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Items by Dale Duncan

Results: 73
Title Author Date
Comment: Re: Advice/Tips for a Brand New Choral Teacher (Junior/Senior High)
Thank you Michael!  I struggled so much teaching sight singing to my middle school beginners in the early days.  Once I figured out something that worked, I decided to share it in hopes of helping some other frustrated teachers!  Books didn't work for me...Thank goodness for modern technology.  ...
Comment: Re: Advice/Tips for a Brand New Choral Teacher (Junior/Senior High)
Congrats on your new position!  The first year is exciting and daunting!   I write a blog specifically aimed at new and struggling choral music teachers.  Here is the link:  http://inthemiddlewithmrd1.blogspot.com/ I've written about some classroom management ideas on there among other things...
Comment: Re: The first few minutes of rehearsal/class: what are your secrets to success?
I use written "bell ringers" related to sight singing, and then we do sight singing. Here is a link with some more details:   http://inthemiddlewithmrd1.blogspot.com/2014/07/warm-up-activities-and-grading-with-s.html   Dale Duncan My YouTube Channel with classroom management tips and sight s...
Comment: Re: Arrangers for the Middle School Choir
Greg Gilpin for fun stuff that is easily singable.  My kids can't get enough of his music. Linda Spevacek if you want more challenging vocal lines, etc.  Great for festival. Roger Emerson for some great spirituals!   Dale Duncan Why Teach Middle School...blog post..Click below! http://inthe...
Comment: Re: Grading Choirs
Hello Chris,   Here are some ideas:   Number one:  Because you see your middle school students for such a limited amount of time, you must have your daily rituals well-established in order to make the most of every minute. I would make sure that the traffic patterns in my room lend themselv...
Comment: Re: Listening Journals - Middle School Choir Students
Hi Bradley!  Congrats on your new position.     This blog post that I've posted below is one that discusses how I use folders and bell ringer activities in my classroom.  It may give you some ideas on how to get your children to keep folders of their own to document their work.  Based on yo...
Comment: Re: After School Middle School Choir
Congratulations on your new job!   Here is the approach that I would take: 1)  I would set a personal goal of getting my adminstrators to allow me to have a choir during the school day within three years.  Having a goal like that helps me work a bit more diligently on after school activities li...
Comment: Re: Book of Rounds for middle school
Congratulations on this new adventure and welcome to the forum! I've taught middle school for 22 years, and here are my three favorite books for rounds and choral warm ups: This is the "round" book I like the most.  I like it because it uses music through which you can teach good choral technique...
Comment: Re: Books and materials
I have just finished creating and sharing every secret I've learned in teaching Sight Singing to Middle School Students in a program called S-Cubed:  Successful Sight Singing for Middle School Teachers and their Students.  My goal in the offering was to go from "0" to "100" in 8 months with my mid...
Comment: Re: Middle School Choir Curriculum
Congrats Bradley!  Great advice above!   Thank you, Tina, for the "shout out" on the S-Cubed Sight Singing course that I developed.  I am going to place the links to the materials at the bottom of this post for you to check out.  The best thing about this sight singing course is that, if you ...
Comment: Re: Large increase in enrollment numbers
 I teach between 290-320 daily each year, so I have a few ideas on how to help!  Here are a couple of blog posts I've created to help with large numbers.  Dealing with folders is always tricky: http://inthemiddlewithmrd1.blogspot.com/2014/01/folder-care-for-chorus-teachers.html Some ideas on c...
Comment: Re: Building a program from the ground up
Congratulations on your new job!     I created my sight singing program originally for use in the middle school general music classroom because I was searching for ways to have fun and get them to sing while they became literate.  Now, I am using it with my choirs because I don't teach general ...
Comment: Re: End-of-Year Choir Games
Try this fun solfege game!  They love beating the teacher, and it's a great focus game.  Here is a video description: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoO6R4OHSIY Here is the entire lesson: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/S-Cubed-Lesson-1-Forbidden-Pattern-Sight-Singing-Course-for-Age...
Comment: Re: middle school vocal music
Congratulations!  Middle school children are unique to teach!   1) Top three priorities for middle school choir:   a)  Fun.  If we are boring, they tune us out. b)  Gender separation.  If possible, separate by gender in 7th grade and/or 8th grade.  I prefer doing this in 7th grade becaus...
Comment: Re: Conference Morsel: True Inclusion
Thank you for sharing this.   Dale Duncan http://inthemiddlewithmrd1.blogspot.com/
Comment: Re: Rotator cuff (shoulder) problems and Rocktape
Use it!   I am a Choral Music Educator, former competitive gymnast, trainer of gymnasts and certified group fitness trainer as well.  I have taped up many of my athletes over the years to help them get through competitions, and this tape is of great help.     Having damaged my own shoulders...
Comment: Re: Selling original choral works online
Hello, Have you tried TeachersPayTeachers?  The seller in the link below offers her original music online through the site as do many other musicians. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/I-Am-Bullyproof-Music I am sure that if you contact her, she will share what she does regarding reproduc...
