One of the most important but sometimes overlooked jobs of a choral director is to help their students take care of their voices. With the stress of repertoire preparation and the other time-consuming aspects of our job, it can be something that we cognitively recognize but don’t necessarily have the time or energy to pursue. Our students, no matter the age, are going through critical times in their vocal development. We ask a lot of them vocally – range, projection, volume, facial expression, blend, tone, and many other skills – and we need to help them protect their voices and learn to care for them in a healthy way.
Now that the school year is well underway, instrument repairs are soon to be an unavoidable fact of life. The good news is many of the most common repairs can be done in the comfort of your own music room. To do so, however, you need the right tools. Here is a rundown of the most important tools you need for common musical repairs.
Trying to keep track of all of your classes and ensembles is hard enough. Then concert planning time comes, and there is a sea of event planning details to remember as well. To try to make things easier, we’ve compiled a checklist of concert planning tasks, along with a few stories from the trenches that showcase ideas that worked and moments when things went unexpectedly wrong. First, here is the checklist. Follow the arrows to see the planning steps from beginning to end:
Think about the way we learn music – the methods and best practices used in the vast majority of music classrooms. The teaching approaches are not all the same, but there are a lot more similarities than differences. Go back to the 1980s and earlier, though, and you will find systems that are far removed from what we have today. Changes happened over time in large thanks to the inception of the Essential Elements for Band method books.
J.W. Pepper talked to current and former teachers during one of our summer workshops to get some ideas for starting the school year right. Here are some of their thoughts on topics including class preparation and lesson planning in the weeks ahead:
Sight reading is a wonderful assessment of musical literacy, but it can take time for students to learn this skill. This is why I advocate for having an organized and methodical plan to give students sight reading opportunities throughout the year. Over the course of my 26 years of teaching music in Texas, I have found that focusing time on sight reading each week has really paid off. First, the amount of preparation time for our formal concert literature has been reduced. Secondly, our performance quality has improved, providing a much deeper musical experience for the audience.
Over a period of two years, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has strengthened its partnership with an exciting program that is building connections between music educators. American Young Voices hosts the largest school choral concerts in the world in five cities for music students in grades 2 through 8 and their teachers.
There’s an old joke that just about every musician has heard that starts, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The punch line, of course, is simply, “practice.” You are probably rolling your eyes at the moment, having known that joke for decades, but you also know that the truth is often said in jest – even if it’s not a particularly good jest.
There are many moving parts involved in managing music ensembles. Between keeping track of inventory, communicating with students and parents, coordinating volunteers, planning trips, and keeping track of finances, music teachers often need a variety of tools to keep their groups running smoothly.
Are you a band director yet you find yourself teaching chorus? In Part 1: Preparing Your Singers I discussed setting up and managing the choral room, breathing and warm-ups, and reading music. Now you’re ready for
Part 2: Choosing Music
When deciding which music to choose, consider the following questions: