January 27, 2015 at 11:33 pm #459985
Thomas YearsleyParticipantHere is a question that will no doubt ignite a lively debate:Can and should one music educator teach Choir AND Band? if so when and how?I have studied instrumental music for most of my life but fell in love with choral music soon after I finished college. Most of my training is in instrumental music but most of my professional expireince is with choral music. I love band and choir equally and I want to teach them both. What do the good people of the choral.net forums say about the matter? Can one music teacher effectivley teach Band AND Choir? I understand that most choir directors feel strongly about the subject.Thank you.Thomas YearsleyTeacher Credential CandidateDirector of MusicSt. Bartholomew’s Episcopal ChurchLivermore CAJanuary 28, 2015 at 5:18 am #459996
James MaroneyParticipantThomas,The people who will tell you that you can’t teach both are those who can’t do it themselves.January 28, 2015 at 5:25 am #459997
Mike EllingsenParticipantHello Thomas –Absolutely! The training and work in one area strengthens your work in the other. During my first five years of teaching, I was responsible for both the band and choir in a small school district. The biggest challenge is to make sure enough time exists in your schedule to do the job properly. Even at the mid-sized school where I spent most of my career (31 years) I was in charge of the pit orchestra for the musical, and I loved it! My advice – continue to perform in both areas so that your own musical soul gets fed. Music is music – and students always benefit from a competent and enthusiastic teacher.Best wishes,MikeJanuary 28, 2015 at 5:45 am #459999
I don’t have a desire to do both, but know people who do. The question is, can you personally achieve excellence in both areas and not burn out. Weston Noble did both at a high level for years.
It is possible, but it depends on the person.
Michael SandvikJanuary 28, 2015 at 7:16 am #460005
Henry AlvianiParticipantMany must and do. Pennsylvania, like many other states, issues a K-12 Music teaching certification, certifying (if not necessarily qualifying!) teachers to teach all kinds of music at all levels. Undergraduate students are required to take teaching methods classes in elementary, choral, and instrumental music. Some schools require all students, regardless of area of emphasis, to participate in ensembles outside their area of that area. Choral students must participate in marching band at least one semester, instrumentalists must participate in a choral ensemble at least one semester. There are many outstanding examples of well-known conductors who have made highly successful careers at doing excatly just that. Weston Noble is one who comes to mind, as well as Vijay Singh. One other thought to consider: while all students are usually required to pass a piano proficiency exam, band directors are far more likely to use their singing voices in rehearsal than a piano. So in my opinion, instrumentalists should also learn to become competent singers. Give yourself time, keep learning and growing.January 28, 2015 at 8:40 am #460010
Craig HawkinsParticipantMy school district’s Music Department chairperson teaches chorus and general music as about 80% and beginning band as the other 20%. The answer to your question is yes if you can find a district that has a need for both and the finanicial need to combine the two.CraigJanuary 28, 2015 at 9:02 am #460013
Maggie FurtakParticipantOf course! And it means you can do collaborative projects with your combined forces effectively.January 28, 2015 at 9:36 am #460015
Tom MerrillParticipantAgreed with the comments here…it can be done with the right person in the right situation. It is wonderful that you are well-versed in both (and love both) as that will serve you well, whether you are teaching both or in a department where you teach only one. It will give you a deeper appreciation for the work of your colleagues in the case of the latter.I would anticipate that you may find this situation a bit limiting in terms of professional and program growth. From my experience, most situations where you see this are small schools and districts where it’s only one music teacher due to budget, FTE, etc. I grew up and taught in Iowa, and this is fairly commonplace. You may only be able to get to a certain growth threshhold in this scenario. THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT SMALL SCHOOLS CAN’T HAVE GREAT PROGRAMS….THEY CAN!! What I’m saying is that, as the others reflected, as the program succeeds and grows the job may get to be too big for one person, which either leads to a plateau due to time constraints OR they hire a second person for the workload, which then potentially takes you out of one of the areas.Ideally–you need to find someone just like yourself….and then split the duties! Team teaching can be one of the best things that can happen to a music program. Good luck!!!January 31, 2015 at 2:49 pm #460213
