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Multi-level sight singing?

Dear colleagues,
I'm wondering if anyone has come up with an efficient means of incorporating sight singing into a choral rehearsal at multiple levels of difficulty. In my advanced HS choir of 48, I have a wide range of skill levels. We do sight sing on a daily basis, and I generally shoot for the middle, finding that the least capable students do pick up from the singers around them. But I'd love to find a way to target the level of challenge. I have Jenson Sing at Sight texts that I use, and I have a smart board and a document projector.
Thanks in advance for your collective wisdom.
on August 31, 2013 9:54pm
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 students have sight read canons, and they really like sight reading literature as opposed to constantly using exercises. 
I've also seen multi-part canons where one of the phrases is significantly easier than the others- almost like a drone. Students could be assigned a line of the canon appropriate to their experience, sing the lines in sequence and then combine into singing all the parts at once (just repeating their assigned line). I have done this with students in terms of learning music for concerts, and it works really well. They end up learning their parts from each other. I hope this makes sense! 
on September 2, 2013 6:24am
You may need to write your own examples.  You could write a two or three-part texture, with one easy line and one difficult line (2-part), or an easy, intermediate and difficult line (3-part texture).  You could then assign each of the parts to singers who feel are at that level, regardless of section.  The trick is to have each of the parts in an intermediate range that could be handled by the high and low voices, and yet still harmonize.  I'm sure it can be done if you put your mind to it.
As unattractive as this option may seem, it may be the only one to solve your problem, as I've never seen sight singing examples that combine levels of difficulty.  
Good luck, Kayla.
on September 3, 2013 8:01am
I like the descant idea.  
You could also have your 2nd sopranos read the alto line, and your 1st altos read the soprano line.  A good warm-up with lots of siren-hOOoo sounds should make this vocally accessible. (The same could be done for tenors and basses.). Reading with less section support might be more challenging.
You might pull some advanced students from your groups into quartets/octets and give them something more challenging to try in a practice room/hall while you work with the medium-level folks.
You might write your local MENC chapter for last-year's examples.  Bach chorales are good.  Get a hymnal - many have pieces like Finlandia.  You can use  Ottman's "Music for Sight-Singing" to build individual skills.  Like the old saying, "The chain (choir of sight-singers) is only as strong as its weakest link (ones who are less-advanced)."   Though challenging to manage, I often taught sight-singing individually, and sometimes had the advancd ones help the intermediates. Perhaps contact a local private teacher to help ..?
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