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First Day of School

Hello everyone,
I am a high school choir teacher. I am fairly new at the job. The first week or so of school we are still getting our students put into our classes. I don't want to start with the rules an and regulations on the first day I want to sing. Do you have any suggestions of music to sing the first day? I want them to feel proud of what they learned and hum it the rest of the day. I also want to be able to sing it again and again and use it as a warm-up with different lessons attached. I lost most of my boys last year so this year I am probably going to have to do SAB. Thanks everyone!
on July 25, 2012 4:52am
Sounds like a great idea! Something like the traditional "Dona Nobis Pacem," which is a great melody that can be easily adapted into multi-part singing, might work nicely. Just don't tell the boss that you're not starting the year off by reading the rules!
on July 25, 2012 4:53am
Praetorius "Jubilate Deo" round. Leck "Oh Freedom" from South African Trilogy.
on July 25, 2012 5:51am
I use a canon to start every year.... one with a beautiful melody or thoughtful message (preferably both!). Each day we build on it, depending on the level of the choir -- the first day may just be a call/response learning of the tune while reading it off the board and we gradually build through a few days into a beautiful canon. This also allows me to explain class expectations little by little while having some good discussions about insights into the text of the canon. The beauty of beginning with a canon is that you do not have to assign voice parts yet and everyone is singing a melody. Here are a few I've used:
Mason: O Music
Hymn to the Russian Earth
Gregg Smith: Now I walk in beauty
Welcome, welcome every guest (shape note)
This pretty planet
Best wishes to you!
on July 25, 2012 7:08am
"Yonder Come Day" arr. Judith Cook Tucker is a GREAT choice for the first day and beyond.  It's a three-part partner song that incorporates movement, body percussion, and spoken lyrics - super fun!  It's a Georgia Sea Island song so there's lots of history and culture info and lessons that can be incorporated as well.  It's one of those ones that they hum all day and sing at home.
Best of luck with the first day of school and the rest of the year!
on July 25, 2012 8:32am
I love the idea of having them sing on the first day and saving the rules and regulations for a few days in... there's plenty of time for that, let them get their hands in the clay.
Mendelssohn's Verleih uns Frieden is worth looking at as everyone can learn the main tune first.  Even looking further into the piece, the 2nd verse has the women singing the tune with all men singing a countermelody together.  Only the 3rd verse splits into 4 parts and isn't overwhelmingly difficult.  What I like about this is that it is a substantial piece of music by a known composer that is accessible even for less experienced groups. 
Other ideas... something like Siyahamba or another African piece presents possibilities as all could learn the main tune first before branching out into harmony.
Much as it is overdone, Seasons of Love from Rent is SAB in the original Broadway voicing and features much unison... much as I personally don't find it to be the most musically satisfying piece, every group I've ever done it with has loved it and taken to it quickly... so for a first day of school, why not?
on July 25, 2012 8:35am
I've never done the rules on the first day. It's boring. :) here's what I have done before for my beginners.

1. We've spent the day learning warm ups (lots of silly ones) and really basic vocal technique. It gets them singing and set the stage for the routine that we'll be doing each day. By the end of class I try to teach them one of the Rollo Dillworth war ups (he's got a book) there are a couple that have great "gospely" accompaniments and they are fun to sing.
2. I've taught them a song from a musical in unison that they may know a little about. I've used Under the Sea, There ain't Nothing Like A Dame or I'll Make a Man Out of You (Men's Choir) and Broadway Baby or Big Spender (women's choir). I show them a video of the Broadway production then give then the sheet music. Yes, it's totally silly and pandering but it's also fun and not intimidating to the newcomers because we laugh and just have fun getting comfortable taking risks tkgether.
3. And entire day of team building games. The kids get comfortable, get to know me and their classmates and can more easily jump into singing the next day. Afternoon classes love this. After a day of sitting in desks reading class syllabi it's a huge relief to move around and interact with others.
4. My advanced classes get their Fall repertoire on the last day of school and have to prepare the music (summer homework) so we're rolling into full rehearsals on the first day.

I would hope you wouldn't have to be concerned about your principal if you choose not to do rules on the first day. I would hope that they would be excited about you immediately engaging your students and setting up a positive learning environment.

on July 25, 2012 9:09am
I love to start the year with "Yonder Come Day".  There's a three-part version where each part can be sung either repeated or it can be done in a canon.  Your baritones can sing the bottom line, which has sort of a bass feel too it, and it's catchy, fun, and easy to learn.  I've taught it from Kindergarten (melody only) all the way through high school age, and everyone loves it.
on July 25, 2012 9:26am
I taught high school choir for about 30 years (recently retired) and often used the following round on the first day (in 4/4, key of C maj, or whatever works for your choir):
Come in-to his pre-sence sing-ing Al - le-lu-ia, Al - le-lu-ia, Al - le-lu-ia.
Sol S S S S S S S, Do Ti La S, La. S F M, F M R D
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &, 1 2 & 3-4, 1 2 & 3-4, 1 2 & 3-4

I agree with you. Why spend most of the first day on all the rules and the reg's like their other teachers probably will? Why not make choir the most memorable class of the first day, the one they, hopefully, go home and tell their parents about? Make it the only or one of the few classes that they actually learn something in on the first day. Also, a few of my students with lax parents would stay home on the first day (because "We don't do anything."), yet they were the ones who needed to hear the rules, grading policy, etc. the most. So, why not wait until the second day or so to go in depth on the ruleIs the most. You could always hit the basics of the tardy policy and the number of hall/restroom passes allowed, or whatever you deem most essential to know from the first day.

on July 25, 2012 9:27am
The lyrics of the above round are a perfect vehicle for teaching pure, unified vowels from the first day of school!
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