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HELP!! High School Choir 6 students (5 girls, 1 boy)

I teach music at a very small K-12 school. I teach K-6 general, JH Band & Choir, and HS Band & Choir. I definitely have my hands full. I just received my class roster for high school choir and I have 6 students and only one of them is male. How do I pick repertoire for them? PLEASE HELP ME! I don't know what I'm going to do. :( Any advice would be helpful. Thank you SO MUCH!!
Replies (12): Threaded | Chronological
on July 30, 2014 2:28pm
Don’t panic!  You can do this!  Recognize that the roster is often fiction at this point.  And remember:  You already have the skills to make this a great educational experience for everyone in your class (no matter the situation) or you wouldn't be a music teacher!
 
Right now, plan for a drive to push the choir to the rest of the school even before the first day.  Talk with (and bribe) the counselors.  Create some fun posters and get them up all over the campus.  Talk with your alums.  Talk with incoming kids (most just need an invitation) who are signing up just before the first day.  Start working out a partnership with all the sports people.
 
On Day One, teach a really fun unison piece to everyone (that they don’t already know).  Observe their qualities:  Chances are, their enthusiasm is going to be higher than most people; they signed up, after all.  If their physical singing skills are awful, you can start with unison pieces with some easy solo spots.  If they are better than awful, you’ll be able to use 2 or 3 part music after a few rehearsals.  If you end up stuck with just one guy who really can’t sing well, you’ll have to give him a lot of extra training and consider building some of the music around him as a character solo (the girls prob. won’t mind if it’s not all the time).
 
As the semester progresses, go light on classical (but never ignore it; madrigals & carols are always useful).  Make arrangements to get your group out and about quickly so you can build this particular class.  Consider joining the JH & HS choirs (big guys helping little) for SOME pieces.  You’ll need parents’ help since you can’t do it all yourself so gather some parental “advisors” fast!
 
Heck, I’ll bet you knew most of this already!  See?  Don’t panic; you can do this!
 
Hope that helps!
Michael A. Gray
 
Applauded by an audience of 3
on July 30, 2014 3:07pm
Staisha - If the young man's voice is changed, you might consider easy SAB.  If he's a strong voice, there are several two-part mixed selections available-SB.  I'm thinking of "Follow the River" by Joseph Martin.  The Choralnet repertoire site may have a listing of SB titles.  If he's a tenor, move 1 or two girls to tenor...then 2 on alto, 2 on soprano.  Before you panic, listen to them sing and put a strong voice on each part, then add a lesser one on each part.  I'm also teaching at a small school and have no idea what voicing I'm going to have in my choir.  Before I spend any money on music, I'm going to have to determine what voicings I have to work with, and then quickly order suitable music.  Encourage the choir to recruit one or two more guys (who can match pitch!).
 
Good luck.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on July 31, 2014 5:50am
One or two part is definitely the way to go.  Start with rounds, canons and partner songs where you aren't asking the boy to sing by himself.  You will always have 2-3 voices on a part.  I would use caution in SAB if asking girls to sing very low as opposed to having boys use falsetto more frequently.  If his voice is changing (cambiata), rewrite the parts to stay within about a five note range during this time.  If he is further developed, encourage falsetto singing (though not all the time).  This is particularly helpful if he is having trouble matching pitch.  He will be able to match the girls' voices much more easily in falsetto.  If his voice is fully changed and your group is capable of multi-part singing, choose TB or TTB repertoire and have the girls sing it up an octave, putting your boy on the correct part.  You will find that this vocal configuration supports odd voicing better than mixed.  Girls love the "challenge" of singing up an octave and boys don't have to sing a girl's part.  You may have to adapt some of the voicing if your boy is on one of the tenor lines and you have girls on a baritone line an octave higher.
 
Also--check out cambiata press.  It's arrangements of standards specifically designed for the changing male voice.
 
Good luck!!
 
Melissa
Applauded by an audience of 2
on July 31, 2014 6:03am
An easy part song is "Sarvam Brahman," a soothing Hindi chant. It starts in unison and splits into three parts, but you wouldn't have to do all 3 if the group isn't up for it. It would be easy to re-voice. You can hear a clip at http://www.kaiasing.com/kaiamusic.html. Let me know if you're interested and I'll get you set up with the chart.
 
