Dispelling 4 Middle School Myths, Part 3

Forget what you thought about middle schoolers, says member Carol Whitworth. She dispels some common myths.

MYTH # 3: Middle school choirs can’t ever sound good: False
Don’t sell yourself or students short with low expectations for musical achievement.

Your choice of literature is the most important thing.  Remember to consider:

*Vocal ranges of each part
*Appropriateness of text
*Level of difficulty of music
*How the music appeals to students
*The concepts and skills the piece offers for student learning.
*Select pieces that are easy to learn and perform well, and also one or two that require more rehearsal.
*Help kids realize the joy and satisfaction of singing all types of music.
*Encourage your students take risks, be confident, and get the support of their peers.

Rehearsals should be well prepared, fast paced, varied, organize, and fun.

*You want to leave students humming of singing something when they leave your classroom, and talking about what they did during class.

*Demand excellence in all, and “don’t settle for mediocrity simply because they’re middle schoolers”.

MYTH #4: Teaching choir at the middle school level can never be rewarding or fulfilling; “I can’t really have an impact”: FALSE

Middle school is the time when educators can perhaps have the greatest impact on students’ lives. It’s a time of “amazing discovery” for students. Their musical possibilities are limitless.

It’s a valuable opportunity to work with students of this age – don’t let the voice change and voice maturation issues throw you off.

The rewards to the students, and to you, can be immeasurable.  According to Whitworth, it’s about the small successes, as well as the big moments; you see students trying a little harder every day.

“Being a middle school music teacher and witnessing the wonderful musical growth that takes place during those three short years is unbelievably fulfilling. I propose you forget what you may have heard or believed to be true about teaching middle school, and enjoy these great kids!”

Adapted from “I teach middle school choir: No sympathy necessary”; Carol Whitworth, Chinook Middle School, WA; from the Washington Music Educators Association journal VOICE, October, 2009

Sue Rarus, November 2, 2011, © National Association for Music Education