Guest Conducting Middle School Children


Here is a response I gave to a Choral Music Educator who is leading a weekend Honor's Chorus type event as a guest conductor.  He has limited experience working with middle school children:

My biggest words of advice:

Talk less.  Do more.

Following those guidelines will help you tremendously.

For future reference...When I plan my work for festivals like the one you described, I also make sure I pick at least one piece of music that fun.  For example, I like incorporating a song that has some movement in it.  Picking at least one pice that is a bit crazy and non-traditional helps the rehearsal process with this age group in this setting.  For example, I chose "Coffee Break" from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.  They loved it.  I also like to make sure the rehearsal periods aren't overly long and are planned with sufficient breaks, and if I feel that I'm losing them, I am not afraid to break early.  Continuing a rehearsal that has lost energy sucks the life force out of this age group.  Feel the energy and don't be afraid to respond to it.

Good luck!

Dale Duncan
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