Monday, October 5, 2015

Why I Participate in Spirit Week - Musical Interpretation

At the middle school where I teach, the week of September 28-October 2 was spirit week.

Some teachers hate it.  They feel it can be disruptive to the learning environment.

I feel just the opposite.  

I think it enhances the learning environment.

...and this is coming from a choir teacher whose in the final stages of preparing his 333 choral students for their fall concert is October 7th.  In the picture below, we are working on our flashlight choreography for Dweller of the Cave by Teresa Jennings.



I took that picture while wearing these.









They walked into the room on a very gloomy Monday, and that is how I looked on "Shades" day.  

They can't help but smile...

It literally brings their spirits to life...their little hearts awaken.

And on "Neon Day", I certainly didn't mind looking foolish.




I shouldn't be set loose inside "Party City" on the Sunday before Spirit Week.  :-)

It seemed appropriate to use Spirit week as a time to work on Interpretation in the songs they are singing for their concerts.

On Monday, we talked about the deeper meaning of the songs.  I let them tell me what mood they thought they should convey, and I let it get as silly or as deep as it needed to get...guiding them when necessary.  I told them I wanted them to sing from the heart and to try to let go on the technical imperfections.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we worked on the technical aspects of Interpretation.  ...Perfecting the art of performing a crescendo without accidentally going sharp or causing the tone quality to suffer, for example.  Those are not easy things for middle school beginners.   We learned about how important it was to be technically strong in order to deliver a truly artistic performance that is sung from the heart.

...and on "Pink Day" while teaching the lesson, I was wearing this.



I asked them if it was difficult to take me seriously while I was teaching.  They laughed and nodded yes.

Laughter is such an awesome thing to hear in a middle school classroom.   Sharing laughter with them helps us bond.  It helps them want to work with you, and it makes your job fun!

...And let's face it...if they want to make our lives miserable, they can!   I think we've all been there.  

Participating in spirit week keeps my own spirit awake. 

It's so easy to get caught up in the teaching only the technical aspects of music.   As middle school choral music educators, we have to stay connected to the incredible power of a truly artistically moving performance given by our students, and we have to work to figure out every way we can do get it out of them.

...Because it's magical.



Check out my blog!
Creator of S-Cubed Middle School Sight Singing Program for Beginners.
My YouTube Channel with teaching tips and teaching examples.

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