Ideas for Choir, Classroom and Musicals
The following ideas may be used to facilitate music instruction.
Adjudication Tips and Pointers
Having had the opportunity to adjudicate choral performances ranging from elementary school through high school, we are aware of a number of issues, that if properly addressed would greatly contribute to the quality of your performance.
1. Many times we find that the demeanor of the singers is not reflective of the style and lyrics of the music that is being performed. For instance, when singing about the joy of music, or similar thematic topics, be sure your students smile, emote, and look like they believe the words they are singing. In conjunction with the performance of a number of pieces, a choir is like a group of actors, portraying a musical offering to the audience, and like actors, they should emote and look the part. When they are singing about happy topics such as “joy,” “love,” “music”, etc., and they have a flat affect, it detracts from their performance.
This holds true with rhythmic chorals, that require clapping, snapping, swaying etc. Have your students move with energy and feel the music in their bodies. Adjudicators will be looking for a dynamic interpretation of the piece!
2. When selecting repertoire, be sure to choose selections that are in accordance with the ability level of your group. Too often, in the hope of impressing the adjudicators, teachers select music that is well beyond the musical capability of their group. This unfortunate decision frequently leads to problems with intonation, harmony, rhythm and so on. An adjudicator would rather hear a partner song sung with perfect intonation, rhythm, and harmonies, than a piece in the key of “Z “sharp that modulates 4 times that is not reflective of the ability level of the performers. It is much better to be expressive than trying to be impressive!
The two pdfs listed below should prove to be helpful tools to assist you in preparing your choirs for adjudication. Use the points system that appears on these documents to fine tune your choral groups. Consider asking one or two other choral music colleagues to serve as practice adjudicators prior to the actual adjudication. Share the scores with your students and use this data to guide your efforts to achieve excellence.
A Year in Song
As a music teacher, I was always fully aware of the fact that as the music teacher I was given the task of ushering in every holiday and commemorative occasion with song and flourish. I so often wished I could find a resource called “A Year in Song” that would provide suggested songs, activities, musicals, etc., for every holiday that fell within the course of the year.
When I started composing music, in the back of my mind I hoped to develop a catalog of compositions to fill many of these needed musical voids by composing music for many holidays from Thanksgiving and Hanukkah to Martin Luther King Day to Flag Day.
That is what we have tried to do throughout the years and now in searching our website: www.jillandmichaelgallina.com you will be able to find choral music, musical activities and musical plays that will fill the bill and meet your needs and expectations throughout the year. We also love to hear suggestions of music and materials you need, so please don’t hesitate to contact us and it may even inspire us to write something new! Also, if you are unable to find one of our older compositions, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to help!
Dealing with Shipping Costs
After writing for many different publishers over the years, three years ago, we launched our own publishing company, Gallina Music LLC. One of the first issues we wanted to tackle was rising expense of shipping music to our many music friends both domestically and internationally. We are happy to announce that our entire, Gallina Music LLC catalog is now available to purchase digitally! For those of you who desire print copies, that is also an option, but those of you who want immediate downloads of print and mp3 we are delighted to say that they are all now available. You can see our current Gallina Music catalog at this link and be sure to click "View All" at the top of the page to see all:
Building and Maintaining Your Choral Program
Visibility, Visibility, Visibilty!
We all know the maxim “nothing succeeds like success” and this is definitely the case with building a choral program. As soon as you have an established group, have them perform in as many venues as possible, including, assemblies, other schools, community events, and wherever they can gain visibility in a positive way. Once you have this credibility, you are on your way to gaining parental, community, and most importantly administrative support.
This is a key to establishing a strong and successful choral program.
If time allows, establish a parent and grandparent, after of before school chorus. When the parents are involved, the students are more committed.
Begin with a non-auditioned chorus where all students are invited to join
Even when you are ready for select groups, don’t abandon your all-inclusive group!
Everyone should be allowed the opportunity to express joy through the art of singing.
Once your choir is established, have periodic celebrations such as before or after school parties [donuts, pizza, etc.] to garner a sense of camaraderie among choir members.
If funds are available, purchase choir tee shirts to be worn for concerts and performances.
