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How to get middle school boys interested in singing?

I teach general music to ONLY BOYS, and I wanted to introduce singing and choir to them. I have tried before, but they just don't take an interest to it. Is there any repertoire that you have found to be engaging with middle school boys? Any tips on convincing them that singing isn't just for the 'nerdy' kids?
on April 22, 2014 7:11pm
Started one year with the Marine Corps Hymn.  Moved on to the March of the Toreadors from Bizet’s Carmen.  Latter, they wanted to do more of that "opera stuff!"
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on April 22, 2014 10:59pm
My father, born 1902, learned the Toreador March in his country one-room primary school and remembered it (and sang it occasionally) all his life, along with "a rambling wreck from Georgia Tech" (no idea what the title of that song is) and "I was born ten thousand years ago".   I fully agree with Michael: get the text or the idea to be masculine, boys will love to sing.  
on April 23, 2014 3:30am
My high school had two boys in our 100-voice concert choir, and today every boy (and girl) in my K-8 program is expected to sing for a grade. I appreciate how important it is for faculty and administration to simply expect boys to sing. The climate must change in order to change the boys' outlook on singing. Show them some Chanticleer or King's Singers DVDs. Some "real men" sing soprano! If there is a professional chorus near you with a group that performs educational programs in schools, try them. Also see if a local college (perhaps even your alma mater) has a men's a cappella group that will sing for you. For a good mix of traditional "manly-man" and contemporary popular music, try the Yale Spizzwinks? (The ? is part of their name.)
 
Bill Hively
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on April 23, 2014 5:46am
Aria,
 
A rousing, short, fun canon will connect with your guys.  Text:    Oh Missus Shady, she was a lady. She had a daughter whom I adored.  I went to greet her, I mean her daughter, every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday half past four.  Send me your email address and I'll send it to you -- and anyone else who's interested.  
My email:  barhamte(a)gmail.com     
Terry
on April 23, 2014 5:51am
Try a series of lessons on Phonation. Teach them all about vocal folds, producing a tone, what happens with voice change. Show vids of the folds with singing/coughing etc. Ask them to sing into Audacity (or other recording software). Expand so they can see the waves. Sing with different pitches and sounds, as individuals and in groups.
 
Besides teaching them acoustics and vocal health, you're sneaking in singing. They lose a lot of their self consciousness when they are focused on the mechanics. Songs to choose: Sea Chanties and Work Songs (aka Songs for Real Men).
on April 23, 2014 5:52am
Aria
In my first teaching job (almost 40 years ago) I was at a high school and inherited a chorus of nine girls.   We did a medley of songs from JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (it was big then).   I invited the football team to dress up in their outfits and come out and sing "King Herod's Song."   Next semester I had a hundred singers in my chorus, half boys.
 
I have found the two biggest tricks with boys is
1) Have a leader among them who breaks the ice, giving them permission to let out their emotions (whcih is what singing is at its' core)
and
2) Use every trick in the book to make them sound great (regardless of repertoire).   If they sound boring, they will be bored.   If they sound charged, they will be charged.
Nick Page
www.nickmusic.com
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on April 23, 2014 6:35am
I think Michael and William and Nick are all on the right page.  If you want boys interested in singing, let them be "boys" when they do it.  Masculine repertoire.
Try a Doo-Wop number.  Imagine how much fun a bunch of middle school boys would have putting on their shades and singing some "Sha-Na-Na".
Add a Jason Mraz number to the concert. (They probably already know the lyrics, anyway.)
 
Or as William said, give them masculine examples, such as the King's Singers.
...or these guys - http://youtu.be/MPjnH-azhtk  OC Times
...or thiese guys - http://youtu.be/vqI0NB6QdQg   Ringmasters
...or even these guys - http://youtu.be/tqwkJGMOEbs?t=1m40s   Lunch Break
 
on April 23, 2014 6:37am
Aria,
 
My choral program has 300 students.  80 of them are boys.  I have had years where I had too many boys for proper vocal balance when singing SAB.  Great problem to have, for sure, and I am grateful.  It wasn't always like that, though.  I worked a variety of different angles to help get more boys, but for your general music classroom....
 
Here is something that might work to get them to sing because they love competition so much they forget they are singing.  They just want to beat YOU!
You'll need a solfege hand chart in your room.
 
Try this game:
Here is a video of how I introduce the game with real students.  In this video, I am working with a chorus (not general music), but I actually developed this game to use with general music students to get them to sing.  Later, it turned out to be a major component of how I teach sight singing to my chorus.
Here is the full lesson with total description:
 
Good luck!
 
Dale Duncan
My blog for middle school choral teacher:
 
 
 
 
 
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