Reply To: Social Interaction in the Choral Classroom

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Christine, I appreciate your feedback, and judging from your response I need to make a few things clearer. I apologize if this was not clear the first time. First off, I never allow one on one critique of anyone, unless it comes from me privately. If there is an individual student consistently struggling I take the lead and work with that student.

When I say the nature of choir is personal critique I mean that we are constantly listening to ourselves (therefore examining our own voice and blend, etc) We must listen to how our voice fits in the group, how the section sounds and how the group sounds as a whole. The current problem in both groups is a general ribbing and criticism of a group or section of students, not one on one. Student 1 doesn’t say their words in a positive way to the section, then one or two students see it as a personal attack when it is meant to make the group of 6-10 better. As I said before, I take this problem very seriously, and I’m not trying to make light of any of the issues. Student 1 is wrong and I am working with that student on how to encourage. I don’t know how to help those students who view everything that is said to the group as a personal attack.

I believe reiterating a better way to give group criticism is a great start and I appreciate the ideas about give a compliment and then a suggestion for improvement followed by how to fix it. And the reminder that I need to give positive feedback first. It is so easy to critique critique critique in preparation for judging that I know I don’t give the positive enough either.

Secondly, as an educator, I take my job very seriously to give opportunity, attention, a challenge, and support to all students, regardless of ability or development. We can argue semantics, but the bottom line is that some students are better singers & musicians than others (whatever the reason, and it doesn’t make that child better than the others, it just means they sing better). Recognizing ability and higher level of development at the secondary level does not mean that those students get preferential treatment, but it is an opportunity to teach them leadership skills, challenge them at their level, and prepare them for post secondary music education. This is not to the detriment of others. In fact the unique mix of having seniors in with freshmen is very developmentally diverse and gives a great opportunity that other teachers & classes don’t have to allow leadership, mentoring & differentiated learning to happen amongst the students.

Finally, I agree wholeheartedly with your last paragraph. I think you articulated exactly what I want to say to my kiddos. Thanks for your feedback.