Comment: Re: How To Keep Kids In Choral Program?
Here are a few ideas on retention for your middle school choral program:   1)  Reward often with praise.               Catch a student doing something right and praise them publicly with total positive energy.  I also use Starburst candy on occasion.  If I see a child          ...
Comment: Re: Conference Morsel: Choral Sight-singing
So much of what James Bowyer says above is accurate!   I've been teaching middle school since 1989, and I looked for years to find something that would be appropriate for my beginners.  I failed to find anything.  It all progressed too quickly and left them frustrated.  I kept hoping for that...
Comment: Re: Mixed level all boys choir vs. same level mixed gender choir in middle school
Congratulations on getting permission to do this!  That indicates a wonderful level of administrative support!  I've separated by gender for several years, and once I did it, everything changed.  Boys now flock to chorus in ways I couldn't have imagined.  Of my 300 children in chorus, almost 1/3...
Comment: Re: Last minute issues
Laura, Two ideas that might help in your immediate situation: 1)  Record the choir and let them hear themselves.  Say nothing.  When you play it for them for the first time, simply ask them to silently listen.   I often ask them to silently raise a hand when they hear the sharping begin, but t...
Comment: Re: large choir management
Congrats on the growth!  That's awesome!  ....and daunting!  I teach 300 middle school children, and out of necessity, I've created lots of processes to help things run smoothly.  I suggest a written communication system that they are required to check twice weekly (website/email or something si...
Comment: Re: Conference Morsel: Sight Singing as Literacy
This is spot on!  The amount of brain power (visual/aural and kinesthetic) required for a beginner to successfully sight sing a two or three-part exercise with dotted-quarter/eighth rhythms and skips and steps combined is enormous.  We have to carefully and methodically teach our young singers w...
Comment: Re: Trouble with decrescendos
I had the same issues you described above with my middle school students.  I was able to solve the issue when I started using visual aids with the kids while teaching this important technique.   To address the intonation issues, I use a "Bullseye" with labels on it that include the words "shar...
Comment: Re: How to get middle school boys interested in singing?
Aria,   My choral program has 300 students.  80 of them are boys.  I have had years where I had too many boys for proper vocal balance when singing SAB.  Great problem to have, for sure, and I am grateful.  It wasn't always like that, though.  I worked a variety of different angles to help g...
Comment: Re: What are some of your favorite warm ups?
I teach middle school, so from one day to the next, I can have students who are absolutely dead to the world, or they can be so wired I have to calm them in the way Jan described above.     Warm up exercises need to be purposeful.   To increase energy, we do physical things (massage/back chop...
Comment: Re: Appropriate? Use of sign language to augment music
I use it every year during the holidays on a beautiful version of Silent Night.  My students love it, and so do the audiences who see it.  I had a professional interpreter teach us and check our work.  It's a great way to teach rhythm using a lyrical approach and is great for kinesthetic learners...
Comment: Re: Ways to increase the number of choir members we have
Liz and Elizabeth pretty much nailed it! Middle school years are unique.  They have to want to sing.   It is our job to inspire them to do so. Here are a couple of more ideas to guide you as you develop your teaching style: 1)  Use your personality to engage them.  2)  Laugh every single d...
Comment: Re: Conference Flyer for Junionr High / Middle School Conference
I wish I were going to be there!  So glad that we have a conference like this one. Planning to apply to present my Sight Singing materials aimed specifically at this group for the next conference!  Between now and then, I've placed everything online for teachers to us!   Have a great time at t...
Comment: Re: Losing Middle School Choir
It sounds like that, in this small setting, continuity in grades 6-12 is key.   If it were my program, I'd agree to that arrangement, and then, remember these important ideas:   Your classroom is your oasis.  You get to decide how difficult you make your job each and every day.  You get to ...
Comment: Re: Conference Morsel: Overtone Singing
Training my middle school singers to listen for and work to produce overtones as they sing changed the tone quality my singers produced in magnificent ways, but it also had an awesome and unexpected result.   Students who suffer from ADHD and other attention deficit issues suddenly pop to att...
Comment: Re: Behavior issues
Catherine!     So glad that the videos helped a bit.  You've inspired me to continue to work on new videos and share more ideas with teachers who need a little shot in the arm.  It is helpful for ME too!  ...especially at this time of year with the spring fever.... Wow.  We all get a littl...
Comment: Re: Behavior issues
Daniel,   Thank you very much for these nice comments.  I struggled like crazy in the early days and was so frustrated.  I just wanted someone to help!  ...I almost left teaching during those first three years.  Now, 25 years later, I am thrilled that there are technologies available that...
Comment: Re: Classroom management, first year middle school choir director
There are awesome suggestions here!   Here are a couple of more ideas:   Overall most important factor:  Mutual respect that starts with you.  You are the adult.  If they sense you don't respect them or that you simply expect respect because you are an adult, you will lose them.  We have t...
