2018 Choral Assessment Henderson Middle School S-Cubed Sight Singing

It's March 15, 2018, and I've just completed my annual choral assessment with my 4 choirs at Henderson Middle.

This is my 26th year teaching, but it doesn't matter.  I still get nervous and excited, and I still learn from every choir I watch at the events.

This year, I didn't participate in my home district's assessment event.  The dates bumped up against spring break at the very end of March, and at my school, there are about 10 field trips that occur during the last 10 days before the break.  I'm not sure why our district plans the assessment so late in the calendar, but it is what it is.  I knew that if my students went that late, our results would not be good ones.  My personal belief is that assessment should occur at the end of 3rd nine weeks so you can turn the corner for the fourth nine weeks and teach new ideas.

So, last summer, as soon as I learned about the dates of my home district's LGPE, I started sending emails to learn how to participate in a different event in a new district that would create the opportunity for my students to do their best.

That is, after all, what is it ultimately about.

So, I took my 8th graders to a new event!   New building.  New choirs for them to hear.   And on and on.

It was the perfect situation in the end....even though I had to pay a lot of money for buses to get them there and back because our district isn't able to accommodate times for choirs after 2 PM.   But, then again, our home district surprised us with the same outcome last year.  They notified us one month before our event that some of us would have awkward timing that would impact bus timing that could cause our students to have to stay until 5:30 PM (even if they sang at 12:30 PM)  in order to get back to school.

Somehow, our district, who pays for our buses to go to LGPE assessment manages to accommodate athletics and cheerleaders after 2 PM, but not choirs, or science and math field trips...but that's another blog post.

I digress.

So, I got my students to the event early because I wanted them to get the opportunity to listen to other groups.

We were able to hear four groups...and the event was executed on time like clockwork.  Truly amazing.

Oh wow.

On the day before we went to the event, I was giving instructions to students about the field trip.  One of them asked a question...I don't remember what it was...but the contents were something like..."Normally, we are the group that people wait to hear.  Will we be that in this district?"

I answered honestly.

"First of all, I'm not sure where you got that impression.  Second of all,  just sing."

So, the private bus company we hired (same as last year to get us to our own home event) to help us arrive and depart with was amazing.  They arrived on time...early actually.  They called me to tell me they were there.  They even called the day before to make sure we were feeling comfortable.  I met them in the parking lot, and I told them that they would be waiting because of the National School Walkouts.  They totally accommodated us which made it so much easier for me, the parents and the students.

I am grateful to have the funding for my program to hire buses for my students.   It's taken years to build that, and I don't take it for granted.   It wouldn't be possible without years of relationship building with the parents, students and with the administration.

My students and I listened to four groups sing.  The singing my students and I heard during that time was truly inspirational.

I heard syllabic inflection.  ...Epically actually.

I heard stunning tone.

True choral singing.

My hands began to shake a little.  I saw my students looking back at me like...."Um...that was good."

I was thrilled to see it...and more importantly to see that they noticed!

We walked into the warm-up room, and I tore into the warm-up as focused as I'd been since 199....um...if you start with that, you should stop...but you get the point.

So, it was good to do something different!  I am so glad I ventured outside my comfort zone and tried something new.

They probably would have sung as well in their old location, but that zip-a-dee-doo-da of new energy for me was exactly the shot in the arm that I needed.

Here are some links to their performances:

Hitch a Ride (sorry I forgot to teach the Picardy 3rd, but it was my first time trying the piece!  Ball dropped...but all involved survived and thrived despite my oversight....my singers included...thankfully.)

I am but a Small Voice    So proud of this 8th-grade group for singing SSATB with confidence.  It's not easy, but they rose to the challenge.  I wouldn't try this with most of my groups!

Here they are in the sight singing room preparing the example.


And here is the final product after the five minutes of work we'd trained for.


Change is good and hard work pays off wherever you are.  

That is the lesson I learned from this assessment. 

Make sure you go to my YouTube Channel to see my other groups and lots of other information including classroom teaching tips, sight singing examples, teaching examples, and so much more.