Here are a few ideas on retention for your middle school choral program:
1) Reward often with praise.
Catch a student doing something right and praise them publicly with total positive energy. I also use Starburst candy on occasion. If I see a child using great singing posture, I praise him/her and throw a Starburst at them! All of the children nearby take notice, and they respond in kind.
2) Incentivize them.
Give pizza parties to your highest achieving classes. Make it known ahead of time so they will work to earn the privilege.
I like for my students to check their school email accounts regularly so I can communicate easily with all 300 students as individuals or in groups.
So, once per quarter, I check the email history and give a pizza party to the class with the highest rate of checking their emails.
Plan a day trip to a theme park that has an adjudicated festival.
3) Inject your daily lessons with structure, fun and laughter daily.
If their daily experience is not a good mix of hard work that is rewarding and fun, middle school children will leave in droves. There is no more powerful tool for this age group than word of mouth (and social media!).
From the very first day of school, structure, fun and laughter help students know that your room will be a great place to sing!
Here is an idea for a lesson that reflects the teaching approach I use with my own students. It's for the first day of school:
I have built my entire sight singing program on the three elements listed above. It is more than just a bunch of sight singing examples. When I created it, I wanted to help choral music educators not only survive the middle school classroom, but to THRIVE in it! Now, it is available in a full 27-week bundle for teachers. Just 10-15 minutes per day...and fun is a key component! Click the picture to learn more!