What is "Mystery Musician" and How I Implement it in my Choir Rehearsals
"Mystery Musician" is a term I came up for a way to implement a small piece of my classroom management system.

Can I just call out something I HATE about the modern educational movement? I HATE prize boxes and reward systems. There, I said it. BUT, that said, I do utilize one in a very rudimentary way that focuses on developing habits in my choir singers that I want to develop. In my experience, this has worked best for grades 3rd-7th, but you could likely adapt it for older or younger singers.

Read to the end for some winner items I've included in my "Mystery Musician" box that my students love, is NOT edible, and doesn't break the bank.

But first. What is the "Mystery Musican" and how do I use it?
A "Mystery Musician" is someone who...
  • Is organized. They have their materials (music folder and pencil) and come prepared to rehearsal if they were given a practice assignment.
  • Works hard. They use our time well during rehearsal.
  • Stays focused. He or she does not distract others during class but pays attention to what page we are on.
  • Helps others. If their neighbor doesn't know what page we are on or where I am at, they help them find their spot without causing others to get distracted.
  • Tells the story of the piece of music. They express emotions when they sing, making the audience feel happy, sad, or excited based on what we are singing. They use a smile or engaged face to draw the audience in!
  • Follow the leader. They follow their conductor's directions really well. It's important for everyone to listen and work together as a team!
  • Are curious! Mystery musicians are always learning. Their goal is to become even better singers! There is always something new to learn or discover.
There you have it! I reinforce these characteristics with my students during class by saying things like, "Wow, I see the mystery musician is sitting tall with eyes on the conductor, ready to see when she will start the piece." or maybe, "Thank you, mystery musician, for remembering to bring your music folder with you before class started! If you forgot yours, no biggie, go grab it from your bag after warm-ups are done."

This allows me to teach these habits to my singers without singling anyone out in either a positive or negative way -- and it keeps my students focused on what they are doing rather than what someone else did or didn't do. Many students may be demonstrating mystery musician traits that day, but I try to think of who that singer is as soon as they walk in the door. If that person doesn't really demonstrate these traits that day, I just pick someone else at the end of class who was and circle back around to that student another day.

So, do you do something similar in your classroom? If so, how is it similar or different to how I do it!

Oh! And bonus: 4 Winner Items I add to my box that students LOVE:
1) TINY duckies! I don't know why, but my students are OBSESSED with these cute little guys.
2) Cute erasers -- these are always a hit! I look for different ones each time I need a restock to change things up.
3) Music stickers -- can't get these anywhere else they know of (not in bulk!)
4) Jumping frog toys -- so simple, and so fun!

These have lasted my box YEARS, and I just add a new item or replenish a favorite item around once per year to change things up and keep it fresh. Cheap and fun!


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