Reply To: How to Create an Attitude of Try

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Sounds to me like you need some character development and team building. Your singers must feel safe. Musically your doing the right things. How often do you spend time with your students having group discussions and sharing personal stuff? I like to do what my students call “circle time”. We sit on the floor in a circle and have a discussion. Sometimes its open, other times we go around the circle and have everyone participate. Last week the question I tossed out to the class was “what in your life has value and meaning?” I explained what I meant by value and then I told them something in my life that I hold dear to me. Everyone must answer and you have to emphasize that no one reacts to anything anyone says; just listen and digest. You may be surprised to find out what’s going on in your student’s lives. In one of my classes last week one student answered, “This country. I hope I get to stay here. We were in court this week with immigration and my parents may get deported.” (she was born in the U.S.) Another activity is to split them into small groups of about 5, Make sure that the students are not with their usual “pod” of friends. Give them some guidance as to what to discuss in their circle. Give the groups about 10 minutes on a topic to discuss. There are many questions that you can open up for discussion that will lead the students into being more thoughtful and working together as a team. Try asking them to talk about when have they been hurt by someone’s words. Then ask them to talk about when they’ve hurt others with their words. Often, especially in choir, the students stand next to their group of friends and even in smaller ensembles they don’t know anything about other choristers, including their names. Try a retreat with them for a day away from school. Rehearse a bit, eat together, have some team building activities, etc. Getting kids to buy into what you’re doing sometimes is a matter of them getting to know each other a little better–share tears and laughter in a safe environment. Hope this helps,