Choral Caffeine: Assessment (Ugh)
Date: January 21, 2014
From the auditions that start the academic year through the grading process at the end of each semester, assessing choral students is . . . is . . . um . . . well, it’s just not any fun at all. For some of us, assessment is one of the least pleasant parts of job.
Clearly, Trisha Scheides has given the assessment of choral singers a lot of thought. In her article “Assessment in the Choral Classroom: New Options Using Technology” (Indiana ICDA Notations, Vol. 34, No.2), she discusses a number of ways to make the process more objective.
For all vocal assessments this year, I am required to use a district-wide choral music rubric based on state standards which include learning targets within each standard. For each vocal assessment, I select the standards and learning targets to be assessed. In doing this, I focus on specific skills, e.g., sight reading, and can pinpoint areas of strength and weakness for the students. I give the singers the rubric and then place the music excerpt on which they will be evaluated on the back of the rubric. I make notes on the score which, in turn, helps students see exactly what was performed incorrectly. Administering the test is much easier than previously. Gone are the days of stopping class instruction for two days. Instead, I send the students, one at a time, to a practice room with a Roland Edirol wave/mp3 recorder, and they record themselves singing the excerpt. Our accompanist records the accompaniment on our new recorder, and I upload it to my computer in our rehearsal room.
(For additional articles on a dazzling array of choral topics, visit ChorTeach.)