- More chances to sing than in general music class.
- More chances to rehearse and perfect a song.
- More chances to perform.
- More chances for pride, sense of belonging.
- I have parents and students sign a contract before joining.
- Take attendance or have attendance board they check when they arrive. I have also found it helpful to have some of the older, more responsible students take roll by having students check in with them every time.
- Make a rule about how many they can miss or they start to lose privileges.
- Educate parents about the importance of attendance. Phone or email parents if students miss more than a certain number of rehearsals.
- I have 2 chorus sessions per school year. This way students don’t have to commit to an entire school year. We have chorus during lunch recess, so the students often have peer pressure to go outside to play with friends.
- Session 1 = September to December
- Session 2 = January to May
Elements of a good rehearsal
- Start with a song! It limits talking and gets them engaged in singing right away.
- Warm ups
- Use Solfege and Curwen hand signs to help them learn difficult pitches.
- Sight singing (if time allows)
- Varied activities to keep interest:
- 10 minute rule: Only rehearse each piece for 10 minutes, usually. Don’t drill the song into the ground.
- For each piece, rehearse in this order: Whole, Part, Whole (Do the whole piece – or section – then pick one part to work on – then put whole piece or section back together.)
- Add body motions during rehearsals to help students shape their mouths, sing long phrases, etc. Click halfway through this video to see what I mean.
- Vary musical styles and tempi.
- Vary amount of time you spend on each piece.
- For long rehearsals, include break: silly song, 2-minute talk, student “recital”, announcements, birthdays