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Mixed level all boys choir vs. same level mixed gender choir in middle school

Hello Everyone!  I was hoping to get some expert opinions on dividing up my choir groups for the next school year.  My administration has finally given me permission to organize my grades 7 and 8 choirs by level and/or gender, instead of just grade level.  This is great news, and I know that it will help the choir program grow.  I am however, having a bit of a challenge in deciding how to organize my groups.  I have one very strong group of grade seven girls who have had a year and a half of choral experience.  I have a strong (yet very small) group of grade seven boys who have had a year and a half of choral experience.  I also have a beginner group of boys and girls who have a semester of choral experience.  I guess my question is what to do about the boys.  Should I put my intermediate boys and my beginner boys together to have an all boys MS chorus and really work with their vocal needs, or should I keep the classes mixed gender and same level?  I know that all research points to having separate gender classes at the middle school level, but what happens when you separate genders and mix levels?  Thank you for your help!
on May 5, 2014 6:18am
There's one good answer:  put your intermediate and beginning boys together.   The  experienced guys will be models for the younger ones!   
 
 
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on May 5, 2014 6:45am
Congratulations on getting permission to do this!  That indicates a wonderful level of administrative support!  I've separated by gender for several years, and once I did it, everything changed.  Boys now flock to chorus in ways I couldn't have imagined.  Of my 300 children in chorus, almost 1/3 are boys.
 
Here is what I do:
6th grade:  Mixed altogether
7th grade:  Split by gender with no regard for experience.
8th grade:  One period of 84 mixed choir advanced students (maximum allowed with one teacher in the room in Georgia).  Students are screened using a sight singing test.  If budgets allow for a second teacher in the room, I can go up to 100.   This varies year to year.
 
I feel strongly that 7th grade is the most important time to split.  We need to teach them about their new voices BEFORE the crazy two-octave drop occurs as it does in some boys.  I have split in 8th grade before, but I really think it is important to give them a mixed choir experience before high school.
 
Here are my boys:
Here are the 7th grade girls:
 
Good luck!
Dale Duncan
My YouTube Channel with sight singing tips and middle school classroom management ideas:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
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on May 6, 2014 4:47am
You will love having the genders split! It made a big difference in my middle school choirs, especially with attracting more boys. My classes are 6th grade together (usually in two classes because I teach in a regular classroom that only holds around 30), 7th/8th grade boys, 7th grade girls, 8th grade girls, and an 8th grade mixed "Honor Choir" that meets during study hall. I select the Honor Choir, which is another way to keep them in choir. I really don't have too much trouble with the levels being mixed, even with the 8th grade girls where I have girls who are joining choir for the 1st time mixed with girls who have been in choir all three years. It gives us a good reason to review, and allows the more experienced students to be mentors and peer helpers for the new students. I still do some mixed music in all classes so they have that experience, too. We just learn it in the separate classes and then put it together for the concerts. Hope it works out for you!
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