ChorTeach is ACDA’s quarterly publication for choral conductors and teachers at all levels. It is published online, and each issue contains four practical articles. If you are not already a member of ACDA, you can join and receive access to ChorTeach online. Below is an excerpt from an article written by Andrew Bruhn in the Spring 2017 issue.
You have finished the last concert of the year and are left with one or more class periods before summer hits. If you happen to teach middle school like I do, the thought of all that “free time” is enough to cause panic attacks and sleepless nights! There is nothing more dreadful than a room full of middle schoolers with no structure!
Here are ideas that worked for me to keep the end of the year positive and successful both for my middle and high school students. I have found it helpful to have a change of pace after a concert and a busy year, so I try many different activities that keep things fun but also remain musically focused.
• Movie: Everyone loves a good movie, and luckily there are many that relate to music. They can be musicals (Sound of Music; Annie; Hello, Dolly; etc.), dramas (Mr. Holland’s Opus, Music of the Heart, etc.), or something like Fantasia! You will score extra points with the students if you provide snacks.
• Solos/Ensembles: Have a day during which students perform for the class. It’s a great way for them to perform music they want to perform and a chance to see and hear some students who might surprise you with their talent! I always celebrate their efforts because a student is incredibly vulnerable when making music in front of his or her peers.
• Awards: I and/or my students construct a ballot consisting of fun, serious, and ridiculous awards. We vote on them, and I make up awards and present them during class.
• Games: Divide the class into two teams and go head-to-head with a music theory challenge. Identify note names, rhythms, rests, solfege, terms, etc. I have a small dry erase board on which I write and then turn it around quickly so they can answer, or I ask a question verbally if no drawing is necessary. Someone tallies the scores, and the winning team gets candy!
Read more in the Spring 2017 issue at acda.org/chorteach.