TCDA Candid Camera Session. Rehearsal Flow in the Boys Choir

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1 TCDA Candid Camera Session Tammy Benton Rehearsal Flow in the Boys Choir An idle boy is a mischievous boy author unknown Job Qualifications: assertive teaching style, energetic personality, motivator, ability to inspire, withitness, fast pacer, quick thinker, encourager, multi-tasker, juggler, constant monitor, fair & consistent, highly organized. Ready-Get Set: Flow!!: Meet & greet at door with smiles as well as class reminders Establish rehearsal goals & objectives in your mind New music already in folder slots or designated spot Rehearsal steps on board along with general rehearsal reminders (posture-focus-attitude-vowels) Verbal directions as they get to seat Preventative measures to handle ANY potential class disruption: phone/door/drills/announcements Limit bathroom and water trips. Encourage bottled water at seats! Practice and discuss all rehearsal cues Unison pitch on neutral vowel AT the bell. Use bell pitch! Planned focus activity to start class. Ie; Call & Response, clap rhythms, worksheet or board exercise. 3-4 min max. Active modeling: What they see is what you get!! Create sense of urgency with clear concise rehearsal goals as you go Director excitement & energy = ensemble excitement & energy Keep a roving eye across the room. Be aware of every student s active or non-active participation Smooth transitions steady pacing continuous flow momentum in the music Learning with flow increases cognitive connection which in turn creates an easier transfer of new knowledge to what they are singing! Stagnation in learning, especially for boys, creates gaps and invites a cognitive disconnects and time for misbehavior! When there is misbehavior, nip it in the bud with a smile & without fanfare then move on! Assess, address & correct as you go! Try to use the 2-second fix when adaptable Instill vocal awareness in your boys as they sing. You are fixing without stopping!

2 Constant, positive verbal injections to choir as they sing. Encourage & Praise. Keep a continuous flow from one activity to the next (unless you perceive you re losing them) Plan a quick, fun re-focus activity if boys are checking out! Their fav vocalise? Constant self-monitor! Be aware of how long a section has been standing, sitting or singing! Creatively alternate sit with stand (ie; Tenors stand on chorus, Bass on verses) Let them Move!! Incorporate fun movement with both vocalises and repertoire! Let them move just for the heck of it!! Sing it in a circle! Sing it in small groups! Sing it with a friend! Variety & Spice=flow! Allow the boys to problem solve and involve them in helpful musical correction Frequently involve singers in teaching of musical concepts. Future Music Educators! Play piano introduction as they are getting music out of folder Combine the expected as well as unexpected rehearsal steps to maintain flow Always assign a job to the section you are not presently working with (marking music, handsigns, memorize) A fluid, quick paced rehearsal setting is an attractive challenge to most boys because it helps keep them engaged and gives a competitive sense of keeping up with the rest Determine a rehearsal cue to regain attention after a major disruption, ie; fire drill Give next instruction as they are holding final chord of a piece Try a 10-1 Countdown as they transition from SR to getting piece of music out of folder Make transitions a friendly competition. What section can get music out first and find m25? Ask Basses to stand when the tenors sing their last note and vice versa Ask a section to stand when it s time for their part to come in in the music Ask a section to stand whenever they have the melody in the music Allow your boys to mix up and sing a prepared song standing by another voice part I shut my eyes and give them 5-10 secs to mix up! You are constantly monitoring boys singing as well as constantly thinking ahead! Any lag time or stagnation invites talking and other behavioral issues that take away from rehearsal If all else fails..keep EM SINGING!!!!!

3 BUILDING TONE FROM THE BEGINNING! Make it a game! Incorporate movement with every sound they make! Utilizing the vocal throw exercises helps boys feel and discover the head tones. They begin to recognize the different voices they have to their sound, and enjoy moving from one to the other. I. Matching unison pitches together as a group within a range that most can reach helps to solidify ear training for scales. Work for tall open Loo vowel to produce tone needed for moving into sol-feg syllables. Sustaining the Loo while descending 1/2 steps is easier to manage while listening for accuracy of pitch and tuning. They feel where the voice breaks and learn to control air flow and placement through those spots. Sustaining on forward placed vowels encourages good breath support to achieve a lyrical connected phrase. Spinning the sound forward. II. Keep vowel pronunciation consistent when applying to sight reading or audiation drills. Keep jaw relaxed with lips forward. ( kiss the mirror) The use of video with ipad helps them to see faces during warmup to show who is doing this and what it looks like. This is awkward at first! Warm-up- Prioritize tuning whole and ½ steps within the entire major scale. Go slow, simplify! Begin with whole notes, half notes, quarter notes.( _denotes holding note any value.) 1. Unison- D T L S F M R D - D R M F S L T D 2 Part- Basses- D T L S F M R D D R M F S L T D Tenors- D T L S F M - M F S L T D R M 3 Part- Basses- D T L S F M R D - D R M F S L T D Tenor 2- D T L S F M - M F S L T D R M Tenor 1- D T L S - S L T D R M F S Audiation - hearing the pitch in your mind without reproducing it with your voice! Don t play every beginning note on piano! Encourage them to develop relative pitch. Sing and sign together interval or scale patterns. On cue, they stop singing. Keep thinking the pitch with the hand signs, ask them to sing key pitches after a few silent signs. Keep vowels consistent with the warm-up. A B C'S OF GETTING IT GOING! A. All see your respect for the different sounding voices within the group. Be excited for what everyone can bring to the whole sound. Everyone wants to feel accepted. They need to feel part of the community before they give anything back. B. Break into smaller groups with a goal or challenge, helps them contribute and build accountability with the group. Value = individuals work and blend with fewer voices. C. Choral tone examples-allow them to hear and see excellent recordings or video of good male singers, boys choirs, and themselves. They will be inspired to raise the bar. ( Kings College Boy Choir, the movie, Le Choriste) Some boys want to be the standout best singer, but most of them enjoy music and just want to

