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How To Keep Kids In Choral Program?

Hi all,
I am in my fifth year of teaching, third year in the school district as a middle school chorus teacher (6th grade chorus and a combined 7/8th grade chorus) and I am wondering if you have any tips on how to keep the retention from 6th grade into 7th grade. I have tried really hard to appeal to all the students' interests, singing popular songs at the end of classtime, creating a fun atmosphere through different icebreakers/conversations, and of course, emphasis on how to sing properly and learning how to read music. I feel like I could be doing something different, but I am unsure of what. Any advice?
on May 5, 2014 10:40am
Hello Sam, you are not alone. I run an afterschool program at our local middle school. I am going to tell the kids  next year that we MAY take a field trip or do something fun like a pizza or sno-cone party. Something inexpensive but worth what little money you DO spend on keeping kids in the program. If you dont have enough money in your budget, fundraise! I ran my program for a little while this year but didn't try any of my above suggestions and didn't have very good participation, so I am in the same boat as you! I have also heard to choose the most dedicated and hardworking student to be "director for a day" as an incentive.
on May 12, 2014 11:15pm
A fun trip to a performance in a theme park is a good recruiting/retention tool. Also, do you do an awards banquet at the end of the year? Be sure to recognize and reward the students for staying in your program for all three years.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on May 14, 2014 6:04am
Here are a few ideas on retention for your middle school choral program:
1)  Reward often with praise.  
            Catch a student doing something right and praise them publicly with total positive energy.  I also use Starburst candy on occasion.  If I see a child
                   using great singing posture, I praise him/her and throw a Starburst at them!  All of the children nearby take notice, and they respond in kind.
2)  Incentivize them.
              Give pizza parties to your highest achieving classes.  Make it known ahead of time so they will work to earn the privilege.
                  I like for my students to check their school email accounts regularly so I can communicate easily with all 300 students as individuals or in groups.
                  So, once per quarter, I check the email history and give a pizza party to the class with the highest rate of checking their emails.
              Plan a day trip to a theme park that has an adjudicated festival.  
3)  Inject your daily lessons with structure, fun and laughter daily.
              If their daily experience is not a good mix of hard work that is rewarding and fun, middle school children will leave in droves.  There is no more powerful tool                  for this age group than word of mouth (and social media!).
              From the very first day of school, structure, fun and laughter help students know that your room will be a great place to sing!
                       Here is an idea for a lesson that reflects the teaching approach I use with my own students.  It's for the first day of school:
Good luck!
Dale Duncan
My YouTube Channel with sight singing tidbits and classroom management ideas for middle school:
My Sight Singing program S-Cubed (specifically for middle school teachers and their students)
My blog:
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