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

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Currently working on my MM Music Education, so I appreciate you posting about what you are finding difficult in your first year of teaching, since I will be teaching this upcoming Fall. This is going to sound horrible, but have you thought about introducing pop music in your classroom. Yes, I said pop music. During my student teaching I had several students who, like many of yours, were thrown into the class for several reasons and they simply didn’t want to be there. I proposed a compromise. If all the students worked hard throughout the week and we accomplished all the tasked needed, we would take the last 30 minutes of class on Friday to play whatever pop song they wanted (which is easy to do since leadsheets are so easily available). I had a few students who liked to play drums, a few who could play keyboard, and so we just had a jam session each Friday as a reward. I found that my students who were previously holding the group back were becoming more focused Monday-Thursday. This is not to say that it will work in every situation, but it worked with my kids.

Also, have you thought about making recordings of the parts for your students? I do not advocate teaching by wrote, but if you are incorporating solfege training into your daily routine, even your students who have no background in choir will be able to sight-read more efficiently overtime. But for the time being, recordings of the vocal parts and even the piano parts for them to listen to outside of class may be helpful. Granted, unmotivated students are likely not going to work outside of class unless you give them an incentive. But as I said before, it worked for my students.

Hope these ideas helped in at least some way! If you find another technique to get your students motivated I would love to know!

Christopher Langdon
Appalachian State University, MM Music Education, ’14
Campbell University, BA Music Education, ’12