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Can I do this?

I'm not sure I've got this in the correct category, but here goes. 
 
I have been been a teacher for the last 8 years. I have always been a high school band and chorus teacher and my background is exclusively band. For the first 4 years of my career, I taught only one choir class per year. It was 2nd semester only (block scheduling) and usually only had between 10-15 students. Three years ago I moved to my current school. I teach marching band, symphonic band, jazz band, beginning choir and advanced choir. The beginning choir meets first semester only and the advanced choir meets second semester only. 
 
I am considering becoming a choir teacher exclusively. My question is this: would I be doing my future  students a disservice?
 
i can't play piano well enough to play at my own concerts, although I can easily do all our warm ups, and I can usually play two different voice parts at a time for rehearsal. 
 
My my voice is ok, but certainly not trained. 
 
My my main deficiencies are, I think, lack of knowledge of vowel shaping, foreign languages (although I feel comfortable in Latin), how to improve a students tone, and lack of knowledge of repertoire. 
 
I am willing to work on these deficiencies, but usually my busy band schedule prevents it. In fact my busy band schedule prevents many things, which is my main reason for wanting to drop band. Also, I have really grown to like teaching chorus.
 
I would appreciate honest answers here. Please don't be afraid to say so if you think I don't really have the training to be an effective full time high school chorus teacher. 
on August 1, 2014 4:56am
Casey --
 
As far as whether or not you CAN be effective as only a choir teacher, the answer is YES! I have been a music substitute in my hometown district for many years, teaching band, orchestra and choir/general music at all levels. Your doubts are fueled by lack of experience and exposure to those areas you deftly list. The only "cure" for this would be voice lessons with a qualified instructor. As far as the choir ensemble rehearsals and sound, your band ensemble background will be your guide. Blend, intonation, etc. are common denominators in all music groups. Foreign languages can easily be tackled through the help of your colleagues in the foreign language department at your middle school or high school. Record them saying your lyrics slowly and possibly explaining certain sound (such as French nasals or German umlauts) so you may explain them effectively to your students. As far as your piano skills go, practicing the voice parts and hiring a concert accompanist will solve all your problems. Good luck to you and your students.
 
Craig
Applauded by an audience of 3
on August 1, 2014 5:55am
Kudos to you for wanting to make the transition.  I met with a large group of teachers yesterday, many of whom are teaching vocal music, though trained instrumentally and vice versa.  You'll be most successful at what makes you happy.  Craig has some good suggestions.  Additionally, I would encourage you to join a quality choir (or at least a choir with a reuptable director).  You'll be amazed at how much you pick up with even just weekly rehearsals. 
 
By the way, I was a voice major and choir director and my piano skills are about your level--audacity was my best friend.  I would record parts or the accompaniment in tracks so I could do it one hand at a time.  Maybe not the best way to rehearse or perform, but it worked in a pinch.
 
Good luck!
Melissa
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 1, 2014 10:26am
Melissa, and Craig, thanks for your replies.  I could definitely invest in private voice lessons, as well as join a choir.  I have also used garage band the same way that Melissa used audicity - to record the piano part slowly, and then overdub the two hands to serve as a rehearsal track in class.  I'm sure I could hire out for an accompianst for the concerts (I currently have someone who does them for me now, but she will only perform at my current school - if I changed schools, I would have to find someone new).  
 
We only offer spanish at my school, so the languages would still be a problem, but if I get connected with the right voice teacher, perhaps that could help.  I am still concerned about knowing all I need to know about vowels, vowel modification, head voice vs chest voice, teaching vibrato (do I even need to?), etc.  I just want to be sure can get a firm grasp on these concepts pedagogically without necessarily being able to perform them myself.  I don't have any problem singing in front of my students (I do it every day), but I often wonder if what I'm doing modeling is actually correct.  I mostly just try to find recordings of our music and match the recording as best I can.
 
Any other input?  Is there is anything I won't be able to teach without talent or excessive training?
Applauded by an audience of 1
on August 1, 2014 6:59pm
Your main deficiency is the limits you are putting on yourself by allowing your insecurity to take over. We all have to start somewhere. 35 years ago, I walked into a high school classroom with a background in piano, and  elementary education student teaching experience. Fast forward 35 years. I am still there. I have four choirs, average 100 students a year (that number is where we settled after bouncing around on different block schedules for a few years). My kids come away with perfect or close to perfect scores at our County Teen Arts Festival ands some make Regional and All State choirs. Some are pursuing careers as music teachers. I did not study voice but have a decent voice. My point is that my students succeed even though I may not have had the perfect education.  My suggestion is for you to use the same musical intution that you would use with any ensemble. Read Read Read.  http://www.giamusic.com/music_education/index.cfm..... Listen Listen Listen....You Tube is great....and  research repertoire that will fit the voices of the students you are teaching while allowing them to grow musically. The more they learn about music through the music the better. Take the Voice lessons but maybe consider a Masters program for Choral Music Education and conducting if it will help you feel better about yourself. Many of them can be completed in four summers. Honestly it sounds to me like you have it together already. If you bring your passion to the job you will figure out what to do by what doesn't work. Move forward and don't look back.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on August 5, 2014 1:26pm
I feel you would need to broaden your experience by singing in a good choir yourself and learning from quality choral directors. Most regions have a good symphonic chorus, and singing an a good Anglo-Catholic Church choir that goes through lots of music in a week would be a good place to start. Otherwise, you're just winging it and making it up as you go along.
 
Quite frankly, I have seen so many fraudulant choral conductors, I have lost much respect for the profession and the institutions that enable them. As a small example: many choral conductors use their intuition to come up with the correct pronunciation of a word, without bothering to look it up in a pronduciation dictionary or even knowing such a thing exists. I went to school for this stuff, and I don't conduct choirs, yet people like you seem to get hired.
on August 6, 2014 9:01am
Casey,
     I echo the statements of everyone on the board so far. One additional suggestion I would make is this: find a way to learn IPA and get yourself a good book with the rules on the major languages used in traditional Eupropean choral music (German, Latin, French, English). The international Phonetic Alphabet allows you take any comibination of letters and replace it with a symbol that represents a sound. Many universities with a vocal music program offer classes in this skill. There are several IPA manuals out there that are designed to help singers.
     Have you considered pursuing a vocal/choral licesnure? I would guess there are univerisities that would offer it in the summer and (unless North Carolina's educational supports are even more dire than I've heard) increased college credits often gives you a pay bump.
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