Comment: Re: Behavior issues
There are some great ideas above!  Find the video clips below.  They are about 2-3 minutes each.  These are a few of the videos I've made to help other teachers who struggle with classroom management in the choral classroom.   http://youtu.be/QfaHqdN5R4A http://youtu.be/jWZuNfzaXeU http://yo...
Comment: Re: Increasing student participation
Forgot one more awesome resource!   Try this and consider ordering a subscription! http://www.musick8.com/   Teresa Jennings is the leader of this company, and she makes original music that the kids in this age group absolutely LOVE.  There are many choreography suggestions included that bri...
Comment: Re: 1st year choir directing ~ Several questions!
Yea!  Try Thunder Lizard too!  Fog machines and flashlights add so much fun drama!  Music K-8 is a fabulous resource for this age group.  They understand what makes this age group tick.   Dale Duncan My Blog for Choral Music Teachers: http://inthemiddlewithmrd1.blogspot.com My Sight Singin...
Comment: Re: Increasing student participation
Hello Darwin,   Wow!  As a choral person, I can't imagine teaching band.  I don't feel equipped!  I can only imagine how difficult it must feel for you!     The key ingredient for this age group is to incorporate fun into the singing.   Here is a link to a few YouTube videos of a fun ga...
Comment: Re: First time guest conductor at a middle school festival
Congratulations!     My biggest words of advice:   Talk less.  Do more. Laugh. Praise.   Following those guidelines will help you tremendously.   For future reference...When I plan my work for festivals like the one you described, I also make sure I pick at least one piece of music t...
Comment: Re: 1st year choir directing ~ Several questions!
Congratulations Chase!     Here are a few approaches that I use that may give you some ideas.   For middle school children, especially those who are volunteering their time before or after school, we need to inject fun, and we need to share music with them about which we are passionate.  The...
Comment: Re: Sight Singing Assessment
Glad you liked it!     Yes!  I always tell the kids that ulimately, I want them NOT to need me!  The "Chaos" technique in S-Cubed is one of the many important skills we teach in S-Cubed.   Yesterday, I uploaded the final lesson in the Sight Singing lesson series!  I am thrilled to be finis...
Comment: Re: They just won't stay in tune...
Kimberly,   I have a few ideas to add to the awesome thoughts Robert shared above.     This is about listening.   1)  We need to teach our students to always be able to locate "DO".  An exercise to start them thinking in this direction: a)  Sing a pitch and call it DO. b)  Have them ...
Comment: Re: Middle school boys: I KNOW they have the range, but...
Daniel!  That is super news!  It will make such a big difference for your program.  Once you get it rolling, you can feature the boys in such awesome ways! The snow ball effect is awesome!  Best of luck!
Comment: Re: Middle school boys: I KNOW they have the range, but...
Hi Annalea,   They are singing today!  Super excited!   They will sing "The Chariot Spiritual" arr. Donald Moore.http://www.jwpepper.com/Chariot-Spiritual/3251204.item#.Ux7e6-ddVxs They will also sing "Aura Lee"https://www.jwpepper.com/Aura-Lee/10025149.item#.Ux7fLeddVxs   Hope that helps...
Comment: Re: Middle school boys: I KNOW they have the range, but...
I am in my 22nd year teaching middle school, and I had the same experience you described for years.  They never responded well when I would try to work with them in front of the girls during class, so I tried sectionals.   Sectionals helped a little, but finding a time was difficult.  I couldn't ...
Comment: Re: Flexible Middle School Choir Pieces
These two are great for teaching choral technique.  They are very simple, but you can teach great stuff to beginners!   The Little Burch Tree http://www.jwpepper.com/sheet-music/search.jsp?keywords=The+little+birch+tree Drunken Sailor http://www.jwpepper.com/sheet-music/search.jsp?keywords=Dr...
Comment: Re: Bad intonation
Larry,   I am not categorizing directors at all.  There are so many ways to get to the desired result, and mine is only one way!  I speak from my own 22 years of experience working with middle school children.  For me, they respond well to acknowledging the difference between "listening" and...
Comment: Re: Bad intonation
We have to teach our singers to hear.   ...Not simply to listen...but to HEAR.     When we teach our singers to hear, we are teaching them what to listen for, to interpret that data and to make the appropriate adjustments.   The don't WANT to sound bad.  :)   It doesn't come naturally. ...
Comment: Re: same-sex ensembles
Hello!  I teach 6/7/8 grade.  I don't have research, but I've been teaching this age groups for 22 years, and my research is in my classroom working with real beginners.   Here is some data from my experience:   About 10 years ago, my administrator's made it possible for me to separate my c...
Comment: Re: The Young Conductor V - rehearsing and the piano
Thank you so much for this article.  I worked very hard on my piano skills in high school and college, but I am simply not that good.  A rehearsal accompanist?  I've taught public school for 22 years in three states, and I've never had one.  I am shocked and just a little bit jealous when I hear...