Reply To: Retention in Remedial Choir
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We have all had groups like this – and I applaud your effort to educate and make your students literate.
Motivation can be enhanced by careful choice of literature that has substance and is also attractive to the students.
Consider how you have the students seated and make sure that higher functioning students are seated next to those who do less well.
It can be tough in a situation like this but i would be very positive and make a big deal out of every positive thing you see and hear.
The pacing of the rehearsal can be critical. It is very important to keep things moving quickly- try to work on any particular song in 8 to 10 minute chunks – rather than 12 to 15 minute chunks. Alternately have students standing and sitting to keep the body from becoming sedentary.
physical gestures and movements can help the development of musical concepts like phrase shape, pitch levels.
Make sure that your warm ups are fun and beneficial vocally. If you have an accompanist – make sure that you are constantly moving throughout the room and among your students. The quicker and more musically able students should be brought on board and given responsibility in the rehearsal.
I have had good luck with anchors in the rehearsal. Take small portion or musical difficulty and rehearse it first thing – when the students are fresh.
Reinforce that particular item in short bursts throughout the rehearsal to help it solidify.
Find youtube performances of the pieces you are doing – preferably by high school groups that are doing it well and periodically use them as a model.
Recordings of outstanding choral performance of interesting music can help also to break things up.
Make sure that the students have the opportunity to perform and a long term goal to help them focus their efforts.
Study recordings can be made available to help students get the sound of the music and their parts
Make sure that their sight reading opportunities occur daily and that the sight reading method is gradual enough so that the students can tackle each new challenge. Check the jensen sight reading course by Baugess. Use the music you are singing to teach reading skills as well.
Don’t be afraid to break things down into small achievable chunks.
Come up with some kind of reward or a series of rewards to help which help reinforce musical skills.
Use a detailed advanced organizer on the board so that the students know exactly what they will be doing every day.
Don’t be afraid to have the students move around the room and sing in pods – to solidify part learning.
My students love to stand on their chairs – I try to have them do that periodically to break things up.
I have found that if a talk a great deal – the students switch themselves off.
Record the choir and have them identify what they are doing well – and what can be improved.
When you rehearse them – refer to their comments and observations as you rehearse.
I hope this helps.
I’ll continue to give this some thought – and get back to you.
let me know how else I can help
Murray High School Choir Director