Sing on!
Cairril
Applauded by an audience of 2
on July 31, 2014 8:32am
Thank you so much everyone! This is all so very helpful. Being the only music teacher K-12, I get so lonely and need advice a lot of times. I'm in my third year and sometimes I feel like it's getting tougher as far as participation numbers, voicings, and instrumentation. After this year, it should get easier! I'll definitely try these things! I need all of the guidance I can get! :) Thank you!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 31, 2014 9:51am
I just want to encourage you that this could work out really well, even with the small numbers! I teach at a small-ish school and my choir numbers are usually around 20, but last semester I just had 8 girls. Now, that's a bit easier since I didn't have to worry about what to do with a boy, but many of the principles were the same. While I am recruiting and doing my best to have better numbers next year, I can honestly say we had a great semester and put on one of our best spring concerts ever...with just those 8 girls. Most of them had a fair amount of choir experience and a lot of enthusiasm. If you can find the right music for their voices, a group that size can be great fun. And if they sound great, just imagine how they'll make the other kids want to come join them next year!
on August 1, 2014 5:06am
7 kids equals an a cappella group, which is a GREAT musical and social experience for any high school age kid, and helps you build their skills quickly with lots of individual attention.  You'll probably end up with a few more who sign up, but if you don't, here's a round for you for SAT.  
 
 
You can print the music right off the site if you decide it will work for your kids.  
 
Here's a youtube with the text scrolling by:  http://youtu.be/FKKNHAnT_i0
 
There is plenty of music for SAT and SAB out there if you look.  
 
Have LOTS of fun!!
-M. Furtak
on August 5, 2014 10:33am
Hi Maggie -
I am really interested in the same sort of rep for my tiny group of 4 high school girls, but I could not find the song to which you are referring when I clicked on the link above.  Any thoughts?
Thanks!
Kirsten
on August 6, 2014 6:34am
Oops!  Sorry Kirsten.  The link doesn't seem to work.  CPDL must be doing some revisions to the website or something.  I just rearranged it quickly for you for 3-part women.  If you message me your email address I'll send you the pdf.  The first section is a strict round, which is great for a classroom excercise, but then it goes into some polyphony which may be a bit too much of a challenge.  Use your best judgement.  I moved some chords around to get the lower part into a better range for altos for you in case you want to try it.
 
For the rest of the group.  Sorry for the technical difficulties!
 
If you go to choralwiki.org and put "Rabbits All Around" in the search box in the middle left of the page you can get to the correct page, and then click the pdf icon on the top left next to the CPDL# to download a score.  (There is also a pdf icon at the VERY top of the page in a sort of key to symbols, but that won't get you anywhere.)
 
Or you can get the score from youngcomposers.com here:  http://www.youngcomposers.com/music/listen/5585/rabbits-all-around/  To download the score, click on the title of the piece on the top right, just under the word "scores."  
 
(Or if the internet is completely uncooperative, send me your email and I'll email you a pdf file.  Let me know if you'd like SAT or three-part women.)  
 
(:
 
on August 1, 2014 10:22am
One semester I had 11 girls and one rather goofy guy.  The girls were great and we did 2 and 3 part songs.  Sometimes he doubled the meoldy. Then we found a bass fiddle and tought him how to play!  We did have a lot of fun and once in a while we had him learn the song (various parts) and then just had him sit out the performance.
on August 2, 2014 7:25am
Staisha, I think once you can identify the level of ability, it will significantlly determine how you will proceed throughout the year. I agree with the others on this discussion, to begin with unison/2-pt songs and simply get them singing well. Are students able to make schedule adjustments at the beginning of the year? If so, encourage your existing students each to recruit one friend. Check with the guidance counselors to see if new students have enrolled in the district and personally call to welcome them to your school and invite them to choir. I'm really interested to hear how things progress! Wishing you the best.
 
David Monseur
Hastings Middle School
Upper Arlington, OH
on August 6, 2014 7:34am
Hello there Staisha!
 
I wrote a song for a mixed group like this. Boys and girls mixed together, boys with low voices and boys with high voices, all abililties. The parts are all equal in difficulty and range and can be performed at the octave or in octaves. It's been used as a warm-up or as an item in a concert...whatever you want to use it for, it seem to be suitable, although it is certainly not one for church services or serious events!
 
Here's the link to it. There's a video recording of the whole song towards the bottom of the page. Hope it can be of some use to you.
Banana Fanfare II:
 
Best wishes
Cheryl
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