New job teaching MS choir!! Help
August 10, 2014 at 11:02 pm #40242
I have been teaching general music to grades PK-8 for 8 years and band to grades 4-8 for 7 years. I just got a new job (!!!!!!) teaching middle school choir and general music. I was a vocal major and have always wanted to teach choir, BUT I have basically never taught choir. I’m very nervous and excited!
I am looking for any tips or book recommendations to help me figure out my year-long strategy and individual class plans. Also any advice for the first days. This may sound dumb, but what are your ‘procedures’ for teaching a new song? listen first/sight sing (I don’t know their abilities yet)/break down into phrases????? I feel like a brand new teacher…
Also, any repertoire recommendations would be greatly appreciated as I only have 2 weeks before the first day of school to prepare everything!! AHHHH!
Thank you so much! I am so excited for this new adventure!August 14, 2014 at 1:49 pm #40438
Congratulations! And welcome to the world of Middle School Chorus. I have been teaching Middle School chorus for 7 years and I still enjoy it! Some things that I do to introduce a new music selection is to find a really great performance of the piece. When teaching the piece, I try to teach a easy section first. And then move to the more challenging sections. I really love to teach my students to use solfege and rhythm reading to help with their sight reading of a new piece. I have my students practice sight reading and rhythm reading daily for at lease 10 minutes or so. However you decide to go….try to make it fun for the students! I use the Sing At First Sight series and Rollo Dilworth has a good book for teaching vocal techniques called Choir Builders.
When looking for repertoire anything by Andrea Ramsey, Mary Lynn Lightfoot, Greg Gilphin, Sally Albrecht, Jay Althouse, Andy Beck just to name a few! Good luck in your new position!October 9, 2014 at 7:02 pm #42003
Congrats on the new position. Middle school choir is a fun class, but you will need some basic things in place for sure. Because you have been teaching K-8 you already understand classroom management. In choir it is no different, but you have to be sure you limit “down time.” Have everyone participating ALL THE TIME if you can, which means assigning things for each section like “tap the pulse as sopranos sing their line” or “hum your part as baritones sing on words,” or “everyone sing the alto line!” Also I highly recommend you teach a system of sight signing: movable do, fixed do, numbers, whatever. But pick one and do it every rehearsal. If possible, always tie sight signing to the actual music you are rehearsing. Also, in middle school, range and tessitura of parts is THE most important consideration for selecting music. An easy rule is to sing 3-part mixed music, and then adapt it as needed. Three-part mixed gives a limited-range part for the baritones and will allow you to have a part they can sing in most every part of their voice change. Finally, my personal rule is to let them sing ANYTHING that fits their voice. If you have a changed-voice baritone who sings on the bottom of the bass clef, let him sing the melody down an octave if that is the part he can manage. Keep them engaged, teach musicianship, select good repertoire with appropriate ranges, and above all have fun with them. Enjoy the process. Hope that helps! Be Well, Chris Peterson
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