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Middle School Choral Prgram

I am the new vocal music director at a local high school.  When I was hired I was tasked with growing the program.  It did not take long to identify the greatest obstacle to my program faces.  In middle school, the choir program is relegated to a rotation with other encore areas.  The 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes have nine weeks of choir each year.  The two middle schools do have "select choir" that meet before or after school.  This makes requiting very difficult.  We want to approach the administration w=of the school with a proposal to change the program to be more like those very successful programs around us in other schools.  6th grade would meet every other day and an exploratory class.  And 7th and 8th grades would meet everyday for the whole year.  What I am looking for is research to support this kind of program, not only related to the middle schools, but how it is beneficial to the high school program, plus the over all effect on students in general.  Thanks for any help that can be given.
Mike D
Replies (4): Threaded | Chronological
on December 18, 2013 11:32am
I know this is well after you sent this message but maybe I can offer some help. Unfortunately, I don't have much "obejctively researched" based information but, I also started a program with basically nothing. I teach at a K-8 school in Phoenix, Arizona and my Junior High students receive choir class every day. Your argument could be something along the lines of this....Rehearsing every day allows the students to spend time really learning the craft of reading music and learning to vocalize. The students learn responsibility, tenacity, and perseverence to work on something, (the concert or other performance) perfect it and display it for others to see. Essentially, they learn to start a project and follow it all of the way through which is a valuable every day life lesson. Research has proven that students exposed to an arts education tend to become better critical thinkers, more able to come up with different ideas and perspectives, more intelligent in subjects such as math, if you teach pieces in different languages, the students become more literate, and also the students gather the "working together as a team" experience. Also, having choir every day or at least several times a week allows you more ample and effective time to get through the State and National standards for music.  
on December 19, 2013 6:23am
Dr. Patrick Freer at North Georgia State University may have some research to back this up. He has written several articles on retention and recruiting.  Check out the CJ, or try contacting him directly. 
Good luck! 
on December 19, 2013 9:04am
Dr. Freer, I believe, is at Georgia State, not North Georgia State. There is not a North Georgia State University.
Lee G. Barrow
University of North Georgia (formerly North Georgia College & State University)
on December 21, 2013 6:02am
Relationships are the key to implementing scheduling change within a particular building.  
I've taught in 4 schools.  I've implemented change in each building.  The way it has worked best for me is the following:
a)  Introduce yourself to the counselors on the first day and nurture your relationships with them.
b)  If there is an AP of Curriculum who is in charge of scheduling, nurture that relationship as well.
c)  Ask questions about how they arrived at the current scheduling system.  In other words, learn why, for them, the schedule they are using is working for them.  Sometimes, when you learn how they got where they are, it gives YOU a new idea that you can suggest that could also work for them AND the music program long term without all that much change.
It will take time.  Working positively with all of the people mentioned above has helped me tremendously.  The administrators and counselors WANT us to be successful.  We just have to work together to find the best way for everyone to facilitate that success.  It isn't all about us...and sometimes we forget that.  When they realize that we are willing to hear about why they currently have the system under which they are working, it helps them hear us too when we offer up our suggestions.
Have a vision of want you want.  Find the folks who can help you bring it to life.  Work with them.  Be patient....and once your relationships is flourishing with them, in my experience, sometimes they have better ideas that I do about how to help a new scheduling idea work, and I end up with something better than I ever thought possible!
Good luck!
Dale Duncan
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