based on the student’s contribution in rehearsals and their effort to display a positive attitude toward choir.  Ensemble skills/in class assignments includes the following areas:

Class Attitude

  • No cell phone use
  • No disruptive talking
  • No disruptive/disrespectful behavior
  • No gum chewing

Class Contribution

  • Displaying proper vocal skills
  • Positive participation
  • Eagerness to learn
  • Setting an example of positive self-discipline
  • Class leadership…taking the initiative
  • Every person must bring a pencil to rehearsal



Students are graded on sight-reading, part testing, and written work.  The assessment may be based upon the objective areas of rhythmic, dynamic and pitch accuracy, breath control, support and sound placement.  Students will be asked to take written tests on knowledge of note names, key signatures, rhythms, intervals, music vocabulary, composition, and the analysis of music and texts studied in class.


Performance Participation

  • Students are required to attend all performances and listen to all other groups. Concert absences due to illness or family tragedy will be excused provided a parent/guardian sends an email to Mr. Garrels to report the absence. An appropriate make-up assignment will be given. Work, transportation, and other absences of that nature will not be excused. Line up your ride and get off work well in advance.
  • Students will be asked to do self-evaluations and goal setting after each concert using evaluation tools provided by Mr. Garrels.

Concert Attendance Policy

Since concerts are an extension of our classroom activities, we expect all students to attend each performance and we use this as one of the grading proficiencies for every quarter.  It is recognized, however, that there will occasionally be absences.  There are three types of absences.

Authorized absence with prior notification

School related athletic/activity event (not practice), family vacations

Make-up work required for grade.


Excused absence with notification after the event

Student illness or family emergency (parent/guardian please email Mr. Garrels)

Make-up work required for grade.


Unexcused absence

No prior notification:  skipping concert, leaving concert early, work conflict

This type of absence cannot be made up.



  • Students will be asked to listen to and evaluate various genres of music during class.
  • Students will be responsible for keeping a “Listening Journal” for the student-led listening on Fridays. Students who lose their journals will not receive credit. Please bring and keep track of your own journal!
  • Students will be expected to cite specific examples from the music to support their opinions.


Choir Opportunities

1. Voice Lessons:  The voice is a complex instrument.  Each person’s voice has unique and special qualities.  Mr. Garrels has found that our most successful vocalists study privately.  If you are interested in private voice lessons, there are several options available to you.

    1. Mr. Garrels will be available on a limited basis before and after school and during 6th hour to help students who are struggling with parts and/or sight-singing, students preparing scholarship auditions and honor choir/all-state choir audtions, etc.  Sign up for before and after school lessons personally with Mr. Garrels so he gets it written in his schedule.
    2. You can register to have private voice lessons with our in-house private voice teacher, Mary Dahl.  Mary teaches 25 minute voice lessons during your choir period and flex time.  More information will be given at the start of each semester.
    3. Lessons from professional studio voice teachers are also available after school and evenings in various locations.  See Mr. Garrels for the names and phone numbers of quality voice teachers.  Please check the name of your voice teacher with Mr. Garrels, as he is concerned that you receive instruction in healthy, efficient singing.

2. Extra-Curricular Vocal Ensembles:  The following extra-curricular (before/after school and during Flex time) ensembles may be offered this year.

  1.  TBB/TTB Ensemble – TTB unlimited number of participants.  No audition is needed and tenors and basses do not need to be in choir to participate.  Rehearsals will be from 7:00 to 7:45 once a week.
  2. A cappella group(s) – Audition will be required.  All grade levels are encouraged to audition.  Rehearsals will be during one Flex time and at least one morning a week.
  3. Other groups that there is a need for.  Please feel free to suggest a group that you are interested in.
  1. Solo/Ensemble Contests:  Students may work on solos, duets, and ensembles for contests.  The music for these contests must be selected with the help of Mr. Garrels, Joan Fitch or your private voice instructor.  There are certain musical standards that these contests require, so make sure your music is approved and you take lessons on your piece!  There are several contests in the spring, so start preparing in the fall.  There may also be recital opportunities at MHS for those who wish to perform for an audience.

4.  Audition Opportunities:

  • 9th & 10th graders have the opportunity to audition for a statewide honor choir.  The audition deadline is the end of October. 
  • Concert Choir members have the opportunity to participate in the All-Conference Choir in January. 
  • 10th and 11th graders are eligible to audition for All-State in March. 
  • All grade levels can audition for the Regional ACDA Honor Choir.

5.  Choir Accompanists:  If you are an accomplished pianist, why not give accompanying a try?  See Mr. Garrels or Joan if you are interested!

6.  Choir Letters:  You may earn a letter in choir by participating in school-related choir activities outside the regular choir class.  There will be a list posted with point values at a later date.

7.  Practice Rooms:  Practice rooms are available throughout the day for individual practice.  See one of the music teachers to have a door unlocked.  Please be nice to the pianos.




Student Name: _________________________ Grade:     9     10     11     12


Choir:  Dolce Armonia-9th Grade Choir   /   Belles Voix-Treble Choir   /   Concert Choir

(circle one)


By signing this, I am accepting responsibility for the policies of the MHS choir program.  I understand the concert schedule and the policy for excused/unexcused concert absences.


Student Signature ________________________________ Date __________


Parent/Guardian Signature _________________________ Date __________


Parent/Guardian email address ____________________________________








Our Mission

The mission of Mahtomedi High School, a driven and supportive family of Zephyrs whose individual growth enriches the community as a whole, is to ensure a transformational experience in which students are life-long learners and empathetic community members equipped with the desire and ability to explore their passions through a vital system distinguished by:

  • inclusive and safe environments where all Zephyrs belong and advocate for one another through authentic relationships
  • a culture that seeks out and honors diverse and global perspectives
  • dynamic educational experiences for varied interests
  • embracing the discomfort of setbacks as an important part of the learning process
  • a community that recognizes that success comes in many forms
Mahtomedi High School ISD #832
Our School
Mahtomedi High School has a heart for innovation, provides rigorous academic coursework, and supports students to explore extracurricular opportunities. Our teachers and staff are passionate and dedicated people who explore innovative ideas and teach our students new ways of thinking to support them in whatever career path they choose. Students engage in project-based learning to solve real-world problems using industry-standard technology in the nation’s first M.I.T. certified FabLab housed in a public school. Fine arts is a vital and robust part of the High School and our visual and performing arts classes include ceramics, digital art, choir, band, and event broadcasting. We also offer Flex Time during the school day when students may receive academic support, engage in college and career exploration, and connect over common interests. Over 90% of our student community engages in extracurricular activities that range from athletics to robotics. Students’ social and emotional learning is addressed through various avenues including a restorative practices approach for student behavior and through our Zephyr Link Crew mentoring program.