What Would it Look Like?
This was the heading of the activity I distributed to my SATB Concert Choir for the last period of the day, on Friday, March 13th. Earlier that same day, we found out that due to the COVID-19 outbreak:
- The District Vocal Concert on Wednesday, 3/18 was postponed,
- The High School Pops Concert on Saturday, 3/21 was postponed,
- The Band and Choir WorldStrides Music Festival Trip to Washington D. C. 3/26-29 was postponed,
- And many public schools in the county were closing and moving to online learning.
With that in mind, I started the rehearsal with our routine Reorganize Attention Activity (we no longer call it warm-ups – that’s a topic for another time) and then went to the Quick Announcements segment of the rehearsal. We spoke honestly about the news of the day and the possible changes coming soon.
I also asked the choir for their help.
I proposed the question: “if our school transitions to online learning, what would a choir assignment look like?” “What assignments and activities would be most meaningful and helpful as we prepare for the Jazz Concert in late April and our Spring Concert in June?” I expressed my concern that I wanted to post assignments that the students would look forward to, learn from, and enjoy.
At this time, I am not concerned about the Standards (they will be addressed), nor the Program (it will survive). My main concern right now is for the student’s wellbeing as they navigate this challenging time.
Informal Music Learning Practices
Lucy Green (2008), In her book Music, Informal Learning and the School: a New Classroom Pedagogy, presents her research in informal music learning. This book offers valuable new perspectives on students’ musical capabilities and abilities that music teachers can incorporate into their instruction.
Green suggests that teachers should occasionally shift their role as instructors and become a guide and observer. She calls this “Standing Back” (Green, 2008, p. 31). I periodically use Standing Back with my Students through the Agile Development Instructional Framework (ADIF) and now during the current COVID-19 outbreak, I decided to Stand Back and ask my students:
“If our school transitions to online learning, what would it look like?”
So Friday afternoon during lunch, my student teacher from Syracuse University and I quickly created the following handout for the SATB Concert Choir.
My students did an outstanding job creating a variety of activities and projects that I will modify and incorporate into our virtual choir rehearsals/lessons. Granted, this is in no way is a replacement for the traditional choir rehearsal, but these are challenging times.
Planning for online learning brought me back to thinking about The Paradox of Learning and Becoming a Student of Reorganization and Adaptation. I am aware that the students and I will make mistakes in the coming weeks.
Here are a few more student responses:
“Record a video of you singing along to recording” AH
“Listen to O Love, and annotate dynamics, breath marks, and basic markings in music.” JM
“Annotate sight-reading exercises.” GH
“Pronunciation Competition. (who has the best ability to read/sing the lyrics the best)”. BC
“Watch videos on vocal techniques, but this would not be the best teaching method.” JC
“Create a lyric sheet and annotate phrasing, dynamics, and technical stuff.” BA
Below is a response from one on my altos using the song Erev Shel Shoshanim arr. Jack Klebanow (We were preparing this selection for the WorldStrides Music Festival in Washington D. C.)
Conclusion: What Will it Look Like?
We just received word today (3/16/20) that starting this afternoon at 4:00 PM, all schools in our county will close and transition to online instruction until Monday, April 13th. So, what will it look like?
Like nothing we have seen before.
My first assignment? Quoir Karaoke
My first mistake? We will see
Leading Voices Online Meeting
Our next online meeting will be held on Monday, March 23rd, at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, and will last for about a half an hour. If you are interested, you can email me at or use the link below to join the meeting.
Green, Lucy. Music, Informal Learning and the School: a New Classroom Pedagogy. London: Routledge, 2008.