I have the great fortune of teaching elective classes, meaning most students Choose to be here! I am proud to say that we focus on creating a supportive and encouraging environment for all students, and work together to create our performances. We strive to be a 'family,' where we CARE: show Consideration, Accept, Respect, and have Empathy. This can be challenging at the middle school level, but it is so important to be successful in an artistic risk-taking endeavor!
I consider myself a very reflective and responsive teacher. As I get to know each class, I pay close attention to what they seem to enjoy, and I use that to guide my planning and choice of repertoire. I can sense when they need something new, and when we're not in 'crunch time' for a concert, our class time is productive, but relaxed (and sometimes chatty.) This also leads me to do occasional team-building and community circle time, where students can build relationships and connections with their classmates and me.
These are classes that I teach:
6th grade choir: Meets every-other day, first thing in the morning. This group learns how to read music, using solfege and rhythm syllables. They sing in 2 or 3 parts, depending on voicings and abilities. I choose repertoire to give them a sampling of 'show choir' and 'jazz choir' styles, to inform their choice for advanced choir.
6th grade drama: Meets every-other day. Students learn basics of theatre and acting, including improvisation and scene work, through a variety of activities. Students perform monologues, dialogues, and group scenes, and produces a full stage one-hour play. Students write their own scenes and monolgues, expressing themselves creatively. They preview junior musicals, preparing for future music theatre classes.
Show Choir: Meets every day, combines singing and dancing/movement. This choir reads music in 2 or 3 parts, and has opportunities to create choreography.
Advanced Choir: Meets every day, also known as 'jazz choir.' This choir focuses on more challenging music and harmonies, reading music in 3 or 4 parts, including bass clef.
Music Theatre: Meets every day, currently three classes who are double-cast in the school musical. This class has similar activities to 6th grade drama, but spends the bulk of the year producing the school musical. This is similar to a Project Based Learning environment, where students are challenged with the task of putting on a show, including: creating sets, costumes, staging, lighting, sound, and props, in addition to the actual acting and singing on stage. I strive to encourage life skills like: taking initiative, utilizing trial and error, collaborating with others, and developing confidence in one's own abilities.
Choirs learn to read music notation using Alfred's "Sing at First Sight" curriculum lessons. We use Kodaly syllables for rhythm and Solfege for pitch. These skills apply to our written repertoire, where we also learn to follow the 'map' of the song, with symbols like repeats, coda, first and second endings, verse reading, DC al fine, and tempo or dynamic markings.
Drama/Theatre classes have active participation and discovery. The best way to learn terminology and skills is to physically use them, including: stage direction, acting techniques, improvisation, script analysis, and evaluation. "Learn by doing" is one of my mottos.