- This topic has 4 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 10 years, 7 months ago by nafmeadmin.
September 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm #11928
I just started my 2nd year of teaching but I am in a completely new school and with a completely new set of responsibilities. I am a pk-12 music teacher and teach 2 middle school choirs as well as a high school choir. The HS choir meets 2-3 times a week and we have only had 4 meetings together despite being in school for over 2 weeks. I did not make a good first impression. I realize now that my approach was too harsh and I didn’t allow for the students to get to know me or sink into a new choral dynamic before running them over with rules and expectations. There was major backlash and I ended up losing about 15 choir members. In addition, between discussing the handbook and trying to rectify my relationships with the students who stayed, we have done very little singing. I taught them a couple of rounds and we went over some breathing techniques the last time we met, but I know I need to get into some real singing. My problem is I don’t know where to start! We don’t have a concert until December and I don’t want to start that music quite yet (though I am not sure when on the timeline I should start that either…) We are a Christian school so I was thinking of going in with some 3 part praise and worship leadsheets on Tuesday to get us singing and doing sight reading. I was also thinking of pulling a couple more “fun” songs to get us in the groove of being a group. I never saw myself teaching choir and I feel totally inadequate. I so badly want to rectify this whole situation, but I look at the kids and I can see they don’t trust me (and I understand why). I tend to be a task oriented person in general and I don’t know how to relate to these kids in a professional way. Please, any suggestions to get things going would be helpful! Thanks!September 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm #12411
You have recognized what went wrong here. Good for you. Important in the choral classroom is to get them singing the first day. That is why they are in your class, to sing. You can start with a unison song that has a wonderful melody and a fancy accompaniment or unaccompanied. You don’t need to start with anything they will be performing in a concert but they must sing. From there your lesson plan should include posture, breathing, vocal production, rhythm, sight reading and more. But not all on the same day. Give them a few rules at the first and stick by them. Be fair, compliment, be full of energy and enthusiasm and be an example of what you expect from them. Sing and rehearse most of every class period. Do not spend alot of time talking. Record yourself and see if you are talking too much. Move from unison to 2-part then on to 3-part and 4-part. Keep your sense of humor.
LeAnna Willmore, NAfME Choral Education ChairSeptember 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm #12482
The idea of the praise and worship leadsheets sounds like a great step, but I would encourage you to do a wide variety of music. If you give them too many “fun” things early on, they will resist when you try to introduce quality literature. Plus, it is much easier to teach good vocal technique with good literature.October 20, 2012 at 4:11 am #14058
As a graduate student who will be teaching this upcoming year, I greatly appreciate your remark LeAnna. If every new music teacher, band and chorus, had this advice on how to start on the very first day, we would have so much more success from 1st year teachers. I’m passing this comment along to my music education friends!
Appalachian State University, MM Music Education, ’14
Campbell University, BA Music Education, ’12October 22, 2012 at 9:25 am #14072
I heartily second Leanna’s comments! I understand how you could easily find yourself in that situation, because it feels like there’s just SO much to do, and so much paperwork, rules, forms, etc to being a teacher that it’s sometimes hard to remember why you’re there and why they picked your class.
I have found that students will learn to trust you when they see that you care about them as people. Find out things they do outside of your classroom, and talk to them about it. Sports, books they like, some weird cartoon they love, it doesn’t really matter what it is, just so that there’s some starting point.
Also, it’s useful to remember that they already love music. Try to find places where you can connect something you do in class with some music they already love. That may be a great way to sort of mend the bridge you feel like you’ve halfway burned. It doesn’t have to be anything you’d ever put in a concert, just get them making some music and enjoying doing that with you. Then you’ll have your opportunity to reset.
Good luck! Keep us updated.
- The forum ‘Choral’ is closed to new topics and replies.