Reply To: Choir Help (In Way Over my Head)

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A difficult situation! I applaud you teaching the students Solfa – and your desire to make your students literate – it is indeed trying for more experienced students when you have to reteach – their less experienced or less motivated peers.
Communication with your counselors is a great idea.
Also – use the music itself as a sight reading opportunity and beak the musical tasks down into achievable chunks – so that the students are connecting as best they can with the score.
Use your more experienced singers as leaders and give them the opportunity to help prepare all singers. Tim Lautzenheizer has some amazing perspectives on empowering students and building your ensemble by investing your singers in the process.
You can control the class with attractive and wisely chosen literature. Consider some of the more accessible ‘World Music’ to keep the students engaged – I have found that it often sells itself.
At least one piece of music in the folder should be a reward piece – something the students love to sing and love to work on. The other pieces may require more work to find the reward – and it may take a few weeks before the students realize that they can enjoy it.
Music with varying levels of difficulty will help the students and help you.
Have students who are more skilled help those who are less skilled – to get solfegge written into their music.
Don’t be afraid to use recordings wisely to give the students a view of the music they are learning.
Quick pacing in the rehearsal is essential to keep things moving and defuse frustration.
If the students get stuck on a piece or on a particular portion of a piece – pull back, regroup and try again next rehearsal.
Make sure that your experienced students collaborate with you to make each rehearsal a success – this gives them ownership.
Finally – take care of yourself. Eat well, sleep well, get some exercise and find ways to reward yourself.
I have found that if I am stressed out, tired or burning the candle at both ends – my rehearsals and my students suffer. Nurture yourself and you can then nurture and serve your students better. You are worth it! Please keep me posted.
Again – kudos to you for your care, effort an desires for student success.
Alan Scott – Murray High School Choirs