Reply To: Sight Singing in beginning choir
As a general music teacher, I start with a lot of echo, which I know is the opposite of sight singing (or chanting of rhythms). But at least that gets them feeling patterns and using their mouth. After they know a set of patterns, have them decode them by listening to you chant and picking that pattern out of a line up. You could make that a game! Then split the class in two and have one person from each side learn a unique pattern and find their partner on the team by singing and listening to each other. As they get into these habits of hearing patterns and singing them, they will be more willing to sing alone. The more games you can create with them doing something with a pattern the more participation I think you’ll get.
Then I bet your sight singing books might step in with singing monotone patterns to rhythm, showing them going up one step and back down…down a step and back up…. etc. But I agree, getting 5th and 6th graders to even open their mouths productively is the biggest challenge!