Teachers Help Students Lift Their Voices to Sing in the World's Largest Concert

Antique carousels. Historic seaports. Dramatic desert backdrops. Music educators all over the United States filmed musical segments in unique settings that will be included in MENC’s annual World’s Largest Concert® (WLC®). The 2010 WLC sing-along event will be March 11 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. It is a highlight of Music In Our Schools Month®.

For many music educators, including Jennifer Bohach, the WLC is a longstanding tradition. Bohach, the music teacher at Powhattan Elementary School in Powhattan Point, Ohio, also created her own tradition. She explains:

“I have been teaching for 25 years and during that time, my music students have watched the World’s Largest Concert every year in March. When I transferred to my current school in 1991, I decided to make a shirt that would have each Music In Our Schools Month logo on it until I retire. Each year I add the new logo to the shirt and wear it the day of the WLC. Older students are excited to look back and reminisce on the past logos. Last year, as I explained the shirt to a group of first graders, I realized that some of their parents were in school when I began the shirt. They got a kick out of the fact that their parents participated in the WLC just like themselves.” (See a photo of the shirt at the end of this story.)

“Each year since 1986, my first year of teaching, we have watched the WLC in my classroom. For many years students have asked me if Powhatan Elementary could be included. I had not attempted this before, because I did not have the resources to properly video students. Last spring, I ran into a former student who was about to graduate from a local university and learned that he had his own video company … Early this fall I contacted him and asked if he would consider filming the students. He was very willing and excited to take on this project, especially since he was a graduate of our school district. We went over to the town’s marina on a beautiful fall day and filmed the students singing “Beautiful World”. He did an excellent job filming the students and then made a complimentary DVD for each student.”

Powhatan Elementary School is part of the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District, with approximately 300 students in grades PK-8. Bohach says that of those students, 138 are in grades 5-8, and 50% of those participate in band and/or choir. “I teach all aspects of music in the school—General Music K-8, Choir 6-8, and Band 5-8,” she says.

Two other music educators discuss their 2010 WLC taping experiences.

Suzanne Decker, the music specialist at Salt River Elementary School in Scottsdale, Arizona, teaches general music classes for all students grades K–6 as well as the preschool students. She also teaches a chorus for students in grades 4-6 before school.
Of the WLC, she said, “This will be our third year participating in the World’s Largest Concert. We combine our elementary school chorus students with the junior and senior high school chorus students at Salt River High School and do a performance for the community.”

Decker selected “The Green Anthem” to sing because “it is a song that speaks of our need to preserve and protect the earth and its natural resources. Native people are very conscious of that need and strive to honor Mother Earth by honoring the trust that we have been given.”

Chorus director Debra Kay Lindsay picked an urban setting to tape her singing segment for the World’s Largest Concert, and a unique one at that. Her choice was to have her students sing the national anthem, and “what better place to sing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ than the place where it was inspired?” Lindsay reasoned. So she made arrangements for the daylong field trip on a teacher workday. Her chorus of 70 students made the 56-mile trip from Springfield, Virginia, to Baltimore, Maryland’s Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write about “The dawn’s early light.”

The day turned into a history lesson as Lindsay and her students toured exhibits on the historic site and talked with park rangers about the historic fort and the song’s origins.
Lindsay is the author of Lessons in American Music, published by MENC and Rowman & Littlefield Education. She used sections of the book in teaching “The Star-Spangled Banner” and its history in class before the trip. Lindsay’s school, Crestwood Elementary School, is in Springfield, Virginia.

March is Music In Our Schools Month. The WLC DVD can be ordered on the MENC Web site where the concert order list available. The Web site also includes information on MENC’s “green” theme for this year’s concert.

Roz Fehr, March 4, 2010. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education


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