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Pacing and variety for beginning choir

I have a group of 30 high school boys and girls - pretty good singers but mostly beginners. Takes a while to learn parts. Not accustomed to rehearsal discipline. I need ideas to help teach parts quickly and effectively and keep a good pace so as not to frustrate nor bore them. Need to keep them engaged AND learning - quickly.
on August 18, 2014 8:25am
Hello,  Just a thought - this may be of interest though it's not a clissical piece.  I wrote this for schools here in the UK and got thousands singing just before the Olympic Games opened in London in 2012.  It's titled Refuse to Lose and the ethos of the project was/is to implant the qualities a person needs to achieve in what ever aspiration he or she might have i.e discipline, dedication and tenacity just like an athlete though they apply to any goal - not just sportl. Once the words are in the person's mind they will act as a road map to future success (with luck!)  Had a lot of fun with my local schools and the kids loved it.  Everything is availabe on site as free downloads inclucing the  4 part score and all the audio like backing tracks etc.  One can see the video via the YouTube link of the four singers who did the original recording.  Schools took the four parts and divided the children into groups.
Have fun and here's the link to the project's home page - simply click the menu bar to gain access to all you need.
on August 18, 2014 8:55am
Firstly, may I ask that you eliminate the word "bore".  To be bored is owned by the person in question.  YOU can't fix their boredom.  You want to keep the pace up for sure but allow them to create and own their interest and input.
They will support that which they help to create.  Good words at all times.  Ask the singers what they aspire to create.  What sounds turn them on?  Perhaps some homework with YouTube and finding choir sounds they admire (not like as we only "like" that which we spend money on.  We appreciate everything).  They can bring what the find to choir and you can come up with pieces they want to do.  You may not have that exact music but can find something with the same elements.  
If the singers want to learn then they will do so happily.  
For part practices, if you have a pianist in the group maybe he or she can break off with one or two parts to go over note work.  Then reassemble to put it together.  
Our young people have great skills and knowledge that lies dormant until we tap into it.  
Above all, have fun no matter what skills you are required to teach.  You can learn part singing with rounds and partner songs for warmups.  Enjoy the ride.  Those young people are lucky to have someone who cares so much.
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on August 19, 2014 6:51am
Teach in small portions.  Change music frequently. Use music in a variety of styles and having a variety of tempi.  If electronics are availble, consider use teaching tracks so that students can work in small groups and also learn their parts outside of rehearsal.  If appropriate, move the singers around the room to give their bodies a chance to change posture.
on August 23, 2014 7:50am
All great comments. Thanks for the reminders and great ideas!
on August 23, 2014 5:26pm
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on August 24, 2014 12:07pm
Another thing to remember with beginners: they need to learn what you probably already know: the middle of the rehearsal arc is grueling. You've passed the point where they've learned all the easy stuff, but you're not to the point where they can get to the artistry. It's probably going to be a lot of, "stop. We need to fix those notes in measure 36. Do it again." Reassure them as they start to get that glazed over look on their face that this is normal, it will pass, and that you appreciate their dedication and determination to do it right. This sort of thing goes a long way toward getting them through the tough stuff. Sometimes, I draw a picture of a mountain on the wall, with the summit being the point you want to get to by the concert. I make a little stick figure where I think they are in the process and move it forward a little bit every so often as they master something challenging, frustrating, or a bit tedious. Sometimes that works wonders. 
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