Ronald IsaacsonParticipantDear Thomas:Short answer — Yes. Choir and Band are more similar than you might think… the voice, woodwinds and brass instruments are all “wind instruments…RonRon IsaacsonGermantown MDFebruary 1, 2015 at 3:18 pm #460241
Leon ThurmanParticipantThomas,A caution about teaching both band and choir:My perception is that the education of instrumental music teachers/conductors includes how the various band instruments are made, how they function to make pitches and sound qualities, and ways to help learners to play them skillfully so that optimum sound qualities are accurately heard by the players and other listeners at the same time.My perception of the education of choral music teachers/conductors, however, is different.While band instrument teachers/players learn consistent knowledge about how instruments are made, how they’re played, and how to help players learn to play their instrument(s) with increasing skill, choral music teachers/conductors tend to learn inconsistent and conflicting knowledge about how voices are made, how they’re “played” for singing, and how to help choral singers learn how to “play” their voices with increasing skill. Instruments can be taken apart, their moving parts can be seen and touched in conscious awareness when learning to play them. Voices, however, are very different. Only a very few moving parts of voices can be seen and touched (externally) and the many crucial moving parts cannot be seen or touched at all. Even more importantly, most of a voice’s moving parts cannot even be sensed in conscious awareness, and singers cannot hear their voices the way other people hear them (not so with instrumentalists).Many choral teachers/conductors have never taken a Vocal Pedagogy course so that their “voice learning” mostly consists of collecting the proverbial “tricks and gimmicks” of the voice professions, some of which “work” in a given situation, and some of which don’t. And even those who take vocal pedagogy courses, the courses tend to focus on how to sing Western civilization opera, “the only correct way to sing all musics.” Current vocal pedagogy courses most often teach vocal concepts, terminologies, and practices that were originated in the 13th through 19th centuries, but are intermixed with the instructors’ understandings of findings from the voice and voice medicine sciences. Even that mixture contains, in my opinion, a number of vocal mythconceptions, confusing terminologies, and conflicting practices. In my 10+ years of voice studies and 45+ years of choral singing and conducting experiences, I learned: 1) three conflicting ways to breathe for singing, 2) for phonation, to never sing breathy because that will hurt your voice, and 3) for resonance, to always make forward-in-the-head, bright sounds versus full-voiced singing. Vocal registers were always a complete mystery with so many different concepts, terminologies, and practices (chest voice, head voice, middle register, falsetto voice, upper and lower passaggio, heavy mechanism, light mechanism, and the list goes on).There is a current trend toward creating Choral Pedagogy courses that include some watered down vocal pedagogy concepts, terminologies, and practices. There is a book titled Choral Pedagogy that does that. Somehow, though, phonation (initiation of vocal fold vibration that creates sound waves) is listed as a subcategory of vocal resonance (what happens to sound waves as they pass mainly through the throat and mouth). How can the initial creation of sound waves affect those same sound waves when they are passing through the throat and mouth. A vocal mythconception?OK, Thomas, what does all that mean for your question?By all means, instrumentally trained music educators can help choral singers with musical concepts, terminologies, and practices. But what about instrumentally trained music educators helping choral singers with vocal concepts, terminologies, and practices? You are invited to check out the summer course that is presented by The VoiceCare Network at the above link. Lots of instrumentalists have attended and learned what they needed to know.I know of a Texas band director who developed quite a successful choral program. He said to the choirs, “I know nothing about voices, but I do know what good choral singing sounds like. So, if I hear sounds you make that are not good choral sounds, I’ll stop you, tell you, and ask you to do something else with your voices, and I’ll keep doing that until I hear good choral singing. Deal?” That’s what they did, and at some point they began to receive superior awards in the Texas choir competitions. Interesting, eh?Best wishes, Thomas!Leon
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