Whether you are a new music teacher, or an established choral director, there are a few elements needed to creating and maintaining a successful program.
First and foremost, choosing the proper repertoire that is appropriate for your age group is of the utmost importance.
Criteria should be:
Select music that is appropriate both lyrically and melodically within reach of your current choir’s capabilities.
Choosing a variety of quality music that spans anywhere from the Baroque and Romantic period to present day music.
Using music that has definite elements of ear appeal such as melody, interesting lyrics, pulsating rhythms, etc.
Selecting diverse literature that celebrates world cultures. You can choose from a vast body of choral music and traditional folk songs from countries around the globe to choose from.
Incoporate rhythm and movement to choral pieces where indicated. This adds immense interest for both students and audiences alike.
When indicated, if possible, adding live instrumental accompaniments, if possible when indicated in the music, such as fiddle, flute, violin etc.
Don’t forget about partner songs. For too long partner songs have been solely associated with beginning choirs. Yes, they are a splendid way to introduce two-part singing to beginners, but they work extremely well with any group of two-part voices at any level. [see Why partner songs below]
Use Scrolling Videos to help teach choral music
If you have the capability of using the Internet and connecting to YouTube, choral scrolling videos make an excellent teaching tool for aiding students in learning their parts.
Most publishers have their chorals on YouTube in a scrolling format.
Students can watch and listen to the videos, and freeze them with the cursor at any point to practice a phrase that may be troublesome or challenging. Be sure to have them click the button to expand the screen to the largest size video
All of the GallinaMusic, LLC chorals and musicals have scrolling videos.
Here are links to a few:
1. Luli, Luli SAB/SATB
2. Hands ‘Cross the Ocean
3. Las Chiapanecas SAB
4. Las Chiapanecas 2 part
5. Two Opera Selections from Hansel and Gretel
6. De Colores
7. Luli, Luli 2 part
7. Celebrate the Differences 2 part
Use Part Dominant mp3’s [PDs] to assist students in learning their parts
PDs or Part Dominant mp3s are the recorded rehearsal tracks of each individual part for a choral piece. For instance, an SATB would have a separate rehearsal track for each of the voices [soprano, alto, tenor, and bass] so the singers can practice their specific melody or harmony parts. In most instances the others voices are muted on the track along with the Part Dominant voice. It provides a wonderful opportunity to assist choral directors in teaching and practicing the vocal parts with their students. All of our Complete Choral Kits include PD mp3s as part of the Kit.
Using Partner Songs
Below is a free PDF to help emphasize the importance and versatility of using Partner songs, formally known as quodlibets in your choral program.
You can find a wealth of partner songs on our website at these links:
Presenting Musical Productions The Why and How of it!
There is nothing quite as memorable as performing in a musical production when you are in school. Ask any adult who participated in a school production and they will likely tell you it was one of the most impactful and noteworthy events of their school years.
It teaches a myriad of skills, and builds confidence like no other experience can possibly achieve. It is truly a life lesson like no other, thus if at all possible, try to provide your students with a chance to enter this magical world of theater.
Keys to Selection of a Musical
The following is a criteria guide to assist you in selecting a musical that fits your specific needs.
Title of Musical under consideration
Appropriate for target grades and maturity level of students
Vocal requirements are within an acceptable range.
The musical selections meet quality expectations.
The number of speaking parts is appropriate for the size of your group.
The duration of the production is within the desired range.
The quality of the accompaniment track meets my expectations.
The coast of the total package is within the allotted budget.
The requirements for costumes, scenery, and props are acceptable.
The content is in keeping with the needs and interests of children.
The scene changes can be performed in my performance hall.
My performance area can accommodate the movements required of the performers.
The rehearsal time needed to prepare this production conforms with what is available.
The production has a logical format, story line, and sequence.
The theme has educational and social value and will be well received by the audience.
Rate each of the above elements on a scale of 1-4.
Musicals with the highest score will be the most desirable and successful.
The above was excerpted from the book “Puttin’ On the Kidz,” a how-to guidebook on producing successful musicals for young thespians.
