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Items by Mary Jane Phillips

Results: 182
Title Author Date
Comment: Re: New Choir Teaching seeking advice for programming music
High school or middle school?
Comment: Re: Best Resources for Teaching the Changing Voice
They must find their falsetto voices. Boys, even though they giggle at first, love to make siren sounds, pretend to throw their voices like a baseball, make a sound like they are making fun of their sister when she talks on teh phone, etc. Don't worry about matching pitch at first - just have them m...
Comment: Re: High School Choral Conductor Wins Music Education Grammy
Congratulations, Kent!  I was so excited a choir director won last night while watching the Grammys!
Comment: Re: Frozen/Teen Beach Movie
The huge Texas Music Educators' Association annual convention that 20,000+ peolple attend annually is February 12-15.  Because SO MUCH MUSIC is sold there annually (and the publishers and music retailers know that), I'd bet dollars to donuts it's in print by that time. I also want to do "Let It Go"...
Comment: Re: Popular singers with good technique?
Look up Pentatonix. They won The Sing Off tv show, grew up in choir in Texas, and are fantastic!!!  
Comment: Re: Middle School Unison
Go to and look up state festival lists. You can pretty easily figure out the way each state grades music (in Texas where I am Grade 1 is the easiest) and look for unison pieces on the easier parts of the list. Also, Brilee Music has a great selection of unison music with optional 2 part...
Comment: Re: Unison piece for 5 middle school girls
This Shall Be For Music - U - Mark Patterson is great.   Also, any art song book is full of songs that will work for a small unison choir. I almost always have sixth graders sing something in unison from a traditional "solo" book to help with unifying vowels and tone at the beginning of the year....
Comment: Re: Beginners and 3/4 time
Swaying, put5ting emphasis on beat one, and all teh aforementioned ideas are great.  This may seem obvious, but I've had many student teachers make the mistake in front of kids that it needs to be said. Be sure YOU are counting them off differently when in 3/4 time.  Try this:   For 4/4 I say 1...
Comment: Re: Needed: 7th grade not English, Unison selection
Dormi, Dormi - arr.Mary Goetze - beautiful!
Comment: Re: Bring Your Own Devices
I have them text home the day before something is happening - concerts, bringing uniforms to school, etc.
Comment: Re: School Concert or Sports Game?
Every good policy I've ever taught under followed this philosophy.  
Comment: Re: Keeping choral risers quiet?
I'd love to hear it as well - even new risers are squeaky. :-)  
Comment: Re: Bells
Carol of the Bells - 2 pt - arr. Artman
Comment: Re: Student who doesn't sing -- he fries instead ?
Everything you're doing needs to continue with a special emphasis on breathing. If he doesn't have sufficient air, he cannot get those vocal folds vibrating fast enough to phonate well and match pitch.  Also, have him put his hand on his chest and say his name. It will vibrate - we all speak in che...
Comment: Re: Boys singing in the Basement
Sirens, yawn sighs, "use your making fun of your sister" voice - every day they MUST attempt falsetto. Most boys who can't find falsetto are not breathing well - check breathing carefully. I strongly agree with Cherwyn - their voices are changing earlier and earlier these days. I now regularly have ...
Comment: Re: 7-8 Boys choir and 9th grade mixed ensemble (Rep. help!)
Here's a copy of a list of 7th-9th grade TB and TTb and TBB  music I made for a workshop a couple of years back. It didn't format perfectly, but it's readable. Things with *** have worked especially well over the years. Hope this helps! DIFFICULTY TITLE                      ...
Comment: Re: Why do middle schoolers choose Choir?
The best reply I've ever heard to this question comes from my dear friend and mentor Brad White - long time respected Texas choral director. He says high school kids choose SUBJECTS they are interested in and stay with them if they llike them. Middle school kids, on the other hand, choose TEACHERS...
Comment: Re: Need new concert attire - recommendations?
Praise Hymn Fashoins in Mesquite, Texas
Comment: Re: Beginning Middle School 3-part music
Are the classes mixed or divided into treble and tenor bass groups? If you have any say in the matter, divide them inton treble and tenor bass instead of mixed choirs.  You will have emuch more success and find many more resources for gender-based choirs at this level.  Look at the Brilee Muisc w...
Comment: Re: 5-7 grade choir rep. help, $0.00 budget, 45 students. HELP!!
There are some books by Alfred that offer free reproducible pages. Go to and search. You would still have to pay the cost of the books, but could make legal copies for the students.  Good luck!
Comment: Re: Suggestions for Elementary All County Chorus
Al shlosha d'varim - 2 pt -  by Allan Naplan
Comment: Re: SSA or SA rep to start off with
What age group?  
Comment: Re: What do you do with old concert dresses?
When I had old uniforms to sell, I contacted nearby school districts and offered them at a low price.
Comment: Re: Sight Singing Assessment
Lori,   Too many games to post here - send me your email address and I'll email them.   MJP
Comment: Re: Sight Singing Assessment
I try to do two or three recorded sight singing tests per semester - some years I'm more successful at that than others. I have a hand held Roland digital recorder and I teach the kids to use it before the test. I also have a "specially trained" choir officer to trouble shoot problems with the re...
Comment: Re: Advice for a Disney trip
I've never done a Disney trip with my middle school kids, but I did have a fantastic idea a couple of years ago for our shorter trips. I bought a Trac Fone at Walmart - these are the ones you don't have a contract for and you just purchase minutes when you need them. Most of the year, it sits in my ...
