Are we Robert Shaw?

"I would never use an accompaniment track with my students".

 Oh, the purists. I've heard and read this for years.

 People who criticize the use of accompaniment tracks in choral concerts and talk about how it is terrible for kids because they don't learn to follow isn't LIVE...and on and on...

 Well, I absolutely disagree. Haven't we all had a horrible accompanist? One who rushed or dragged your beat? Nothing puts a drag on a great performance faster than that. We have to TEACH them to follow us. They are in middle school! They don't know who to follow unless we TEACH them HOW...whether it is an accompaniment track or live accompaniment, there is no getting around the importance of teaching our kids. In fact, I think that using a combination of tracks and real accompanists provides us with many teachable moments about the differences between the two and how important it is to follow us no matter what! The conductor is the glue.

 I have taught middle school for 22 years, and I have always used a mix of tracks and real accompaniment in concert settings. I have 300 young lovelies in my choir, most of whom have very limited background in singing choral music when they come to me, and they all follow me just fine. In fact, we just did our winter concert in a GYM of all risers for some of the students because of the large size of the chorus...and they did beautifully well!

 The only time I make sure never to use a track is in an adjudicated festival.

 When we say "I would never use a track anytime, anywhere", we are limiting ourselves a bit, I think.
 A track can create quite the dramatic effect for some songs, and our students love some drama...especially in middle school...and that drama can attract students to our programs. The predictability of the track actually increases the chances of a successful performance for our young students. They do better when they know what is coming.

With a purist attitude ("no tracks ever...they are horrible!"), we are also reducing the number of great teachers who might choose to be chorus teachers because their piano skills are limited. "I can't teach chorus because I can't play...". We have to remain open.

 We need to be careful about being purists about this and other issues related to choral music, and keep our minds open as technology continues to present us with so many new ways to give our students an awesome choral experience and make them excited about singing.

 We are not Robert Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. We are middle school teachers who are trying to attract new members of society to the art of choral singing. Throw them a bone with some well-made tracks to songs they enjoy singing and then have them sing the Brahm's Requiem once they have fallen in love with making music in the choral setting! That is our job.

 Here is my product designed to help our beginning choral students learn to follow us no matter what in all circumstances!

Click link for "Keep Your Eyes on Me"! A product designed for middle school teachers and early elementary teachers of choirs

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