ChorTeach is ACDA’s quarterly online publication, designed for those who work with singers of all levels. A full annotated ChorTeach index is available online at acda.org/publications/chorteach. Over 160 articles are organized into seventeen categories. For submission information, to view the index, or to read the latest issue, visit acda.org/chorteach. Following is an excerpt from an article in the current Winter issue titled: Solfège for the Performance-Oriented Classroom by Heather Christiansen
Opinions about how to approach singing this fall have been flying fast and furious. When I heard that my school would not be allowing any concerts for the year, I was of course disheartened. But conversations about these developments with parents and other teachers have caused me to reawaken a philosophy I’ve held for many years: a choir class is not about the concert. It’s about the skills our students take with them to enable them to be life-long musicians. I want to play for the long win, not just the short-term pay-off. What better time to realign our priorities when our traditional rehearsal may not be an option.
When strangers find out that I am a choir teacher, I am delighted to hear them recount how much they loved their choir experience throughout high school. The delight is short-lived, however, when that exclamation is accompanied with the confession, “Don’t ask me to sing, though; I still can’t read music.” What a shame! Indeed, Steven Demorest found that “Choral music education is often criticized for its emphasis on performance and rote teaching at the expense of developing music reading skills.”1
Because of these experiences, my end goal is that students graduate with skills that enable them to continue making and participating in music well after their school experience. I am encouraged by Moerman, who says, “[It] gives me the satisfaction that children are learning something which will benefit them for the rest of their lives: the ability to pick up any piece of music and sing it.”2 Music classes, even those that are performance based, should benefit the students far longer than the time they are actually in our classes. Whatever our teaching philosophy, we might ask ourselves: “What should our students know after twelve years of music education? What skills have they developed that they will continue to use throughout their lives?” For me, solfège is one of those skills.
Read more in the Winter 2021 issue of ChorTeach, available at https://acda.org/publications/chorteach/