Reply To: How to Create an Attitude of Try
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Thank you for the reply. Here is some more information about my situation.
There are 35 singers in the choir, 3 of whom are special ed students, 2 very soft but lovely tenors, 1 new and insecure bass who sings too softly to be heard, and 1 bass who sings in a loud monotone most of the time. I’ve had the men double the soprano line, sing a baritone part alone (SAB), sing baritone with a couple of women joining them, had them choose their own part on SSA arrangements, none of these seems to be a good solution.
The women can sing SSA music pretty well, especially when I mix them up on the parts and put strongs singers in all sections. Most of my strong singers still choose soprano 1 if it is up to them. For our fall music I assigned the parts but there was so much grumbling about singing anything other than soprano 1 that I allowed them to choose their parts on some of the holiday music. In the spring I will choose their parts on all of the music. I have them sing S1 on one song, S2 on the next, A on the third, and so on. They hate it. Some of them hate it. The loud ones hate it, but I don’t think they all mind.
There is just the one choir at the school although I do teach the one choir at the middle school as well. The students have said they are interested in starting a jazz choir but it would have to be after school and I just don’t know if I can take it on. There is no room in the schedule to add another choir, if there was a beginning choir it would make both choirs small and the school can’t justify small class sizes.
Our closest high school is on the other side of the county and we are the stronger choir (the teacher is a friend of mine and we do work together some but not much, they may as well be on the moon even though it is only 15 miles away).
The closest University is more an hour away. There is a community college about an hour away. We have had a few visitors come and work with the choir and that is always enjoyable but fleeting. I don’t know how to maintain that level of excitement when I have to teach parts, not just the fun stuff. I have to constantly remind them of all those things we work on every day (posture, vowels, breath, etc.). It’s exhausting. They need peer models. I like the idea of having the advanced singers perform for the choir, I think this will help us.
I love your idea of having the advanced singers do a piece, however they won’t learn it on their own. Even if I made practice cd’s for them I would have to work with them a lot. They don’t listen to them. I’ve done it. Maybe I could have two separate pieces, one for the beginning singers and one for the advanced and I could have the other do worksheets or something while I work with one group.
I am not familiar with the term “ear clearing” and no I do not have access to a listening library. I spend a lot of time on youtube. I do have access to youtube at school but my computer is in my office and the speakers aren’t really loud enough to reach the whole choir. I can play things from my phone but they can’t see the choir performing which is big part of what they don’t know. I am working on getting the school to purchase a projector and Ipad for the band teacher and I to share in our classes, this might happen next year.
I have been teaching at my present schools for six years and things have definitely improved since my first few years and it has been a really possitive year overall. We performed at a local festival in October and I felt like we were on par with the other high school choir who performed there, in years past I’ve felt like they were much better than us. We all felt really good about that experience.
I want to take us to the next level but there is some bickering going on. If I am absent things really fall apart, they can’t sing without me on the piano playing their parts and there is a lot of talking when they do sing.
I want them to be independant musicians who work together as a team but we’re not quite there yet.
Thanks for the advice.