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

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Oh no! It sounds like you’re in a very stressful situation right now. It’s probably too late for this semester, but in the future, I would talk to the counselor or whoever is in charge or scheduling and make sure that students don’t just end up in choir. That’s not going to make anyone a happy camper.

Life (and music) in a small town is different from bigger towns or cities. If it’s something that you’re not used to, it can be a big adjustment- I know it definitely was for me. I started off teaching in a similar situation as you- certified in band, but teaching choir, too. My choir was not very experienced, and while it was a decent size (about 30 students in a school of 75 or so), they didn’t make a ton of sound. I think sound and tone production is one of the first things to work on with students that have little musical experience. Solfege is all well and good, but maybe not the first step with these students. I also had students working on one pop song or show tune for each concert. It drove me crazy at first, but the kids loved it and they enjoyed working on fundamentals more while singing a song they enjoyed right off the bat.

In your first year in any teaching job, you really need to learn to pick your battles. Coming out of college (especially after getting a Masters!), a lot of teachers have really high standards- again, this was definitely me. You don’t have to lower your standards, just change your perspective to meet your students where they are. Can you work on reading and technique while using music that you don’t have to sell? Absolutely, but it takes a lot of creativity.

Good luck!