4 be doing something fun. They want to be part of a group of friends and walk with everyone else. If they learn how to sing and bring the best side of themselves while they learn, then everyone wins! Sometimes ignition takes place and they sing for a lifetime or you are creating a lasting memory of how they came to the music. Good luck with bringing that spark to your rehearsal! Jennifer Carter Director of Choirs Parkhill Jr High, Richardson ISD

5 Teaching A Song Presented by Gershom Garcia Arnold Middle School, Cypress- Fairbanks ISD Method: Rhythm Charts & Chord Charts Goal: To establish a solid foundation of the song by extracting rhythmic and harmonic structures thus simplifying the learning process so what is left are the fundamentals of the song on which to build tonal beauty, rhythmic precision, accurate intonation, musical phrasing, exciting dynamics, and pure unisons/octaves/part- singing! Results: 1). Mastery of song; 2). Strengthens sight- reading skills & procedures; 3). Expedites the learning of future repertoire; 4). Stronger musicians Part I: Rhythm Chart Design 1. Extract unison rhythmic motives 2. Extract simultaneous rhythmic motives according to parts: Tenor1 / Tenor 2 / Bass 3. Keep exercises brief: 4-8 measures 4. Brief rhythmic passages are do- able and promote an instant feeling of success! Remember the middle school attention span! 5. Use colored paper for visual interest and repertoire identification should you use other rhythm/chord charts on other songs. Rhythm Chart Expectations 1. Everyone pulses Keep a steady beat 2. Connect the sound with strong chanting 3. Achieve 100% counting accuracy Rhythm Chart Uses 1. Warm- up at start of class 2. Silently count or write counting under rhythm 3. Games: Trashketball, Less is More, Tenors vs. Basses Rewards for Accurate Counting 1. Verbal praise 2. Skittles 3. Snaps & Claps 4. Stickers 5. Section leaves first at bell 6. Section Bragging Rights!!! Part II: Chord Chart Design 1. Assign Parts: Tenor 1, Tenor 2, Bass

6 2. Extract vocal parts chord by chord 3. Start from beginning to end 4. Do not repeat chord/harmonic motives 5. Use quarter notes for notation (psychologically advantageous doesn t appear slow to snappy middle school thinkers!) Chord Chart Expectations 1. Pulse on solfege using the ladder 2. Connect the sound 3. Keep a steady beat 4. Keep chanting/singing supported Chord Chart Listening Skills 1. Note/Pitch accuracy 2. Lock- in chords and unisons 3. Develop tonal core 4. Secure intonation in and between sections 5. Secure balance in and between sections Part III: Steps to Teaching a Song 1. Teach & Master rhythm chart in class or in sectionals 2. Teach & Master chord chart in sectionals (one to two weeks). Chant first, then sing 3. Once chord chart is mastered in sectionals, then, put all voice parts together and work to master the chord chart as an ensemble (two weeks). Chant first, then sing. Chunking the chord chart (like the rhythm chart) is good so the choir is experiencing 4-8 measures at a time. 4. Once chord chart is completely mastered, then, move to the original music singing vocal parts on solfege at slower tempo from beginning to end. Secure breath marks and phrasing. Again, work the song in chunks. You know you are ready to move from the chord chart to music when the choir can sing the full chord chart successfully from beginning to end. 5. Sing music on solfege performance tempo 6. Add dynamics still singing on solfege 7. Add text (two weeks before concert). Model diction first students repeat 8. Learn & Master song in divided sections from beginning to end 9. Relate chord chart section to song section (i.e. meas. 1-8) 10. Memorize text in chunks from beginning to end of song. Examples of Rhythm and Chord Charts along with video clips can be found at the link below: 723s/present?ueb=true#slide=id.p Gershom Garcia Director of Choirs & District Coordinator of Music Big Spring High School, Big Spring ISD

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