Choir with student who are new to singing
August 16, 2013 at 4:55 pm #27031
I am in my third year in a developing program. When I started, it had only been around for two years, and even my classes were basically there for the purpose of art credit. Last year, I got my way and had two semesters of students who were interested in performing and were quite successful. This year, due to absorbing the HS band into my schedule (in addition to HS choir and MS band classes…) students who are not even interested in singing make up the majority of the group. I have a small handful who are interested, and a few others who are willing to participate, but really don’t know how to sing parts. And the majority of the class are men.
While I am considering an option of setting up a class piano studio in the room and allowing students to work independently, I am not sure how to motivate those who simply try to hang out every day. How do I keep them active if they do not choose to sing?
I want to make sure they come to enjoy music, but those who want to audition for regional festivals, prepare for concerts and community performances and such, it is not fair to them to dial down my expectations for performance.
Any thoughts?October 4, 2013 at 10:58 pm #29934
Kids who choose to not participate: have them respond to the rehearsal. Give them a composition book and ask them to write their observations from the rehearsals: what was good, what needs more work, what didn’t go over well, what they would do differently…. okay maybe not that one haha. Have them study recordings of the pieces you are preparing. Have them use music vocabulary in their writings and take notes on the things you taught in the rehearsal. You might have a conference with these students during lunch or before school one day to discuss what they have written and what they have learned from observing and taking notes during the rehearsals.
You could also have them do a research project about a piece / composer you are teaching and have them present it to the group — teach them about the piece they are learning. This may spark a short discussion into which parts of the piece evoke which emotions or ideas and help the musicians to better understand the music they are learning. 🙂October 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm #30884
Expose the kids to choral music. How often do kids listen to choral music? Never. The answer is never. Choral music is lame, old, all about god, easy, and stupid, right? Wrong! But that’s what a lot of students think. Show them that’s it’s not. Start every class blasting Carmina Burana on your stereo or something with passion that will give them passion. Make them want to be Fritz Wunderlich and sing some Schubert Lieder! They can do it. They just need to want to first.November 24, 2013 at 3:35 pm #33349
The key here is getting your students interested first in music and second in choral music and singing. As suggested above, it is very valuable to get them listening and responding to recordings of all kinds. As students do this, they are learning to respond aesthetically and better yet, in a measurable way where they can be graded. In all high school choirs, I have often done a quick listening exercise each day. In a group like yours, that might be the bulk of the lessons for awhile. A great bridge from music they already appreciate to something that might lead them to singing are a cappella covers (Pentatonix, College Groups, even King’s Singers, Chanticleer, Voces8 etc…) and choral music they hear in movies. You will succeed best by creating a connection with what they know and like, to sung music they do not know yet. By interspersing some of these with classical music of all styles you might have some success in encouraging them to sing more. Also, don’t be afraid to have them sing fun things in unison. We often make the jump to choral music too quickly when having a group sing together in unison will lead them in the right direction.
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