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Starting a choir from scratch

Discussion in 'Music' started by silverfern, Apr 28, 2012.

  1. silverfern

    silverfern New commenter

    Agree with RMA about taking a register.
    Don't worry about giving them sheet music - the words (on a projector) will do! Start with some stuff in unison, then add some simple harmonies (Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri is a good one for this).
    Get them to suggest songs and check the lyrics before saying yes.
    Do you have a separate accompanist? (Perhaps your school management will pay for one if having a choir is so important for the school PR! Or ask an able student-pianist). If not, www.karaoke-version.co.uk has good-quality backing tracks for a few £ - allows you to conduct and actually listen to the singers.
    It's worth getting to know the students' ranges, esp. the boys, so that you can select repertoire and give them parts that they can sing.
    Schedule a performance and let them know the date. If they have something to work towards, they're more likely to step up to the mark.
    Good luck!
  2. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    It's always much easier if you do plenty of enjoyable singing in class, which it seems may be the case with your Y7s.
    It's vital that rehearsals are seen as productive, which means starting on time - even if some kids have not yet arrived. Taking a register is a good idea providing it doesn't stop productive work - do you have someone you could appoint as choir monitor who could be trusted register on your behalf.
    I never bother with seats unless the rehearsal is long. Standing produces a much better posture for singing.
    As silverfern indicates, an accompanist is very useful. Even if you can play the piano without looking at either the music or your finger an accompanist is better - if you need to use a backing track, be sure you can stop and start it wherever you wish, preferably using a remote so that you don't lose eye contact with the choir.
    Try to maintain a balance between working in detail and running through the whole song, and always make it clear what you are trying to achieve (better intonation, clearer diction, more effective contrasts, better sustaining of phrases etc).
    You will sustain interest if the kids feel they are making progress. What most often kills interest is what I have seen too often when mentoring PGCEs - unclear goals, lack of progress, lecturing late arrivals instead of making music, poor demonstrations, lack of preparedness and so on.
    Good luck!
  3. Yes, I've seen experienced teachers start rehearsals with a lecture. Remember that this is voluntary activity and they need a reason to come. They don't need one to stay away so don't give them one - if that makes sense. Do start on time however so that students know that they need to turn up on time. If you wait for 'enough to turn up then they have no reason to be on time.

    I agree that if there is lots of singing in the classroom it helps. Almost my entire year 7 curriculum is based on singing and i invite the entire year 7 to sing as a choir at the christmas carol service.
  4. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    I wish you taught at my son's school!

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