For a wealth of other information, here is the link to preview and purchase “Puttin on The Kidz”
Whether you have access to a full stage, lighting, sound system etc., or a gymnasium, an all-purpose room, or limited space, through careful planning you can still hopefully provide your students the opportunity to experience the joy of acting in a theatrical production!
Referred to as either “Story Theater” or “Readers’ Theater”, this wonderful means of exposing students to theater provides every child with an opportunity to be in the spotlight. In the absence of an audience or the pressure associated with an actual performance, “Story Theater” enables any child who can read, with a chance to be the star of the show. If it is your goal to encourage students to develop a life-long love of musical theater, and hopefully eventually opera, it is essential that they be given an opportunity to be part of a musical production. Quite simply, “Story Theater” is an informal reading through of a musical [dialog plus singing along with a full performance recording. The children are assigned parts and with the aid of costume pieces [hats, wigs, sun glasses, etc.] they can assume various roles. The costume pieces are not essential, but they do add a great deal of fun. The “Story Theater” approach allows your students to enjoy the benefits of participating in a theatrical experience without the stress usually associated with a formal stage production.
Incorporating music into Cross Curricular Learning
Music provides an excellent opportunity for you to incorporate other areas of the curriculum into your music program. It helps to build a sense of camaraderie with other classroom teachers when you can put a beautiful exclamation point at the end of a unit they are teaching by performing a musical production on the same curricular topic.
We have musical plays that address topics such as:
Science and Ecology: “The Green Team Machine” “Oceans of Fun”
History: “The Castaways,” “Johnny Appleseed,” “United We Stand”
Reading and Literature: “Sing Me a Story,” “Shake it Up with Shakespeare”
Character Education: “Bebop with Aesop,” “Let’s Pass it On”
Our Educational Musicals can be found here:
Introduction to Broadway Musicals
Broadway Musicals Unit
There are so many wonderful Broadway musicals appropriate to share with your students as part of a unit on successful musicals throughout the years.
Here is a link to the site that provides an excellent and inclusive history of Broadway Musicals throughout the ages: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadway_theatre
The following is a list of the most prolific composers of Broadway Musicals with links to pages giving extensive information about each of them.
1. Rodgers and Hart https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodgers_and_Hart
2. Rogers and Hammerstein https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodgers_and_Hammerstein
3. Lerner and Lowe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lerner_and_Loewe
4. Stephen Sondheim https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Sondheim
5. Frank Loesser https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Loesser
6. Sheldon Harnick https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheldon_Harnick
7. Stephen Schwartz https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Schwartz_(composer)
The following videos are just a few excellent examples sent to us by teachers and music directors throughout the country. They feature traditional choral music and musical plays written for choir or theater education, performed successfully and creatively, many in both traditional and remote settings. When selecting music for your performance group, it can be extremely helpful to view video productions for staging, costuming and movement ideas.
1. Mambo Italiano - Rosmini College New Zealand, The Big Sing, Vanessa Kay, Director
2. Wackadoo Zoo - 1st grade Yongsan International School of Seoul
3. A Home Within Our Hearts - Hong Kong Christian Council Children’s Choir
4. Of Mice and Mozart
5. Artic Animal Antics - Tualatin Elementary School-3rd grade
6. Minoi, Minoi, Minoi
7. Heave Away Me Jollies - Harrison High School, AR Michael Crouch, Director
8. Oceans of Fun - Houston R-1 School District 1st graders
9... Cantate Domino - Christian Fine Arts Forsyth-CFAF
10. Get Hoppin’ - Sacred Heart Greenwich
11. De Colores - Wapahani HS/Selma Middle School, Selma, IN
12. Johnny Appleseed - Westminster Singers, third and fourth grades.
13. Sing a Song of Peace - Ranier Youth Choirs Colla Voce Leora Schwitters, director
14. Shake it Up with Shakespeare North Fond du Lac School District 5th graders Friendship Learning Center
15. My Purpose - Liberty High School Henderson, NV under the direction of Lamont Russell
16. Bada Bing It’s Spring
We love hearing from you!
Please don’t hesitate to contact us regarding suggestions for products, search for out of print music, or questions regarding anything related to Jill and Michael Gallina music.
If performing one of our musicals or chorals, we are delighted to send letters of best wishes to you, your performers, and your school!
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