With a few days left in the school year and my eyes set on summer, this seems like the perfect time to reflect on something I’m proud of. It’s been a tough year, but there was one bright spot all year long and it’s the accomplishment that I am most proud of: my elementary choir.
I’ve taught in my district for fifteen years. Choir was part of the district curriculum and part of our school day. For years, I had 4th-5th grade choirs with over 100 students. About five years ago, our district moved from a K-5 model to a K-4/5-6 model and in doing so, eliminated choir. I was heartbroken! I love, love, love teaching elementary music, but there is something special about working with a group of children who really love singing and want to make music together. For two years, we had no choir at our school and for two years, I felt the void of my choir.
A few years ago, I approached my principal about having another choir. We would have to do things differently. It would be comprised of 3rd and 4th graders and rehearsals would be before school. I wasn’t sure how many students would want to come to school an hour earlier than usual or how many students would even want to participate. I worked from the premise that “if you build it, they will come.” And they did! The first year, we had about 40 students join choir. It was a small group, but a lovely group of students who loved singing.
We just finished our third year of choir at my school. This year we had 74 students in our choir. We performed in the community, at school assemblies, Covey leadership events, a Board of Education meeting and a Red Wings Game!
I can’t imagine my life without this group of students. They give back to me as much as I give to them. I have witnessed such tremendous growth in their singing and musicianship!
There are a few things you should know about my group. I donate my time for our rehearsals and performances. I teach for free. I know some people might scoff at that but the reality is we do what we love regardless of compensation. I love working with these children and I donate my time willingly.
We are not an “audition” group. I do not turn away any student. I truly believe that every child can sing and any child who wants to sing should have an opportunity to be part of our choir. End of discussion.
We’re a “flipped choir” too – meaning we don’t do traditional. We don’t sing traditional choir literature and perform as such. We modeled our choir much like PS 22. We sing music we love and much of it is pop music. It can be a challenge at times to find songs with a positive message and clean lyrics, but it is possible! The other thing that makes us stand out is that we never stand still. If we feel it, we move to it!
This group is the heart and soul of my school and one of my proudest accomplishments!