Conference Morsel: National Standards
Date: April 24, 2014
(An excerpt from the interest session “National Standards in the Choral Rehearsal: Strategies for Implementation,” presented by Melissa Baughman during the 2014 ACDA Southwestern Division Conference)
Implementing the National Standards into the choral rehearsal continues to be a difficult task for many high school choir directors. In this session, I presented ideas for meeting each of the nine National Standards during a typical choral rehearsal. I compiled teaching strategies found in existing literature and shared ideas for teaching the National Standards through eight pieces of standard choral repertoire.
Session attendees were most intrigued with ideas for teaching composition and arranging in the choral rehearsal. I presented the idea of teaching students a hymn or folk tune by rote so students could later add harmony parts, a bass ostinato and a soprano descant in small groups. Depending on the level of the singers, groups could be divided as whole sections (i.e., all altos make up a harmony part, all basses create an ostinato) or in octets with each voice part represented. Teachers in attendance at this session thought this activity could also be applied to pop tunes to further entice the students.
The arrangement activity presented and discussed also inspired ideas for advocacy. Recordings of the students’ arrangements could be showcased at a concert or even performed live. This would allow parents, administrators and community members to see the students performing and creating music, thus increasing an awareness of what students are actually learning in choral rehearsals.
The teachers in this session were receptive to all the ideas presented and offered many innovative strategies for incorporating the National Standards into the choral rehearsal. It is my hope they will apply these new lesson ideas and continue to think creatively about rehearsal planning.