new HS teacher: Help with altos (pitch, staying on part, etc)
Date: January 28, 2014
Hello you wonderful founts of knowledge.
I subscribed to ChoralNet when I got my High School choir class and read it everyday. I've learned so much. Briefly, I am a choral director by dint of doing.....17 years of church choir, student assistant conductor to our local community college for 4 years. I have an AA in music but not a BA and that won't happen until my kids have gone and finished college! So I don't have the classroom training, music education skills you all have.
This is a brand new program that I'm starting from scratch at a charter school with no other music classes (or visual arts either). Last semester was hard and stressful. It improved when I asked the principal to remove the problem kids. I also sent back all the SAB music I had purchased and had them send 2 part arrangements instead. By the holiday concert we were doing pretty well.
I listened to everyone individually at the beginning of each semester. The sopranos all have range, lovely voices and good pitch centers. They are young and are still learning but are doing well.
The boys are a mixed bag and I need plenty of help here.....but my main question has to do with the altos.
I have sung alto all my life (1 brief 2nd soprano stint). I encourage the girls and let them know that their part is very important. I share the "tricks" of singing alto that I have learned in 45 years of singing. The thing is that most of the girls that have pitch challenges and can't hold their part are altos. Most songs give the melody to the sopranos.....the girls with the most ability have the easiest part. My poor altos have the hardest part and the least amount of skills.
It's also hard because I can't grade them. Only pass, fail or distinguished. So the challenged girls refuse to do the outside work that would help them improve. They know that they will pass if they come to class with music, show up at the gigs and do the other homework (not the call ins.....they won't do them).
I have made practice parts available. I take them for sectionals. I don't have the tools or skills, I guess, and that makes me sad because I thought I did.
How do you all manage to help your singers improve without losing the ones with skills to total boredom? I've already lost my best young man because he was so bored he couldn't stand it.
Do I put the altos on the soprano line and the sopranos on alto so we can do an SAB piece or should I stay with 2 part?
Thank you for any pointers or advice you can send my way. I've already put in place many of your suggestions from other posts.
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