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Items by Tanna Bills

Results: 39
Title Author Date
Comment: Re: Bluegrass for Choir
Alan,   How accessible/adaptable would these arrqngments be for a middle school level choir? I've been wanting to expose my students to some different American folk styles, and these pieces sound wonderful!    Thank you, Tanna  
Comment: Re: Texas directors: your favorite grade III treble UIL selections?
I have to second staying away from Hotaru Koi for UIL. Such a cool piece, but better for a school concert.    "The Poet Sings" by Stroope is a nice piece too. I'm pretty sure it's a three. Also "My True Love Hath My Heart" by Butler. 
Comment: Re: I'm a great teacher... but my piano skills STINK!
I second this heartily. I relied too much in my piano skills in my first four years (I'm a pianist that's learned how to sing), and truthfully, my students suffered! Since I've backed off the piano, my students are better music readers, they listen within their sections better, and the tuning is be...
Forum message: Bells
For our middle school Holiday concert, we will have the theme, "Bells are Ringing".  I have a short list of pieces that we have used in the past, but I'm looking for more ideas. It would be really great to have some songs in languages other than English. Because we are middle school, I'm looking ...
Comment: Re: combined concert?
Based on your description, I would be inclined to keep the concerts separate as well. Especially if there is duplication of personnel. I would also think combining concerts could get lengthier than an audience would appreciate. With the exception of our spring pops show, my middle school choir conce...
Comment: Re: What do I say to a student ...? (pop music)
To appease them, we will do "YouTube Karaoke" sporadically. I'll let them pick a pop song or two (appropriate, of course) and let them sing along. It's a rare activity- no more than two or three songs a week. Our spring show is a pop music show, oth than that, they know pop music is not in our reper...
Comment: Re: Help new choir! elementary school!
Yes! Partner songs are also wonderful. Canons are very adaptable too- you can add ostinati for boys with changing voices, add in descants, etc. developing a beautiful unison sound is a great focus as well, although that can be problematic for boys who are changing but are not to the point they can s...
Comment: Re: Managing a larger program
The choir has an assistant teacher for the two 6th grade ensembles! I'm so thankful! Thanks again to everyone for the great advice earlier in the thread. This year I have to do a better job of communicating with parents and keeping student leaders involved. That's the plan, at least.   Now... a...
Comment: Re: Advice for new directors
Angie, I agree with everything you said above wholeheartedly! Seven years down, and I still struggle with some of that stuff. At least it gets better from year to year. I think I FINALLY have a grading/behavior plan that works. Man has that been a trial!    I'll add my $.02...   - Don't be a...
Comment: Re: Multi-level sight singing?
Maybe you could find some simple two or three-part octavos that have a familiar melody paired with harmony/descants. The less experienced students could sight-sing the familiar part, and the advanced readers could sight read the other parts. I have no experience with doing this, but I will say my s...
Comment: Re: Managing a larger program
Thank you, Steve. There are several factors that have helped in the growth of the choir program. Some of which I had absolutely no control over! I'll do my best to share...   - Be involved with your feeder elementary music programs as much as possible- and get your high school director involved...
Comment: Re: Managing a larger program
Quick update. This year has been a whirlwind! While there were many commitments for assistance, not everyone was able to follow through... That's life! We live in a busy society.    I have found that a student organization was a good thought, but I have had difficulty in following through with k...
Comment: Re: Suggested rep for building middle school program
I have to second BriLee music. Lots of accessibility for young choirs.    When it comes to TB or TTB music, you really can't go wrong with Laura Farnell. It's hard to get boys into lyric music...except hers!   Take a look at some canon/round books as well. Those can be easily adapted for beg...
Comment: Re: Year End Appeal?
 I shouldn't have used the word "extra-curricular". Bad semantics on my part. Concerts do not require academic eligibility- unless you charge an admission fee. I really don't know why that is the rule, but I am going to play it safe and follow it!   I do think it's worth noting that the "no-...
Comment: Re: Year End Appeal?
I'll clarify...or at least I'll try!   Texas UIL Rules require that all students involved in extra-curricular activities charging an admission are passing classes with a 70 or above. This includes sporting events and fine arts events. A suggested donation is one way to circumvent that rule in...
Comment: Re: Year End Appeal?
I have never asked for donations directly, but I suppose it could work in some communities.  I think tying donations to an event helps parents feel like they are "receiving" something in return for their investment. It's also a good way to get community members involved, even if they don't have a...
Comment: Re: What is the most perfect piece of choral music ever composed? Opinions, please.
How interesting about Bist du Bei Mir ! I had known for years about the piano pieces that were attributed to him but not actually his, but hadn't thought about the vocal works. Embarrasingly enough, I didn't even know it was in the Anna Magdalena notebook. 
Comment: Re: Snow Themed Music for Jr. High
The Snow Begins to Fall is nice... Don't remember the composer, but I'm pretty sure it's published by BriLee   There are several 3part/SSA versions of Let it Snow.    Good luck!
Comment: Re: What is the most perfect piece of choral music ever composed? Opinions, please.
