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Sight Reading Rules and Ideas

We are instituting a sight reading component in our high school choral festival. I'm hoping some of you will share how you facilitate this in your area.
1. What are the rules?
2. Is there a list of approved selections?
3. How do you score the choirs?
4. Director involvement?
You can either reply here or privately to me. Thanks.
on November 15, 2011 4:49am
Hi Mike -
When Minnesota had an optional sightreading component for the large group choir contest there were two or three selections printed by the state sponsoring organization - in our case, the Minnesota State High School League. As I recall, the choir and director were given a minute to look at and discuss each selection, but no singing was allowed during this time. The choir was then allowed to establish pitch by singing a scale and arpeggio, and it was time to go - the director was not allowed to sing along and there was, of course, no piano accompaniment. The exercises were in four parts (each voice part with its own line) and of increasing difficulty. There was no text - everything was sung on an oo or ah. It was pretty terrifying for some choirs! I believe the sightreading component faded away from contest about 30 years ago in Minnesota.
Best wishes,
on November 15, 2011 6:40am
For what it's worth, the sight-reading component in our local festival is optional.  Choirs can choose to get just a clinic, or to do the sight-reading component.  Choirs that do just the clinic can get a superior rating, but the highest rating of "Unanimous Superior" is only possible if a choir chooses the sight-reading component.
on November 15, 2011 11:07am
Great that you are adding that, Mike!
In Georgia, there has been a sight-reading component for at least 4 decades. The pieces were written by educator-composers, I believe.  (Let me know if you need someone to provide that service.)
Georgia has been complimented on the organization of its' musical events over the years.
I tried finding a description on the website - no luck. ;) Basically, as I recall:
The pieces were grouped according to the challenge-level chosen by the director for his/her group - If your group chose Class A (most difficult) for the performance element of the festival, then your group sight-read Class A.  (The Class A sight-singing compositions  were actually closer to B or C level, with the understanding that most folks can sing/perform much more difficult music than they can sight-read.  The same pattern followed; Class B performers compositions were actually easy-C in difficulty, etc.)
After participating in the performance element of the festival (now called "Large Group Performance Evaluation" - LGPE) , the group was ushered into the sight-singing room.  The director was given the page to peruse and strategize for about 2 or 3 minutes, while the judge (just one judge for sight-singing) reviewed general instruction/rules for the students.  Then the students were given permission to open the booklet, " page____, and look at the music for ___"(SAB, SATB, SSA).  As a team, the teacher and group had 5 minutes to prepare.  The teacher could talk to them about it, have them sing an appropriate scale, arpeggio, interval, etc.  but s/he could not sing, tap or clap any part of it - even one rhythmic pattern or interval.  S/he could allow the students to hum through it/practice on their own, but individually, not simultaneously.  The students could raise  their hand and ask questions.  And s/he could ask questions of them.  At the end of the 5 preparation minutes, the teacher was allowed to give only the first pitches (one for each voice part).  S/he conducted them (teacher must still be silent) for the "real" try.  Generally it was "once through only" for a rating.  If the judge suggested a 2nd try, it was to experience educationally how they might have done it.  Then the judge would point out errors and make suggestions both for the teachers and  the students.
Ga. Music Educators Assoc. ( )  has implemented several new procedures this year for All-State Chorus auditions.  I'm uncertain as to whether any changes are planned for LGPE (formerly "Festival").  If you go to the officers list, you may be able to get more information. 
I taught in the Ga. system and was a member of GMEA for 8 years, off and on.  I always felt that, for the most part, it was educational, fair and well-organized.
Hope this helps!
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