I am a music educator. More specifically, I am a choir director.
Music is an art and music is a science. It uses the right half of the brain and the left half of the brain. It is something that captivates, inspires, convicts, motivates, moves; it can cause rejoicing and can bring to tears. Music is a language all of its own.
I admire those that spend countless hours advocating for the arts in the schools. Their dedication is critical for progress to continue in our country today. I, however, am not going to dwell on music advocacy at this point. I am blessed to work in a school with administrators that are fully behind the arts and so to be honest, I am not as well spoken in this area as other educators. This is what I want you to explore: what can the teacher in classroom 224 learn from the choir director down the hall?
1. Don’t let structure stifle creative energy - Choir poses classroom management issues that are unheard of in the traditional classroom setting. Imagine a classroom of 50 high school students that you are trying to energize and get excited about singing while simultaneously keeping them under control so that the group can have an efficient rehearsal. To make good music, the singers have to have focused energy otherwise the music falls flat making it dull and boring. This fine line that I am still learning to walk is critical in every classroom. Good choirs recognize that they have a single focus and that is to create exceptional music no matter how much energy it takes. Structure and rules are essential to a classroom but don’t ever let those get in the way of creating energy, creating excitement, and creating a singular focus in your classroom. Imagine the “music” your class could make if that was their goal! It takes energy on their part and certainly on your part, but its worth it.
2. Nothing motivates like accomplishing a goal as a group - Have you ever had the student that is suddenly motivated after bombing a test? Or how about the student that is driven to even greater success after acing a test? One of the most effective teaching strategies that I’ve used in choir is recording them. I can hear the groans now as I announce that we are going to record and listen to ourselves. While it can be a painful experience, the focus of the group multiplies following the listening. Each person is motivated to improve the choir as a whole. Similarly, I have seen this motivation following a successful concert. The group realizes their potential and seeks to reach new heights as a choir. How can you set goals for a class? How can you motivate them to reach those? If there are tangible, achievable goals, you will be amazed at the immediate improvement.
3. Music is a gift from God, and so is every other subject - Music is beyond words. There is nothing that can adequately describe the shear beauty or the overwhelming power beyond simple notes played together forming a stunning melody. If I teach my students nothing else, I pray that they can realize the immense power of music and what a gift it truly is. Every single subject that we teach has this same power. While it may not be as easily accessible as music, every subject has the power to stop someone dead in their tracks and create wonder, awe, and amazement. Do we approach every day of teaching with a goal of letting our subject amaze, illuminate, and inspire our students? I want to go to a school where each teacher has that as their goal.
Create focused energy, set goals, let your subject inspire - give it a try and see what you can learn!