Comment: Re: Middle School Repertoire
I'll send it again today! MJP
Comment: Re: Looking for music related to mining
Sixteen Tons springs to mind - lots of arrangements of that available.  Also Drill Ye Tarriers that (I think)  is arranged by Emily Crocker.
Comment: Re: SAB Sight Reading Repertoire
Songs fro Sight Reading is a god place to start. Many state adopted textbooks also ahve some SAB sight reading music included in them. The state of Texas has a sight reading component to it's contest system (the contest is called UIL). New UIL pieces in all voicings are written for many years (25 a...
Comment: Re: Low notes in a composition
Most women don't have an E flat.  F and occasionally E are written in second alto parts, but I'd re-think that E flat unless you have a specific singer in mind. Just my opinion....
Comment: Re: Fundraiser Question: One for All or All for One
I have done several different things.  When only choir is fundraising, we keep all profits. When it's a department fundrasier where we are selling items like cookie dough or magazines, we keep track of the amount per student and each group keeps what their students earned. If it's a car wash or bak...
Comment: Re: Repertoire for Fall Concert - Community Chorus
The old "warhorse"  From Sea to Shining Sea comes to mind. I'm old and can't remember the arranger, but I've done it many times and it's always a winner. Just Google search it - or check your music library - it might already be there.
Comment: Re: children's music coordinator compensation
10-12 hours is an EXTREMELY low estimate of the amount of hours that job would take.  The planning and managing of the choirs alone minus the pre-school teaching would be 10-12 hours. With lesson planning for the pre-school teching component and teaching hours, I think it's more of an 18-20 hour pe...
Comment: Re: ACDA Staff and Facility Safe
What a blessing!  Glad to know all are safe!
Comment: Re: Where did you get your choir robes?
I've always had great quality choir dresses and church choir robes from Priase Hymn Fashions in Mesquite, TX. Very high quality and good prices and easy to work with.
Comment: Re: One Hit Wonders--"classical"
Carmina Burana - Orff
Comment: Re: teaching two part singing
Partner songs (quodlibets) also work very well in teaching beginning part singing. Avoid parallel thirds and sixths with beginners - they hear those as octaves and flip to melody. :-)
Comment: Re: Middle School Chorus: separating students by gender
I've taught middle school for 24 years and would not teach at a school where I could not teach gender specific choirs. Look at John Cooksey and Henry Leck's research on boys' changing voice and Lynne Gackle's research on girls' changing voice and you'll be convinced. Good luck!
Comment: Re: RIP, John Howell
When I read the sad news about John's passing, I felt a real sense of loss even though I had never met him in person.  His answers to so many different kinds of questions were amazing. Prayers and love to his family, friends and colleagues.    
Comment: Re: Does anyone have a suggestion for a computer database program to organize church choral music?
Try a free trial of Charms at I've had my library on it for three years and I love it!   Mary Jane
Comment: Re: Teaching Certification in Texas
It is VERY difficult right now to get hired in Texas with  alternate certification. My husband is trying to change careers into education and even though he has a master's and bachelor's degree in another discipline, his alternative certificate has gotten him NOWHERE.  He subs at several schools w...
Comment: Re: Repertoire Research Question
1)  Yes - for 24 years 2)  Depends on the year - when beginning a program at a new school , I've had as few as 40 students. I've had as many as 320 students with no assistant. On average, I have 200-225 students each year with no assistant. 3)  I love Brilee Music for MS repertoire - great sour...
Comment: Re: Techniques on how to detect wrong notes in a piece with multiple voice parts?
Christina,   I'd start with the with different parts each time to build your listening ability. If you feel the most difficult is where you want to start, go for it!  In mixed choirs, I often start with bass, then add tenor, then alto and last soprano. Since the melody is often int eh soprano p...
Comment: Re: Techniques on how to detect wrong notes in a piece with multiple voice parts?
Christina,   First, listen to each part separately and make sure the individual parts are clean. Multiple parts will never lock in until you clean up the unisons. Then, add one part at a time until all parts are singing.  This is a great technique when beginning to learn a piece and helps your s...
Comment: Re: Middle School Musical
Robert,   So funny - we are in production of "Little Mermaid" right now at may school - small world! Cinderella, Honk!, Annie and Suessical the Musicial are all avialable in Broadway Jr. formats. I've either done or heard them done successfully by middle schools.   Mary Jane
Comment: Re: Suggested rep for building middle school program
Look at the website - great catalog of middle school appropriate music in many differnt voicings.   Mary Jane
Comment: Re: new singer with breathy middle range
Her voice is changing. It is a completely natural process. If she is not pushing the voice or straining, she is simply in what I and many of my fellow long time middle school choir directors lovingly refer to as the "blow dryer" phase. Unchanged girls' voices ahve the clear "fluty" quality you des...
Comment: Re: New Choir Room
I would want enough space in the room to also be able to set up standing risers in order to practice for concerts. Beg for a water fountain in the room - so much easier thatn writing hall passes.  I would ask for a separate music library room, and uniform storage room and at least one practice ro...
Comment: Re: Middle School Boys Choir Unchainged Voices
Find video (Youtube is a great place to start) of great current acappella groups like Straight No Chaser, Pentatonix, etc. The two groups I mentioned first and foremost are fantasitic musicicians. They sing fun music and the men in both groups use every bit of their voices (high or otherwise) to c...
Comment: Re: Sight-Reading Games!
Send me your email address and I'd be happy to send it to you.