I'm not well versed in choral literature, sadly, but there are some pieces of choral music that have certainly brought me some joy in performing, listening and teaching. (I joined the choir game late. I'm a "converted" pianist and didn't start singing until my sophomore year of college-10 years ag...
Comment: Re: managing large junior high choirs
It's nice to know we're not alone! My classes are  55, 48, 36 (all 7th/8th grade boys after lunch- talk about high energy!), 38, 32 and 26. It can definitely be overwhelming at times. I try to breathe deep, pause before I speak and think about what I'm saying before I say it. And keep them busy w...
Comment: Re: Looking to commission a piece by a female composer
I am a huge fan of Texas-based composer, Laura Farnell. She's a fabulous person to work with too! Very kind. 
Comment: Re: Autumn Middle School Concert
I'm looking forward to reading replies as we will have the same theme for our concert! So far, we are considering the following pieces... Autumn Vesper by Auderey Snyder (has an optional third part) Something Wicked This Way Comes- from the Harry Potter movie. I haven't found an arrangement yet, it ...
Comment: Re: "Bell Ringer" Activities
That sounds like fun! I imagine the kids get excited for their turn to write the rhythm.
Comment: Re: "Bell Ringer" Activities
I love the concept of beginning the class with a rhythm on the board, and that was something I tried to have in place this last year. Unfortunately, in half of the six ensembles, the students did not take this assignment seriously and would just sit and visit with friends until I began the class. Ma...
Forum message: "Bell Ringer" Activities
I am a big fan of Harry Wong's methods for classroom teachers. His book, "The First Days of School", mentions using some sort of "bell ringer" activity very day as the class is beginning. I've tried a few things with limited success, and I'm wondering if anyone here has good ideas for keeping the si...
Comment: Re: Inspirational Teaching Tools
My students find it motivating to watch various choirs/singing groups on YouTube. We watch many different kinds of performing ensembles, mostly choral but with some innovative instrumental music. They especially like hearing choirs of their age group- this is also a great opportunity to teach critiq...
Comment: Re: Allowable conflicts with performances
That is unfortunate that so many kids were gone, but it's obvious that you had a cream of the crop there. =)   To Bruce... It's okay to set the bar high- and to disappoint kids in doing so. I explain to my students that life is full of making choices, and then prepare myself if they make a ...
Comment: Re: Something for graduating seniors?
I've seen directors present each senior with a rose and certificate. It's nice. 
Comment: Re: Managing a larger program
Well, the good news is that my principal thought a parent service group was a great idea, and I already have a mother who wants to be the president! Also, the high school director has committed to helping with all of our concerts, and the students are very interested in forming a choir council. A ...
Comment: Re: Smart Music
Absolutely. Middle school is hard enough!
Comment: Re: Smart Music
Thank you for the great feedback. I am most interested in the red note/green note function to assess individual sight reading development. Glad to know that it's still got some issues.  
Forum message: Smart Music
Anyone have any experience using Smart Music in the choral classroom? I see it every year at convention, and it seems pretty cool. I'd like to talk to someone with some actual experience with it.    Thanks! -Tanna
Comment: Re: Managing a larger program
Michael,   It's really cool that you're able to have your program staffed like that! That is eventually whay I am hoping will happen with my program, but as I mentioned in my original post, there is no funding for an assistant of any kind next year. I'm going to have to handle things on my ow...
Comment: Re: Managing a larger program
Thanks for the kind words Chris.    There is a choral boosters association at the high school we feed in to, but we don't really have that type of organization at the middle school. I think there's some kind of board policy that I can't have a booster's club that raises money at the middle s...
Comment: Re: Managing a larger program
I looked Mr. Seelig up, and I've seen his books at TMEA but I've never purchased one. Thanks for the recommendation.  I'm also going to look into SmartMusic for assessing students on the computer (has anyone on her used Smart Music like that?) Thanks!  
Comment: Re: Seeking two-part repertoire that is dead easy and sounds decent
Here's a couple more...My come one, come all middle school choir has sung most of these pieces with pretty decent success.    I have to second J'entend Le Moulin by Crocker- its a great piece and doesn't sound too elementary  Festival Alleuia by Pote Antiphonal Hosanna by Leavitt Whit...
Comment: Re: Pop Spring Concert for Middle School
I thnk your best bet is to search for specific song titles and then order a single copy of each. That way you can preview the arrangement before you buy a whole set. I can't remember the publisher off hand, but the pop music octavos with pink/magenta covers are usually suitable for my middle schoo...
Forum message: Managing a larger program
Hello,   I teach 6-8 choir in a middle school. I just found out that next year's projected enrollment for my school's choir program will exceed 220 students. Five years ago, the program had 70, and this year we have 175.Tthings have changed a lot! Admittedly, I am not the most organized perso...
Comment: Re: What to do with new, inexperienced student at the end of the year
Why not let him sing along in rehearsals and then tag along for the trip without performing? Maybe he could be a student assistant of sorts and help with logistics?   Good luck!